Passing on the roles of the president, provost

CALEB FINCK Guest Columnist

Fast forward to this time next year and South Dakota State University will have new leadership. 

This past December, both our president and provost announced that they will be leaving their positions at SDSU. President David Chicoine plans to return to teaching in the Department of Economics, and Provost Laurie Nichols will become the new president at the University of Wyoming.

As president of the Students’ Association, I am excited and nervous for these changes to take place. 

Many people are wondering who the new leadership will be and what new goals and initiatives they will bring to SDSU. However, many students have asked much simpler questions. What does the president actually do and what is a provost?

The executive vice president for academic affairs is more commonly known as the provost of the university. The better question is, what does the provost do on a daily basis that affects students? The simple answer is anything academic in nature.

The deans from each of the colleges report to the provost and she helps them to make decisions regarding classes and programs. This commonly includes new classes, new majors and minors across campus.

Additionally, the provost leads the way in the long process of getting different programs accredited.  Have you ever wondered who helps set the rules on what information needs to be in a syllabus? That would also be the provost.

Now, what about the president? The president of the university is responsible for making large decisions that will impact the university in any way.

One example of this decision would be the price of tuition. The university must be able to function but at the same time the cost cannot be so high that students want to study at other, cheaper universities.

Capital building projects on campus are also subject to the president’s approval. The president does not make all decisions alone either. The vice presidents from across campus, the Foundation, the Alumni Association and the Student Government all assist when needed.

The question that many are asking right now is: “What will the new president be like?” I cannot directly answer that question because a new president has not been hired. However, we as students do have a say in who will get the job.

Two students sit directly on the Presidential Search Committee and more students will be involved in the interview process later this spring. We can rest assured that the new president will have the best interests of the students of SDSU in mind. The students on the search committee will help with this goal and the members of the Students’ Association for years to come will be here to advocate for it.


Caleb Finck is the President of Students’ Association and can be reached at [email protected].