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Nichols Named Distinguished Alum at South Dakota State University

September 6, 2016
head portrait of a woman
UW President Laurie Nichols

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols has been named a distinguished alumna of South Dakota State University (SDSU).

Nichols, who became UW’s president May 16, spent 22 years in educational administration at SDSU, serving as dean of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences from 1994-2009 and provost from 2009-2016.

SDSU announced its class of 2016 distinguished alumni today. Nichols and five others will be honored at a banquet Oct. 21 in Brookings, S.D.

A media release from SDSU says Nichols’ accomplishments included developing a five-year, $10.2 million classroom enhancement initiative to improve 99 classrooms in 23 buildings; chairing a 20-member leadership council that produced SDSU’s current five-year strategic plan; and revamping the campus curriculum process while adding three doctoral and five master’s degree programs.

In addition, Nichols focused energy and resources on student success, retention and opportunities for American Indian and low-income students to attend and succeed in college.

Since coming to UW, Nichols has led efforts to reduce the university’s budget at the request of Gov. Matt Mead; traveled throughout the state to meet with constituent groups; met with individual campus units to fully acquaint herself with the institution; and launched a process to create a five-year strategic plan.

Nichols was born and raised in South Dakota. A first-generation college graduate, she received a bachelor’s degree in education from SDSU in 1978. She then earned a master’s degree in vocational and adult education from Colorado State University in 1984 and a Ph.D. in family and consumer sciences education from Ohio State University in 1988.

She began her career in higher education as a member of the faculty of the University of Idaho from 1988 to 1994. From August 2008 through mid-June 2009, Nichols served as interim president of Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D.


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