Administration vacancies will prove difficult to replace


Spring is a time for change. It is when the dreadful snow finally disappears, when the birds return and when students eagerly await summer vacation. However, this year South Dakota State University will be experiencing a much larger change than simply seeing the grass again. This spring semester will mark the end of the current SDSU positions of President David Chicoine and Provost Laurie Nichols.

This change may sadden some, where others might not even know that Chicoine and  Nichols are leaving. Some people possibly do not even care about this change because they do not see it as something that directly affects them, but what these apathetic students fail to realize is that it will affect them. 

I am not sure about all of you who are reading this, but I believe that both President Chicoine and Provost Nichols have made a lasting impact here at SDSU. Throughout my three years at SDSU, my experience has been extremely pleasant, and that pleasant experience is most definitely credited to the administration. I have never had any problems with my academic track or classes, I have always been able to sit down and talk with President Chicoine when needed and I have always found faculty who are willing to help me.

Next year’s freshmen may not have the same experience that I had. Perhaps the new president and provost may not be able to provide the same experiences that I had. Who is to say that the replacements will be able to live up to the expectations that President Chicoine and Provost Nichols have created? One student I talked to commented on this change by saying, “I am a bit worried about the transition process from President Chicoine to a new president. It will be hard for someone else to come in and match all he has done”.

On the faculty side of this issue, a professor from the political science department said turnover and change is a good thing.

“Having said that, more than pay or location, quality leadership is what attracted me to SDSU. I, like the faculty, am concerned about whether we’ll find a replacement of equal quality for both the Provost and President. However, I’m sure there will be many talented applicants.”

Finding a quality replacement for both the president and provost will definitely prove to be a challenge. Since Chicoine is an alumni of my fraternity, I have had the chance to talk with him on a handful of occasions and from those encounters I can tell that he is a man that bleeds charisma and who has an unmatched drive to make positive change across campus. Chicoine has always been more than willing to lend a helping hand in any and all of my fraternity’s efforts, no matter the time commitment. And on top of that all, President Chicoine does sport, “one amazing moustache,” as one student put it.

On the other side of things, I have attended many of Provost Nichols’ speeches, and from those talks, I can see she has a remarkable amount of passion for her position and the academics on campus. Aside from leading several initiatives here at SDSU (e.g., strategic planning, diversity, academic advising, etc.), Provost Nichols has always brought innovative teaching techniques to campus, some of which support on-campus and off-campus graduate degrees.

Replacing such personalities will not be a simple task.

I am not doubting the future replacements to these positions, but I am merely saying that these replacements will have some big shoes to fill. 

I also believe that current and new students should recognize that this is an important change that they should care about. Whether it is visible or not, the only reason why SDSU is able to run each and every day is because of the efforts of the administration on campus. If there are a few bad apples in the bag, eventually all the other apples will go bad too. I feel that that fact is one worth recognizing.

Matching the character and charisma that both President Chicoine and Provost Nichols are leaving behind will not be an easy feat, and whoever replaces them will most definitely have some big expectations to live up to. However, no matter what happens, SDSU will endure the change and continue to strive toward greatness as it always has.


Jordan Bierbrauer is the Opinion Editor of The Collegian and can be reached at [email protected]