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State Board of Higher Ed names Stephen Easton DSU's interim president

Stephen Easton.jpg
Stephen Easton (Provided photo)

The State Board of Higher Education named Stephen Easton interim president of Dickinson State University in a special meeting via teleconference today.

Easton comes from a four-generation DSU family.

"Dickinson State is an incredibly important institution, both to me and to my family," he said. "I got a great education there ... and it was a very formative time in my life, so I have always had very great affection for Dickinson State. That affection actually started before I was a student there because both of my grandmothers and my dad were also Dickinson State alum, and now, our youngest son is also a Dickinson State alum."

Easton graduated summa cum laude from DSU in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting and a minor in political science. From there, he enrolled in Stanford Law School where he earned his Juris Doctorate in 1983.

Easton practiced law for more than 20 years before returning to higher education as a professor and administrator.

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"I've been a professor now for over two decades," he said. "It is wonderful work. Having the opportunity to work for students is overwhelmingly a positive experience, but as there are in any career, there are some negative aspects. I think being familiar with both the overwhelming joys and the occasional burdens will help (me) relate to the faculty members and also the administration and the staff. I was a student also at Dickinson State. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to relate to all of those groups."

Easton is aware of the budget issues the university is currently facing. He acknowledges that a lot of work has already been done by the budget task force on campus, but says that he will be gathering information and input from faculty and staff.

"The first step is to face important decisions, not to deny that they are coming up. The second step is to gather the required information, the data, in order to make those decisions, and to do so in an expeditious manner, so the decisions can be made ... in a timely fashion so that we can move on from those decisions. When those decisions are sort of looming over you, they are going to have a certain negatively associated with them. ... There will be pain associated with those decisions, but then we can look forward."

Easton is a professor at the University of Wyoming's College of Law, a role he's held since resigning in protest from the position of dean of the college in 2013.

"It's a complicated situation. ... I made the decision to resign because I thought that a road block needed to be placed in the path of a president of the university that was starting down a road that would have, in my opinion, very serious negative consequences, for the college of law, which I was then in charge of, and in particular for its students," he said. "One major aspect was that I was concerned that our tuition costs, if we had followed the path suggested by the president, were going to increase dramatically. I am a major believer that higher education should be made available to students at the lowest possible costs."

He said that while the situation is more complicated than that, it was one of the major factors in his decision.

Easton will begin his new position on December 3, 2019.

"We're really excited to welcome Stephen back to campus. I think he's really invested in the success of Dickinson State. He's going to bring such great energy for our students, faculty, staff and alumni. We're really looking forward to it," said Marie Moe, vice president of university relations and student recruitment for DSU.

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Kayla Henson is a former Dickinson Press reporter.
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