Black Named President of Black Hills State University
By Nora Hertel
A black educator has been named president of Black Hills State University. The South Dakota Board of Regents named a new president of Black Hills State University in front of a packed and cheering room in the student union.
The board selected Tom Jackson Jr. to be the university's tenth president, replacing current president Kay Schallenkamp.
Jackson is the vice president for student affairs at the University of Louisville. The board voted unanimously to accept Jackson, the search committee's recommendation.
"Walking through the door and hearing cheers rather than jeers was very very heart felt," he told the audience in his acceptance remarks. The audience responded to many of his comments with laughter and applause.
"It was never a very a hard sell," he said about Spearfish and the university. "We can't wait to get our butts out here."
He introduced his wife of 20 years Mona Jackson and their children T.J., 16, and Chandi, 12.
Jackson has a doctorate degree in education from the University of La Verne in California and a master's degree in counseling from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. He has served in leadership roles at Texas A&M University, McMurry University and the University of Texas-El Paso.
Board of Regents member Kathryn Johnson said in a statement, "Tom Jackson has dedicated his professional life to improving the student experience, and that kind of student-centered focus is very important to the success of Black Hills State University."
"We look forward to Tom's leadership as BHSU continues on its course of growth in enrollment, resources and research," she added.
Jackson said one of his goals in the next few years is to keep more students at the university once they enroll. He said he also wants to encourage innovation among the faculty.
He said he got a sense on his campus visits that faculty needed the go-ahead to do what they wanted.
"I want to give our faculty a little more of that permission," Jackson said.
Schallenkamp is scheduled to retire in June. Jackson said she is leaving the university in good shape and better than it was eight years ago when she took over.
Jackson's presidency will begin July 3. About 4,400 students attend Black Hills State. It is the third-largest among the six public universities in South Dakota.
"When I think about what BHS could become there's a sense that we could fly as far as we want to fly. We could become whatever we want to become," Jackson said.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.
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