Tuesday, December 15, 2020

As we conclude fall semester this week, I want to thank each and every one of you for the tremendous job you did to help us manage COVID with our students, faculty and staff. While many universities across the country stayed strictly on-line or went from face-to-face to online earlier than anticipated---we were able to stay the course and conclude our semester as planned. You are to thank for this as it took everyone, working together, to make this happen. Faculty, thank you for being extremely flexible in your teaching and with students. Staff, thank you for the many modifications you made in your jobs/work to help us manage COVID. And everyone, thank you for protecting yourself and others by wearing a mask, washing your hands, and socially distancing yourself. I hope you can take a few weeks to relax and renew after a stressful and taxing semester.  

My complete and heartful gratitude to all of you,

Laurie Nichols   

Messages & MEDIA

Office of the President

BHSU introduces new program to help people with disabilities gain work experience
View this story at NewsCenter1
Published: 2/23/21

Black culture on display at Black Hills State through football team’s efforts
View this story at KEVN
Published: 2/19/21

BHSU offers student support for professional development
View this story at KOTA TV
Published: 2/12/21

BHSU Athletic Director Jhett Albers announces retirement
View this story at RC Journal
Published: 2/4/21

Black Hills State University students transition into in-person learning
View this story at KOTA-TV
Published: 1/11/21

Colleges in the Black Hills are getting ready to start classes again, but with added precautions
View this story at NewsCenter1
Published: 1/4/21

Recent Black Hills State graduate shares her 2020 experience
View this story at KOTA TV
Published: 12/11/20

4 BHSU Alums finalists for Presidential Award
View this story at NewsCenter1
Published: 12/11/20

Black Hills State University commissioning a 20 foot sculpture
View this story at Black Hills Fox KEVN
Published: 12/10/20

Plans begin for a new sculpture in Spearfish
View this story at NewsCenter1
Published: 12/9/20

BHSU gifts Thanksgiving dinners to custodians
View this story at Rapid City Journal
Published: 12/9/20

BHSU students finally get their walk down the aisle
View this story at NewsCenter1
Published: 11/21/20

BHSU offers free COVID-19 testing to students, faculty and staff
View this story at NewsCenter1
Published: 11/3/20

Black Hills State University modifies fall commencement plans
View this story at Black Hills Pioneer
Published: 10/27/20

BHSU football game with Chadron State canceled
View this story at Rapid City Journal
Published: 10/22/20

Black Hills State University seeks board’s approval for E.Y. Berry Library renovation
View this story at KELO-TV
Published: 09/30/20

BHSU student scrambles to save monarch butterfly chrysalises during construction
View this story at Black Hills Pioneer
Published: 09/28/20

Black Hills State student takes on leukemia, pandemic
View this story at Black Hills Pioneer
Published: 09/21/20

DOH says school contact tracing a collaborative effort
View this story at Black Hills Pioneer
Published: 09/19/20

Mines, BHSU and Chadron State announce 5-game fall football season
View this story at Rapid City Journal
Published: 09/07/20

45 quarantine on Black Hills State University campus
View this story at KOTA-TV
Published: 09/01/20

BHSU works to keep campus clean
View this story at KELO-TV
Published: 08/27/20

BHSU professor, students to delve into food insecurity topic this fall
View this story at Rapid City Journal
Published: 08/27/20

Students are back at Black Hills State University and businesses are happy to see them
View this story at Black Hills Fox News
Published: 08/25/20

BHSU email alert says three students, one staffer have tested positive for COVID
View this story at Rapid City Journal
Published: 08/25/20

Department of Health clarifies number of active COVID cases at BHSU (one, not three)
View this story at Rapid City Journal
Published: 08/20/20

First day of classes at BHSU for the fall semester
View this story at Newscenter1
Published: 08/19/20

Heading back to school, BHSU students and staff 'anxious' for the fall semester
View this story at Newscenter1
Published: 08/18/20

BHSU has plan for return to school
View this story at KOTA-TV
Published: 08/17/20

Rocky Mountain Athletic conference suspends most fall season sports until spring of 2021
Read this story at RC Journal | BH Pioneer
Published: 08/06/20

BHSU early childhood education center to close Aug. 21
Watch this story at NewsCenter1
Published: 07/29/20

Rocky Mountain athletic conference delays fall sports
Watch this story at NewsCenter1
Published: 07/27/20

BHSU’s provost quoted in face covering story
Watch this story at Black Hills Fox KEVN
Published: 07/24/20

BHSU partners on pollinator garden in Spearfish
Read this story at BH Pioneer
Published: 07/03/20

Extended interview (16 minutes) with BHSU administrator on active anti-racism
Listen to this story at SDPB
Published: 06/22/20

Alumna returns as BHSU provost
Read this story at Rapid City Journal
Published: 06/21/20

Interviews with BHSU and SD Mines’ officials on adjustments to fall semester
Listen to this story at SDPB
Published: 06/20/20

BHSU to start earlier and hold classes over some holidays
View this story at KOTA
Published: 06/03/20

BHSU creates airborne isolation shield for Monument Health
View this story at KEVN-TV.
Published: 05/21/20

BHSU student teachers pivot to virtual lesson plans
View this story at KEVN-TV.
Published: 05/13/20

Romkema returns to BHSU as provost
Read this article at BHSU News.
Published: 05/12/20

BHSU graduates students virtually last Friday
Read this article at BHMedia
Published: 03/12/20 

Library renovations at BHSU and SD Mines move forward
Read this article at Rapid City Journal
Published: 03/03/20 

Black Hills State University is listening to employers 
Read this column by President Nichols at Rapid City Journal
Published: 02/28/20 

Alumni Giving Day at BHSU is a first
Read and watch the KELO-TV story.
Published: 02/27/20 

BHSU prepares for library construction
Read and watch the KOTA-TV story. 

BHSU News: State labor secretary reflects on career built with BHSU education degree
Read the BHSU News article.

Black Hills Pioneer: Bills on dual credit and combining administrations at BHSU and SD Mines discussed at Deadwood cracker barrel
Read the Black Hills Pioneer article.

BHSU News: President Nichols discusses plan to increase enrollment at BHSU
Watch the BHSU Media video.

BHSU’s 11th President reveals new enrollment plan
Watch the BHSU Media interview.

BHSU counts down Top 10 Moments of 2019
Read the
Black Hills Pioneer article.

As enrollment at S.D. universities fall, worries rise over possible program, personnel cuts
Read the South Dakota News Watch, Aberdeen News, Brookings Register, Capital Journal articles.

BHSU Capital Campaign Celebration
Read the Rapid City Journal – Our Northern Hills article.

BHSU holds fall graduation
Watch the NewsCenter1 video, read the Rapid City Journal, Black Hills Pioneer, The Dickinson Press articles.

BHSU names Nichols as permanent president
Read the Black Hills Pioneer, Brookings Register, Rapid City Journal, Douglas Budget, Casper Star-Tribune articles.

BHSU listens to needs of workforce leaders
Read the Black Hills Pioneer article.

Finding the most expensive college degree in the region: Interim President Laurie Nichols
Read the Rapid City Journal editorial.

BHSU holds BHSU Day in Sturgis
Read the KBHB Radio article.

Black Hills colleges partner to enhance opportunities: Interim President Laurie Nichols
Watch the S.D. Public Broadcasting interview.

BHSU interim president shares priorities during state of the university address
Read the Rapid City Journal – Our Northern Hills and Black Hills Pioneer articles.

Welcome Back BHSU
Read the Black Hills Pioneer special edition.

President Nichols comments on student loans
Watch the NewsCenter1 interview.

BHSU has positive impact on regional business community
Read the Black Hills Business Magazine editorial.

BHSU formally introduces interim President
Read the KEVN Black Hills Fox, KBHB Radio, and Rapid City Journal articles.

Laurie Nichols named interim president at Black Hills State
U.S. News & World Report, USA Today – Wyoming, Laramie Boomerang, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Rapid City Journal, The Brookings Register, Black Hills Pioneer, KOTA TV, Jackson Hole News and Guide, Wyoming Tribune, Buffalo Bulletin, Gillette News Record, NewsCenter1 TV, Sheridan Media.com, Casper Star-Tribune, Women in Academic Report, KGWN, Aberdeen News, Houston Chronicle, SD Board of Regents, Casper Star-Tribune, Laramie Boomerang, San Francisco Chronicle

President Nichols on Student Loan Forgiveness
KBHUTV Reporter Samantha Rider held an exclusive interview with BHSU President Nichols to get her thoughts on the possibility of Student Loan Forgiveness in the future. View on YouTube

President Nichols speaks at the SD Town Hall 
Listen to the SD News Watch Town Hall video 

SDPB TV - South Dakota Focus interview with President Laurie S. Nichols
President Nichols was interviewed last week by Stephanie Rissler for SDPB TV's signature public affairs program called South Dakota Focus. They discuss mitigation plans on campus during the COVID pandemic. You can watch the full one-hour program here. Nichols interview starts at timestamp 7:00 and ends at timestamp 22:30.

President Nichols presents BHSU response to COVID-19 Pandemic
Listen to the KDSJ Radio interview
Aired: 3-26-20

President Nichols talks about BHSU Athletics
Listen to the KDSJ Radio interview
Aired: 2-26-20

President Nichols speaks about the importance of BHSU to the West River Region
Listen to the KDSJ Radio interview
Aired: 1-23-20

BHSU’s 11th President reveals new enrollment plan
Watch the BHSU Media interview

BHSU holds fall graduation
Watch the NewsCenter1 video

Black Hills colleges partner to enhance opportunities: Interim President Laurie Nichols
Watch the S.D. Public Broadcasting interview

President Nichols comments on student loans
Watch the NewsCenter1 interview

KOTA Interview July 12, 2019

President Nichols’ keynote presentation at the SEDC Annual Meeting, January, 2021
Watch on YouTube 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

It is with a troubled heart that we write this note of concern and support for the Black community. The events over the last few weeks and following the tragic senseless deaths of African Americans in Georgia, Kentucky, and Minnesota have yet again brought racial injustices to the forefront.  

We acknowledge the pain of the Black community at BHSU, in our neighboring states, across the country and the world. We are in support of reviving and advancing the national conversation on racial injustices. As a University, we have a responsibility to be leaders in times of uncertainty. Higher education institutions have historically been and must continue to be a base for increased civic engagement.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” We must acknowledge our shortcomings, our preference to overlook injustices, and our lack of seeking a greater level of understanding. We must be honest with ourselves about our attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs to uncover implicit actions that fall short of our values and aspirations.

Education is one of the most powerful ways to overcome racial inequities. It’s evident in these challenging times that there is an even greater need for educated people who are critical thinkers. Problem solvers and empathy builders are needed to move this country forward at this turning point in our history.

With introspect we realize that the change begins with our own thoughts and leads to actions that impact the entire region. Our student leaders and faculty and staff are committed to providing programming and educational discussions to raise awareness and understanding of diversity. We encourage the BHSU campus to work with community members to serve as leaders of change.

We care deeply about diversity and are concerned with the realities of racism, injustice and bigotry. In light of the struggles taking place in our country and across the world at this time, it’s important for all of us to respond. We must show the members of our campus community that we see them, we stand with them, and their life, lived experiences, and voices matter.

We ask each member of our BHSU community to take the time to be introspective and recommit to seeking justice for all. There is no quick fix to this longstanding oppression, but there are steps that each of us can take and doors we can open for others to improve the situation and create a better future. As Mahatma Gandhi stated, “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” Yes we must be the change we want to see in the world.

Dr. Laurie S. Nichols, President

Dr. Erica Whitiker, Assistant Director, Student Union & Engagement

Dr. Chris Crawford, Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs

Kathy Johnson, Vice President for Finance & Administration

Dr. Lois Flagstad, Vice President for Enrollment & Student Affairs

Steve Meeker, Vice President for University Advancement

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Plans are being developed for the return to work and for Fall 2020 classes on campus

Two campus Task Forces are developing plans for employees to return to work and for the return of students this fall. As this is a fluid situation, details are still being determined and may change as conditions change.

Employees will return to work with a phased-in approach. The first phase, which begins June 1, will include all employees designated essential and any employees that have been utilizing Administrative Leave during the remote working period. The second phase will be bringing back approximately 30 percent of those employees who fall in a non-essential category of work on June 15th with an additional 30 percent reporting to work by July 1. As non-essential employees come back in phases, some will continue to work remotely, but all employees will be back to work no later than Aug. 1. Please check with your supervisor to determine your return to work date.

Melissa Hart, director of Human Resources, notes that any employees who fall in to a high-risk category would have the option to self-certify their at-risk condition with HR and their supervisor. Human Resources is developing a request form, with the BOR office, that will be available in the very near future.

As you return to campus, you will be expected to practice social distancing, conduct self-health checks on a regular basis, and be responsible for routinely cleaning your work space. It is highly recommended that all employees wear face masks while on campus. Supervisors are ensuring that work stations have the appropriate distancing and that hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies are available. Specifics on returning to work will be finalized next week and training will occur for all employees as they return to work.  

Studies by the CDC have shown that employers and employees can be effective in preventing and slowing the spread of COVID-19. Black Hills State University will continue to develop a response plan which takes into account the level of disease transmission in our community/region as well as our readiness to protect the safety and health of the campus community. 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend and we are looking forward to seeing you on campus.

President Nichols

Monday, April 27, 2020

Update on remote work and administrative leave

In coordination with Governor Noem's Executive Order 2020-12, the South Dakota Board of Regents will extend remote work through May 31st, and if we are unable to accommodate remote work then non-essential employees will be granted paid administrative leave. Essential employees should continue to work as scheduled and in line with the workplace guidelines provided, which may include reporting to the workplace if essential functions cannot be adequately performed remotely. As in previous weeks, supervisors will be evaluating the work that must be completed and will communicate with employees on essential or non-essential status, and expectations on reporting to work to ensure essential functions of the institution are being met, which may change from day to day. In addition, your supervisor will communicate with you if there are additional duties that require your assistance during this period of time. 

This is an evolving situation, so in the event that the landscape surrounding COVID-19 changes, the Board of Regents may adjust this plan as necessary. We will make every effort to keep you timely informed as this fluid situation continues to evolve. Updates surrounding COVID-19 can also be found on this webpage. Please monitor and review this site and related communications you receive. 

We understand that the spread of COVID-19 may impact you and your families whether related to work changes, school and daycare closures, or illness. Should these things happen, please discuss options for leave usage with your supervisor and the BHSU Human Resources Office at 642-6549.   

Thank you for your flexibility as this situation continues to evolve.  


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

BHSU Employees:

Thank you for all you are doing to ensure our students have access to their classes and can stay on track with their educational goals. The coronavirus pandemic is challenging all of us to be innovative and creative in our work and home life. I’m gratified to hear so many examples of how the BHSU community is responding and providing exceptional service to our students and ensuring the campus needs are being addressed.

Yesterday the Governor extended remote working arrangements for state employees.  As a follow up, during a daily conference call held with University Presidents and Board of Regents staff, it was decided to extend the current status of working remotely through May 15. Please maintain regular contact with your supervisor as we work through the challenges of working remotely for this extended time period.  Supervisors should be in contact with each employee who reports to him/her and be providing work assignments and expectations.  While the work is happening at home, we need to continue essential functions so the University continues operations. 

A group of “essential employees” are working on campus and some essential employees are working remotely and are “on call” to come to campus. Please note that the classification of employees who are “essential” and “non-essential” can change at any time depending on what is needed on campus. This is a fluid classification. Please stay in contact with your supervisor and you will be notified if your position changes from nonessential to essential (or vice versa).

We appreciate everyone’s flexibility and hard work as we transition through this unexpected change. We know it’s difficult but please continue to practice social distancing and remaining at home as much as possible as we do our part to flatten the curve of coronavirus spread.

Please let me know if you have questions and concerns.



Laurie S. Nichols 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


The Board of Regents office, in consultation with the six University Presidents, have determined that all Regental institutions including BHSU will continue with our current staffing plan again next week (March 23-27).  “Essential” personnel will report to work (or in some cases work from home and be on-call). “Non-essential” personnel will work from home. Please continue to work closely with your supervisor on details such as work expectations while you work from home.  In addition, expect that modifications may be needed to those employees who are considered to be “essential” or “non-essential” in classification.

Spring semester classes will resume on Monday, March 23, but will be delivered via distance or on-line.   Academic support services will be available to students and faculty, and residence halls will be open to those students who need to return to campus.

I appreciate all you are doing to ensure we are ready to have classes available online starting Monday, March 23rd and continuing through April 3. This continues to be a changing situation and I’ve been in regular contact with the Board of Regents staff, state officials, and others to make decisions as needed. 

I continue to be impressed with the high level of adaptability by our faculty and staff. This is unprecedented and it’s gratifying to see the quick responses and positive approach by our faculty, staff and students.

Monument Health announced this morning that they now have drive-through COVID-19 testing available for those who are concerned that they may have symptoms. There’s still a need to qualify for the testing. Please call 1-800-279-1466 for the Monument Health Hotline and Triage.

Residence Life continues to work with students as needed for housing and with questions.  Foodservice is available at the Student Union, but with modified service due to the virus.

The www.BHSU.edu/COVID19 page continues to be updated on a regular basis. Events are being updated on the Campus Calendar (www.BHSU.edu/calendar) as cancellations and postponement decisions are made. Send changes to web@bhsu.edu  Faculty and staff are encouraged to consider possible virtual options for events and meetings. I’ve decided to keep the March 30th Town Hall meeting and host that through Zoom. I hope you will join us for the discussion. 


Laurie Nichols

Please note:

  • The Library is closed for the remainder of the week and will be open next week for students.
  • The Young Center will remain closed this week and next.
  • The last day to drop a full-term class and receive a W grade has been extended from April 6 to April 14. Through April 6, students can drop using SNAP Self-Service. During the extended period of April 7 through April 14, students will need to contact the Registrar's office in order to drop a class. The point of contact is Brenna.Sadowski@bhsu.edu.
  • If you have traveled more than 100 miles from Spearfish since March 1, 2020, please complete the Travel Reporting form.  Knowing the locations of where our community members have traveled will help us monitor and keep our community safe should this virus reach campus.

Monday, March 16, 2020

BHSU will teach classes online March 23-April 3 to mitigate spread of COVID-19.  This decision was reached as a Board of Regents system.

Beginning Monday, March 23, Black Hills State University will move to an online delivery of all courses for a period of two weeks, through April 3.  Course delivery will occur primarily through the Desire2Learn learning management system and Zoom video conferencing platforms. Since Spring Break is being extended and no classes are being held this week, your syllabus schedule will change accordingly. There are no assignments due. Check with your faculty member or the D2L page for details.

Thank you for your continued willingness to adapt to the unprecedented situation. Please reach out to faculty and staff as you have questions.  Together we will work through the challenges and find solutions to ensure your classes can continue and students are able to complete this semester on schedule.

Although classes will be online through April 3rd, the BHSU campus will remain open to ensure BHSU is able to fulfill its educational and research mission. In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, students are encouraged to stay at their permanent residences until Sunday, April 5. We realize this may not be possible for all students. Students who are planning to come back to campus next week should email John.Ginther@bhsu.edu with details and fill out theTravel Reporting form.

Residence halls and Dining Services will remain open with modified hours and options. Counseling services are available on an as-needed basis and by scheduling in advance at 642-6520. The Library remains open for faculty, staff and students. The Young Center is reviewing plans and may be open limited hours next week. Health Services is available by phone at 642-6520. 

Due to the ever-changing situation, the SDBOR will revisit the situation and communicate any changes in course delivery again on March 27. This will allow faculty, staff, and students a nine-day notice before face-to-face classes resume. 

The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff throughout the state is our top priority and we continue to monitor the situation and adapt accordingly. Check the www.BHSU.edu/COVID19 page for updates. Thank you for your continued adaptability.

Laurie Nichols

Notes for Faculty/Staff:

·Non-essential employees who are working from home should forward your phones. Here’s a link to instructions. The Help Desk is available to assist email HelpDesk@bhsu.edu

Please review events scheduled in your area and keep us updated if events are postponed or cancelled. Email changes to web@BHSU.edu and the changes will be noted on the Campus Calendar www.BHSU.edu/calendar.

Sunday, March 15, 2020


Thank you for your immediate attention to the message on Friday and for your flexibility in seeking innovative ways to work remotely for the next week. It’s important for all of us to do our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in coordination with the Governor and the President’s emergency designations.

A small group of us met yesterday to discuss plans and identify essential personnel who will address specific needs during the extension of Spring Break. All essential personnel have been contacted by their supervisors with more detailed instructions for the week. (There will NOT be a meeting for essential personnel on Monday morning.)

If you have not been notified, you’ll be working remotely as non-essential personnel. Please see the FAQ below with answers to some of the questions you probably already have. This is a developing situation so the guidelines may adapt as we move forward.  Non-essential personnel are encouraged not to come to campus this week. Facilities Services will be doing a deep cleaning of the campus.


Laurie Nichols



Should I come to campus?

If your supervisor has NOT asked you to come to campus, you should work remotely this week. If you need something from campus, you can retrieve it but you are encouraged not to be on campus. Essential employees have been contacted by their supervisors with specifics.

Faculty: It’s preferred that you work remotely if possible.  If you need to come to your office for access to laboratory, computer, software, etc., that’s okay. Try to minimize your time on campus and while on campus stay in your lab/office with the door shut. Limit social interaction as well as use of public spaces such as the hallway, restroom, etc.

What tasks should I do?

Work with your supervisor to determine your priorities this week. Both essential and non-essential employees are still expected to work.  The location is the only thing that differs. Essential employees who are working at home may be asked to come into the office.  The University will be open for normal business hours; those working from home are expected work those hours. Please have your office phone forwarded to your home or cell phone.

Is the campus closed?

No. The campus is open on a limited basis staffed by essential employees.  BHSU should provide services as normal as possible. Some locations are closed including the Young Center, the Little Jackets Learning Center, and Einstein Bros. Bagels. 

How long will I be working from home?

The decision has been made for this week. Evaluation is on-going and when additional decisions are made, that will be communicated through email and on the website.

What about my timesheet for this month?


Timesheets must be submitted on SNAP by Monday, March 23 by 9:00 a.m. MT.  All approvals must be in that same day by 2:00 p.m. MT.  Supervisors need to work with their employees on submitting their timesheets appropriately.  Both essential and non-essential employees who are working next week, no matter the location, will submit as they normally would.  

Friday, March 13, 2020

Greetings BHSU Faculty and Staff,

Following Governor Noem’s executive order of a state of emergency, BHSU is instituting several initiatives designed to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. 

  • Employees are being asked to work from home, except essential personnel, for one week (beginning at 5 p.m. today and ending at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 20).
  • Today, please take whatever you will need to complete your work at home and forward office phones to remote location.
  • Please clean off your desk and working space; deep cleaning will take place next week.
  • If your office is fully staffed by non-essential personnel, your office will be closed next week. Before you leave today, post a note on your door with a number the public may call in order to reach staff.
  • All work-related out-of-state travel for next week is cancelled.

Essential personnel:

Essential personnel will be notified by Sunday afternoon with additional details and plans for a Monday morning meeting. Essential personnel may also be able to work from home, if that’s a viable option.

Thank you for continued patience and dedication during this time of uncertainty. Please take care of yourself and your family. Continue to check your email and the www.BHSU.edu/COVID19 website for additional updates. I appreciate all you do for BHSU.

Laurie Nichols 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Spring break extended for one week due to COVID-19

As more COVID-19 cases are confirmed in South Dakota, the South Dakota Board of Regents has decided to extend spring break for students for an additional week. Offices will be open, but classes will not be held March 16-20. 

No cases have been reported at BHSU. We will continue to work closely with the Board of Regents to review and update plans. Staff and supervisors should consider if specific employees should work remotely due to health concerns. If you have questions, please visit with your supervisor.

All international travel is being suspended and domestic travel will be evaluated and limited. An extended spring break period will allow faculty and staff to adjust programs and coursework, adapt instructional methods, and prepare other appropriate responses to COVID-19 going forward. For students who are on campus, essential services such as food service and residence hall accommodations will remain available.

Please review the following information concerning the COVID-19 situation.  It’s important to consider what you can do to help maintain the health of our community. You can carry the virus and not yet have symptoms so be considerate of those around you who may be more susceptible. If you have traveled over the past week, please provide updates and be aware of your health changes over the next 14 days.

BHSU is following South Dakota Department of Health and CDC guidelines for institutions of higher education. We will post timely updates on our web page www.BHSU.edu/COVID19.  If you have not subscribed to the campus alert system, please do so to receive any immediate announcements.

This is a developing situation. The health and safety of our campus community remains our top priority. I realize these changes create difficulties in planning and scheduling. Thank you for your flexibility and understanding as we continue to monitor and respond to this rapidly changing situation. Updates will continue to be provided. 

Laurie Nichols

Guidance to help Prevent the Spread of Infection from the CDC

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home and do not travel or go to work or school when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue in the trash. Then wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Maintain a safe social distance.

Guidance if You Are Sick


  • If you have a fever, cough or shortness of breath don’t come to class. Call student health services at 642-6520 to share your symptoms and to possibly schedule a diagnostic test. They will direct you with next steps around self-quarantine and tips for recovery. For 84% of coronavirus patients, the symptoms are mild and recovery can occur at home. If your symptoms are not improving, please call a healthcare professional.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

BHSU Community:

BHSU continues to monitor the novel Coronavirus, referred to as COVID-19. 

We know many of you are traveling during the upcoming spring break.  While the original information regarding the risk, symptoms, transmission and prevention has not changed, the number of cases worldwide and nationally has increased, and the affected areas continue to change. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html is the best reference for information about the Coronavirus. There are no cases reported in South Dakota as of this date.

Our goal is to remind you to remain informed and vigilant, and to exercise appropriate caution as the situation changes. You can reference the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html for the latest information, as well as links to other sources. It is important that every member of our community remain informed as this situation develops.

If you are planning international travel, please refer to the guidance provided by the U.S. Department of State https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/  and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Please keep in mind that you might encounter screening abroad, and you might become subject to whatever their local travel restrictions might be or might become. Upon returning to the United States you might face additional screening. National news has shown stories of Americans returning from affected areas being subjected to quarantine and/or isolation.

Please remember that if you are sick, don’t come to work or school and:

  • have had close contact with a laboratory‐confirmed case or
  • are symptomatic and have traveled to an expanded list of “affected geographic areas” which at this time includes: China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea (as of 3/4/20).


  • Call the South Dakota Department of Health at (605)773-3361.
  • Seek medical care right away. However, before you go to a doctor’s office or BHSU Student Health (605)642-6280 or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick. Please do not get on public transportation.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.


BHSU continues to monitor the situation and provide updates as needed.  


Tuesday, February 25, 2020 10:04 AM

BHSU Faculty, Staff and Adminstrators:

Below is a link to a letter from me regarding summer school changes for summer, 2020, along with a PowerPoint containing a full set of recommendations from a summer school task force.  The task force worked over the course of fall semester and has made recommendations for implementation both summers of 2020 and 2021.   Read on for more information: Summer School Task Force Recommendations.

Tuesday, January 8, 2020

SSI results discussed as Strategic Enrollment Plan work continues on campus 

A very productive two-day visit from our Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL) consultant was concluded last week.  Dawn Fortin Mattoon met with the Working Groups, the Data Team and the Steering Committee and outlined their next steps in the process. 

As a part of the first day session, results of the Student Satisfaction Survey (SSI) that they administered to our students, were discussed. BHSU had a higher than usual return rate – 33%. A separate survey, specifically to students who only take online courses, was also conducted. Dr. Lois Flagstad, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment, noted there are several key takeaways from the surveys. This data is being analyzed and incorporated into the Working Group discussions as BHSU designs and implements a new strategic enrollment plan.

The survey questions were divided into categories, listed by order of importance as indicated by the students:  academic advising, instructional effectiveness, concern for the individual, student centeredness, safety and security, recruitment and financial aid, registration effectiveness, campus climate, service excellence, campus support services, campus life and responsiveness to diverse populations. Survey results are available here

The Working Groups are continuing to meet and the consultant will be back on campus April 14 and 15th. For more details on the RNL process and recommendations, a web page has been established and will continue to be updated.  A future Town Hall campus meeting may focus on this effort. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Ruffalo Noel Levitz Strategic Enrollment Plan development process and working groups

Campus Community:

BHSU is taking a number of steps to improve recruitment and retention with a goal of reversing a declining enrollment trend. As you know, tuition and fees are the primary funding source for the university so stabilizing and growing student credit hours is essential. The following is an overview of the initiatives currently underway as we move forward with our goals of increasing enrollment, enhancing retention, and stabilizing the budget. 

A first initiative was to immediately address low retention rates that have fluctuated in recent years but have remained lower than our peers. A Retention Task Force was identified and this group has been working diligently to make a set of recommendations on improvements and changes that should be made to enhance retention of first year students (freshman to sophomore). Currently retention for this group is 65%; the recommendations are intended to improve retention to at least 70%. I’ve asked for this group’s recommendations by early January. 

BHSU has also retained the services of Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL), a well-known higher education consulting firm, to create a long-term Strategic Enrollment Plan that will improve enrollment and retention. Among RNL’s initial recommendations were to conduct a Student Satisfaction Survey to measure overall satisfaction and priorities of current students. The survey is underway at this time.

There will be four phases to the Strategic Enrollment Plan:

  1. Preparations and Data Analysis
  2. Strategy Development
  3. Goal Development
  4. Implementation and Continuation

The framework has been established which includes a steering committee, a data team, and four working groups to consider areas of concern and explore possible opportunities. Those serving in each include:

Steering Committee:

  • Chairs
    • Chris Crawford, VP for Academic Affairs
    • Lois Flagstad, VP for Enrollment & Student Affairs
    • Corinne Hansen, Director of University & Community Relations
  • Members
    • Kathy Johnson, VP for Finance and Administration
    • Pam Carriveau, Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs
    • Amy Fuqua, Dean for the College of Liberal Arts
    • Barb O’Malley, Director of Admissions
    • Cheryl Anagnopoulos, Professor of Psychology
    • Carrie Stringham, Assistant Professor of Management

Data Team:

  • Chris Crawford, VP for Academic Affairs
  • Rich Loose, Director of Institutional Research
  • Ven Thompson, Information Technology Specialist
  • April Meeker, Registrar
  • Don Coble, Director of Budget
  • Kristen Kilmer, Asst. Director, Marketing & Communications

Working Groups:
Five working groups have been established to do a thorough SWOT analysis, review data, and begin to develop strategies. The five groups are noted below:

  • Academics – Dr. Amy Fuqua, chair
    • Jeff Wehrung - Chair, School of Business
    • Rich Loose (data) - IR
    • Betsy Silva - Education
    • Craig Triplett - Behavioral Sciences
    • Kelly Kirk - Social Sciences
    • Deb Wolf - Education & Outreach (SURF)
    • Dawn Kennedy - Registrar’s Office
    • Debbie Liddick - Sustainability/Facilities
    • Ann Bolman - President, WDT
    • Kory Menken - Director, Spearfish Economic Development
  • Admissions and Recruitment – Barb O’Malley, chair
    • Barb O’Malley (chair) - Director of Admissions
    • Charlie Lamb - Research/Biology
    • Johanna Best - Registrar’s Office
    • Eric Leise - Director, International Studies
    • Thayer Trenhaile - Athletics Development
    • Van Delist - ROTC/National Guard
    • Ven Thompson (data) - IT
    • Melissa Barth - Director, Spearfish Chamber
    • Jane Klug - Dean of Students
    • Janette Hettick - Retention/Recruitment Advisor, Liberal Arts
    • Megan Vetter - Former Assistant Director of Admissions (BHSU)
  • Student Success – Pam Carriveau, chair
    • Whitney Bischoff - Student Success (BHSU-RC)
    • Clarissa Thompson - Retention/Recruitment Advisor, Academic Affairs
    • Greg Farley - Dean, College of Business and Natural Sciences
    • Hans Nelson - Corporate and Career Development, BHSU Foundation
    • Daluss Siewert - Chair, Math and Social Sciences
    • Justin Logue - Health Services
    • Ashley Kirchner - TRiO
    • April Meeker (data) - Registrar
    • Jade Temple - Athletics Compliance
    • Greg Krajewski - Veteran’s Resource Coordinator
    • John Ginther - Residential Life
  • Fiscal and Financial Aid – Kathy Johnson, chair
    • Parthasarathi Nag, Mathematics/Undergraduate Research Coordinator
    • Don Coble (data) - Director of Budget
    • Kim Nida - Financial Aid
    • Melissa Christensen - HR Director
    • Kanda Guthmiller - Scholarship Coordinator, BHSU Foundation
    • Gene Bilodeau - Executive Director BHSU-RC
    • Mike Harmon - City Administrator, Spearfish
    • Brandon Bentley - Director of Business Services/Controller
  • Marketing and Communications – Kristen Kilmer, chair and data
    • Gus Karinen - Marketing and Communications (web)
    • Ryan Amys - Education
    • Trenton Ellis - Behavioral Sciences
    • Jayce Winsell - Admissions
    • Mike Isaacson - Student Life
    • Erica Whitiker - Student Engagement
    • Robin Zebroski - VP of Strategic Marketing & Communications, Regional Health

Our RNL consultant will be back on campus Jan. 22 and 23 with a goal of working with each of the five working groups.

For more details on the RNL process and recommendations, a web page has been established and will be updated as progress continues. Please review the details here. If you have questions or suggestions, please reach out to the Steering Committee or Working Group leaders. This is a campus wide effort. I’m confident that these initiatives will make a measurable improvement in both recruitment and retention for BHSU.