Spearfish, S.D. – Today, Black Hills State University (BHSU) President Dr. Laurie Nichols announced her retirement from higher education.
An established figure in South Dakota academia, Nichols has held statewide leadership roles at South Dakota State University, Northern State University, and, most recently, Black Hills State University. Prior to her presidency, Dr. Nichols worked in secondary and post-secondary positions in South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Ohio, Idaho, and Iowa. She leaves BHSU as a valued member within the South Dakota Board of Regents system.
“Dr. Laurie Nichols is a true asset to higher education, and we are grateful for all the years of service she dedicated to South Dakota,” said Board of Regents President Tim Rave. “She has built an amazing foundation at Black Hills State University, which will benefit the campus for years to come.”
During her four years with BHSU, Nichols’ list of accomplishments is long. Achievements include creating the West River Health Science Center in Rapid City and expanding Black Hills State University – Rapid City. Nichols helped solidify partnerships with Ellsworth Air Force Base in Ellsworth, bringing degree programs to active military and their families. She also strengthened the academic relationship with Crazy Horse and American Indian University of North America.
“Leading Black Hills State University has been a wonderful experience. I am so thankful for the path that led me there and the team we’ve built,” said Nichols. “I am confident in the vision and future of BHSU and feel that the university is strong and well-posed for the next leadership.”
As president, Nichols prioritized a strong leadership team who valued ambitious goals. Their goals aided in the creation of a comprehensive strategic plan for the university and a more specific plan for enrollment, 10-year Higher Learning Commission accreditation, record fundraising, and nationally competitive athletics. These initiatives weren’t only acknowledged at the campus level, but Nichols improved relationships within the Spearfish community and the South Dakota legislature.
“As a native of South Dakota, serving public higher education in my home state has been a privilege. The highlight is my role as President of Black Hills State University, where I had the remarkable opportunity to return to the same region where I began my career nearly 40 years later.”
Nichols will remain in her position while a search for the next president commences this fall.