BHSU counts down Top 10 moments of 2016

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, December 27, 2016/Categories: 2016

BHSU is counting down the Top 10 University Moments of 2016 each day through Dec. 31. In at #1, BHSU is noted for affordability and academic innovation. This year more than 600 students graduated from BHSU, joining the thousands of individuals who proudly call themselves BHSU Alumni.

BHSU is counting down the Top 10 University Moments of 2016 each day through Dec. 31. In at #2, the University location, programs, and amenities earn BHSU top ranking as a University for outdoor adventurers.

One look at the Black Hills State University listing of the Top 10 University Moments of 2016 proves that Anything is Possible at BHSU, a University surrounded by high-quality academic programs to challenge the mind, opportunities to impact the world, and an abundance of natural beauty for inspiration.

From 10 to 1, here&rsquos the BHSU Top 10 Moments of 2016 countdown:

10. BHSU sees significant growth in international outreach and programs

International relations and global engagement at BHSU are at an all-time high, thanks to focused efforts to increase participation in study abroad and recruit international students.

In the past year, BHSU reported a 317 percent increase in BHSU students participating in study abroad. Students received course credit for faculty-led programs in the Botswana, Germany, Philippines, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The University currently enrolls students from 30 countries. In 2016 nine international students, a record number, chose to stay at BHSU beyond just a semester to finish their degree.

9. Crow Peak Fire operations were centered on the BHSU campus

For nearly two weeks this summer while a forest fire burned on nearby Crow Peak, the BHSU campus served as a firefighting command center that housed and fed more than 600 people as firefighters moved into the area to battle the blaze.

The BHSU campus, which has previously been utilized as a Red Cross evacuee site and provided lodging for firefighters, responded quickly. A donations site was also set up on campus as a central point for community members to provide needed items.

This is just one of the many ways that BHSU is an integral part of the community. Spearfish and BHSU have an exceptionally high level of synergy. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni complete thousands of hours of service every year and are active in leadership roles on community boards and within organizations.

8.  Yellow Jacket Athletics celebrates three National Championships and Coaches of the Year

The BHSU track &amp field teams had a season to remember this spring as they claimed the first National Championships for the Yellow Jackets in the NCAA era. At the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track &amp Field Championships in Bradenton, Fla., Jonah Theisen, physical science major from Kenai, Alaska, outpaced the field in the 3,000-meter steeplechase while Madison McLaughlin, physical education major from Wall, had the farthest shot put in the competition.

The BHSU rodeo team had arguably its best season in history led by Kristi Steffes, elementary education major from Vale, who earned the Barrel Racing National Championship. Head coach Glen Lammers was named the Great Plains Region Coach of the Year after leading the men&rsquos and women&rsquos teams to Great Plains Region Championships.

Women&rsquos basketball advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament following a win over Colorado State &ndash Pueblo in March.

John Reiners, head football coach, was named Rock Mountain Athletic Conference Coach of the Year by his peer coaches in November.

BHSU made the transition to Division II athletics five years ago and has added women&rsquos soccer and the NCAA emerging sport of women&rsquos triathlon in the past two years.

7. BHSU emphasizes research BHSU Underground Campus at Sanford Lab provides unique research, learning opportunities

The emphasis on undergraduate research is evident throughout the campus and highlighted each year at the Black Hills Research Symposium. In 2016, 44 students showcased their research and scholarly activity at the Research Symposium on campus and eight students presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.   

BHSU students have unique learning experiences nearly a mile underground at Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead. BHSU hosted the Grand Opening of the Sanford Science Education Center on campus and the BHSU Underground Campus at Sanford Lab in May. BHSU also hosted the first annual BHSU Underground Robotics Competition this year where BHSU students worked directly with middle school students to create robots using LEGO Mindstorm kits. The robots were then tested on an obstacle course underground at Sanford Lab.

Students from throughout the U.S. are benefiting from a National Science Foundation grant of more than $250,000 BHSU received to support students participating in undergraduate science research at Sanford Lab. In partnership with Sanford Lab, BHSU also hosted a regional Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics on campus in January.

Research at the BHSU Underground Campus at Sanford Lab created an opportunity for Rachel Williams, Black Hills State University physical science and chemistry major from Spearfish, to earn an international internship with the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the National Institute for Nuclear Physics. Her work at the National Institute for Nuclear Physics, Catania section, included building a detector that is now the highest efficiency cosmic ray detector housed at the Institute.

6. BHSU &ndash Rapid City offers daytime and weekend classes, enhances labs for science and photography

In the year since Black Hills State University-Rapid City (BHSU-RC), the former University Center, was renamed and placed under the leadership of BHSU, rebranding has increased awareness of the university location. BHSU has responded to students&rsquo suggestions for changes, in an ongoing effort to meet the needs of students in the state&rsquos second largest city.

BHSU-RC now offers enhanced science and photography laboratory facilities and classes at alternate time frames including daytime classes and Saturday morning classes. BHSU-RC also is now offering a new non-credit program, Advanced Project Management, and has introduced an Associate degree in Human Services.

5. BHSU again named a Military Friendly&reg School and a Best For Vets College

For the seventh consecutive year, BHSU was named to the list of 2017 Military Friendly&reg Schools by Victory Media. BHSU was also named to the Best for Vets: Colleges 2017 by Military Times.

Areas noted for exceptional service to military men, women, and families at BHSU and all Military Friendly&reg schools include admissions, student support, and career services. The Best for Vets designation considers cost, credits, and culture of its competing colleges, as well as peer connections and veterans support.

Services BHSU offers to assist military members and their families with academic and social needs include student support services such as disability accommodations, free tutoring, scholarship searches, academic advising, financial aid counseling, career counseling, testing, college prep and refresher classes in math and writing, and assistance with study skills and Veterans Administration benefits.

Veteran&rsquos Affairs services are offered at BHSU in Spearfish and at BHSU-Rapid City.  

4. BHSU Honors Program reaches new achievements

Dedicated to achievement, leadership, and community, the University Honors Program seeks to enrich its students' university experiences. The program is designed to provide the university&rsquos top students with the support and individualized instruction they need to pursue their academic and professional goals. This year, BHSU graduated the first International University Scholars, Honors students who completed the University Honors program along with significant international experiences: Alicia Benz, biology major from Killdeer, N.D. Ashley Ruegg, Spanish and history major from Gering, Neb. and Karin Humar, business administration-marketing major from Slope, Slovenia.

The University Honors program fulfills both academic and social needs of students by hosting the popular Geek Speak lecture series and organizing volunteer sessions at the Western Hills Humane Society.

3. BHSU named top choice for Native American students

Black Hills State University was again selected as one of the Top 200 Colleges for Native Americans by Winds of Change magazine. The major criteria for selection in the list include the American Indian support community at the university and the percentage of Native students who graduate. The Top 200 Special Issue of Winds of Change is referenced year round by students and counselors as the only resource of its kind for Native Americans hoping to pursue a degree is STEM.

BHSU, which has the highest percentage of Native American students among the state public universities, has a legacy of providing educational opportunities for Native American students from South Dakota and throughout the nation.

High school students from throughout South Dakota attended the GEAR UP Summer Honors Program, a three-week, residential, pre-college enrichment program designed for students to increase the likelihood that they will enroll and succeed in higher education.

2. Location, programs, and amenities earn BHSU top ranking as University for outdoor adventurers  

It&rsquos a natural fit to have the state&rsquos only academic Outdoor Education program in the Black Hills, says Christine McCart, instructor of outdoor education at BHSU. BHSU was named to two national lists in 2016 highlighting the University as one of the best for outdoor adventurers.

BHSU landed at #7 on the list of Top 10 Best U.S. Colleges and Universities for Outdoor Adventurers by, an outdoor and tech gear company, and #9 on the list of 20 Best Colleges and Universities for Outdoor Adventurers by College Choice, an independent online publication dedicated to helping students and their families find the right college. Spearfish was also named the "Best Hippie Town" in South Dakota by, a foodie and travel website which noted the mellow feel BHSU contributes to the town.

The listings reference the Outdoor Education academic program at BHSU and the close proximity to "high adrenaline-fueled adventure."   

While many of BHSU students take part in outdoor adventures while living in Spearfish, Outdoor Education majors have many opportunities to learn immersed in beautiful environment that surrounds the campus. Many of the program&rsquos classes meet outdoors in the surrounding forests and waters minutes away from campus.

BHSU is committed to sustainability and being a good steward of the Black Hills that surround campus in both practice and education. The master&rsquos degree in sustainability at BHSU is the only degree of its type available entirely online in the whole western half of the U.S.

1. BHSU noted for affordability and academic innovation as more than 600 graduate in 2016

Each of the colleges at BHSU was noted for national achievement this year. The College of Education and Behavioral Sciences celebrated the School of Education being named one of the most affordable colleges for a master&rsquos in education by The College of Business and Natural Sciences was named one of the most affordable business schools by College Choice. As a nod to the high-quality programs in the College of Liberal Arts, BHSU student Megan Wattenhofer, biology major from Rapid City, won the novice Individual Parliamentary Debate event at the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament this spring. This was the first time in school history a debater had earned a national championship. The College of Liberal Arts also received approval to offer new bachelor of fine arts (BFA) degrees in graphic design, photography, and studio art.

Student Support Services, a federally-funded Department of Education program to help students reach graduation, showed impressive graduation rates this year, far surpassing expectations.

More than 600 students graduated from BHSU this year.

Watch a video highlighting the outstanding academics and outdoor amenities at BHSU.

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