BHSU President Delivers State of the University

Black Hills State University President Laurie S. Nichols presented the annual State of the University Address to faculty and staff Wednesday in Meier Hall.  

The address began with each department introducing their new employees, followed by Melissa Hart, director of human resources, recognizing 48 BHSU staff and faculty members for their longevity, with service ranging from 10 to 55 years. Altogether, the employees recognized represented over 800 years of service to BHSU and the South Dakota Board of Regents.  

Steve Meeker, vice president for University Advancement, announced this year’s recipients of the annual employee awards. This year’s award winners were: 

Presidential Outstanding Employee: Ven Thompson, senior application/business analyst 
Presidential Rising Star Non-Faculty: Christina Nauta, senior accountant
Presidential Rising Star Faculty: Tessa Sundermann, instructor of mathematics
Presidential Outstanding Student Employee: Aubree Vander Wilt
President Team Excellence Award: Human Resources 

Recipients of the 2023 BHSU Employee Awards pose together for a group photo during the annual State of the University address. (From left: Ven Thompson, Chrstina Nauta, Tessa Sundermann, Melissa Hart, Cassie Maser, and Bailey Froelich.)

After the presentation of the awards, the address continued with an update on the BHSU University Strategic Plan: “Climbing New Peaks,” from each of the Implementation Team leaders. A full report on the year one progress of the new strategic plan is expected to be released to the public in early 2024. 

President Laurie S. Nichols began her portion of the address by congratulating and thanking the BHSU campus for their successful HLC accreditation review. She then highlighted current numbers for fall enrollment and retention, updates to campus safety, and the University website redesign project.  

Budget, facility project updates, and an overview of the presidential search timeline concluded the address.