The International Relations and Global Engagement office is here to help you find a global connection. You can learn more about us and find our contact information below.

Eric D. Leise

Eric joined BHSU in July 2018 after having served in similar roles at University of Oregon and University of South Dakota. Eric has been active in international education and international mobility since beginning his undergraduate studies at Univ of Calif., Los Angeles, where he studied the politics of European immigration and integration. He carried this interest through to his graduate studies at Georgetown University and again at UCLA where he continued work in different capacities comparing immigration laws and policies. At BHSU, Eric enjoys working with staff and faculty to continue building upon internationalization strategies and bringing the world to the Black Hills of South Dakota. In his free time, Eric enjoys the outdoors, scratch cooking and baking, reading, spending time with family, and letting his dog Charlie take him for walks.

Kaitlin Palmer
International Admissions Coordinator

Kaitlin grew up in the Black Hills with a natural love for the outdoors, a good cup of tea, and traveling as much as possible! After developing a taste for culture, food, and new experiences while traveling as a young child, she has enjoyed exploring the United States and various areas of the world to meet new people and enjoy the delicious food they create! Kaitlin's first international education experience brought her to Florence, Italy where she spent a semester in 2013 exploring the Tuscan hillsides by bicycle. She graduated as a University Honors Scholar with a Bachelor degree of Science in Psychology from Black Hills State University in 2014 and a Masters degree of Education in Administration of Student Affairs from South Dakota State University in 2019. In her free time, she loves cooking, skiing, camping, biking, kayaking, and hiking and with her husband, Woody, and dog, Molly, but also enjoys staying at home with her two cats, Charlie and Beans.

Courtney Pierce
Academic English Program (AEP) Instructor

Courtney began her career as the AEP instructor after graduating from BHSU in 2016. She grew up in Rapid City but went to high school in Spearfish where she met her husband and eventually started her family. She had always known she wanted to be an English teacher, and when she was asked to teach English to international students, she knew she could not pass up such an incredible opportunity. Courtney loves learning about other cultures and people through her students and hopes to travel the world, visiting the countries her students have come from. When she is not teaching, Courtney can be found spending time with her husband, three children, and dog. She also enjoys baking and reading.

Mission Statement:

The International Relations and Global Engagement office is the hub for international activity at Black Hills State University.


Vision Statement:

The International Relations & Global Engagement (IRGE) office is charged with the development, growth and sustainability of a global campus community. This charge is currently carried out by way of five strategic initiatives:

  1. Recruitment of degree seeking international students
  2. Recruitment of international and domestic students to participate in bilateral exchanges, independent study abroad experiences, and/or service learning programs which facilitate global understanding
  3. Develop and maintain Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) which link BHSU with partner universities abroad
  4. Development of opportunities for BHSU faculty and staff to participate in visiting professor, visiting researcher, or visiting staff exchange programs in addition to other collaborative service and scholarly activities
  5. Create and maintain strategic collaborations on campus and in the local community which integrate internationalization into the fabric of the communities.