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 Melissa Berninger
  • Director of Honors Program
Melissa Berninger came to the University of South Dakota in 2018. As director of the University Honors Program, she advises and teaches honors students, provides administrative leadership for the program, and serves as the campus coordinator of nationally competitive scholarships. Before coming to USD, she spent nearly twenty years at Long Island University Brooklyn, where she served as writing program administrator, campus coordinator of assessment, and associate director of the Honors College. Melissa earned a master's degree in English from Pennsylvania State University and a master's degree in library and information science with a certificate in archives and special collections from the Palmer School at Long Island University. She is a merit badge counselor for the Vermillion BSA troop and a regular volunteer at the Vermillion Welcome Table.
 Kathryn Birkeland
  • Associate Dean, Beacom School of Business, Associate Professor of Economics
Kathryn Birkeland, a USD alumnus, returned as a faculty member in 2011. She currently serves as the Associate Dean of the Beacom School of Business. Her teaching areas include macroeconomics, monetary economics, and the economics of education in addition to principles of economics. She has extensive training and experience in online teaching. Birkeland is a USD Honors Program alumnus (BSBA ’01) and now teaches in the program. In 2016, she was the recipient of USD’s prestigious Belbas-Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Beacom School of Business Award for Faculty Excellence in Research. She specializes in research on the economics of higher education including access to college and state financial aid policies. Birkeland graduated from Arizona State University with a Ph.D. in 2007 and a M.S. in 2004. In addition to her work on campus, Kathryn serves as the President of the Executive Board of United Way of Vermillion. She and her husband live in Vermillion with their two children.
 Anne Cipperley
  • USD Alumna ('09)
Anne has worked at the South Dakota Investment Council since 2009. As a portfolio manager, she manages high yield bonds in the energy, healthcare, media, leisure, gaming and metals/mining industries. During her time at the Council, she, and two of her colleagues, created a proprietary model to value high yield bonds. Anne graduated summa cum laude with honors from the University of South Dakota in 2009 with a bachelor of science in economics and a minor in mathematics. Anne played basketball for the Coyotes for two years, was a Presidential Alumni scholarship recipient, participated in the Honors Program, studied abroad in both the Czech Republic and Greece, and won the Midwest Economics Association’s 2009 Undergraduate Paper Competition with her honors thesis titled “The Cost European Union Consumers Bear to Support Rural Dairy Farmers.” Anne and her husband, Kyle, currently reside in Sioux Falls with their sons Wyatt & Will. Anne and Kyle are both USD trustees.
Tayte Gleason
  • USD Student
Bio and photo coming soon.  
Michael Hook
  • Associate Professor, Art Foundation Coordinator
Phillip Michael Hook came to the University of South Dakota in 2006. He teaches two-dimensional design, color theory and all levels of drawing in the Department of Art at USD. Hook is also the academic advisor for all freshmen in the art department as well as mentor for all graduate teaching assistants teaching art classes. Professor Hook’s research interests are in the areas of landscape and abstraction, works on paper, printmaking and hand-bound books. Professor Hook grew up in the small town of Boonville, Missouri though originally from Kansas City. He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Missouri. Hook has frequently exhibited work throughout the Midwest and has been selected to participate in many juried competitions and invitational exhibitions throughout the United States.  Phillip Michael Hook
Eric Jepsen
  • Professor
Eric M. Jepsen, Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Internship Coordinator in Political Science, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of New Mexico in 2006. His teaching and research interests include comparative politics, international relations, political economy, democratization, Latin American politics and South Asian politics. His research on sub-national economic development in India and Mexico has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council, and he received Fulbright Awards to India in 2002 and 2012. He has previously taught at the University of New Mexico and the University of Vermont. 
Christina Keller
  • Professor Emeritus of Physics
A member of the USD faculty for 28 years, Tina recently retired as professor of physics and director of the physics program serves and from the position of associate dean in the College of Arts & Sciences . Tina taught a variety of physics courses during her time at USD, including calculus-based introductory physics, modern physics and astronomy. In 2006, she was the recipient of USD's prestigious Belbas-Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching. She has been involved in the state's efforts to convert the Homestake Mine in western South Dakota into a deep underground science lab where experiments searching for Dark Matter and Neutrinoless Double Beta Decay are located. She has also served as the Faculty Athletics Representative for USD from 2006 until 2017, and played a key role in the institution's transition from NCAA Division II to Division I. Keller graduated from North Dakota State University with a Ph.D. in 1988 and B.S. in 1984. In 2010, she was named distinguished alum of the NDSU College of Science and Mathematics.
JoElla Kleinhesselink
  • USD Student

JoElla Kleinhesselink is a junior majoring in Political Science and Economics and minoring in History and Mathematics. She is an out of state student from northwest Washington State and is a Presidential Alumni Scholar as well as a Law Honors Scholar. After graduating JoElla intends on attending a joint degree program for law and economics and hopes to do work in the public sector. This past summer she conducted research in Washington D.C. and is continuing that work for her honors thesis on the (outer) space economy. JoElla works as a freshman resident assistant and writing consultant.

 Travis Letellier
  • USD interim Associate Vice President for Diversity

Travis L. Letellier is USD’s interim Associate Vice President for Diversity.  Born and raised in West River South Dakota, he has lived in Vermillion with his partner Quinn for the last six years. Travis has been at USD for five years as an instructor of economics in the Beacom School of Business and as Director of the South Dakota Council for Economic Education (SDCEE), a Beacom outreach service. During his time in Vermillion, Travis has been named Vermillion's Young Professional of the Year, he is a founding Commissioner of the City of Vermillion Human Relations Commission, serves on the South Dakota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and sits on the Vermillion City Council as Alderman for the Northeast Ward. Travis is also a member of the City of Vermillion's Home Rule Charter committee and the VCDC’s Governmental Affairs Committee. Travis grew up on a family ranch on the Rosebud Reservation, north of Mission, South Dakota. He received his bachelor’s degree from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and he completed advanced degrees in economics at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Prior to returning to South Dakota, Letellier was an economics lecturer at Florida International University, Penn State University, and Washington College.  
Eden Liebenthal
  • USD Student             
Eden Liebenthal, recipient Presidential Alumni Scholarship, is a senior in the social work program with a specialization in child welfare. Originally from Omaha, Eden plans to attend graduate school to obtain a master’s in social work with a concentration on social policy, advocacy, and community development after graduation. During the Spring of 2020, Eden studied abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica where she was able to finish her minor in Spanish. She is currently serving as president of the USD Women’s Rugby Club, a social work representative on the Health Science Student Advisory Council, a resident assistant, and a volunteer at the Vermillion Food Pantry.
Sara Mart
  • Academic Advisor
A graduate of USD with a bachelor's degree in speech communication ('91) and a master’s in communication studies ('06), Sara Mart worked for six years in admissions for Southwestern College (Kan.) before returning to USD in 1997 to work in the Admissions Office as an Admissions Counselor and then as the Associate Director of Admissions. In 2007, she transitioned to the Academic & Career Planning Center where as Assistant Director, she advises nursing majors, coordinates the First-Year Experience, and enjoys teaching USD 101 to freshmen nursing majors each fall. Sara enjoys supporting the USD Coyotes and the Vermillion High School Tanagers where her children are actively involved in music and sports.
Michelle Maloney
  • USD Alumna
A third generation USD alum, Michelle Maloney graduated with a degree in English and a minor in mass communications (now known as contemporary media and journalism). A supporter of all things USD, she serves on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, the Athletic Board of Control and the Howling Pack Board of Directors for USD. Michelle has owned and operated several businesses in Vermillion including Carey's Bar, RED Steakhouse and Scoops Ice Cream, and currently owns Maloney Real Estate and Property Management. She lives in Vermillion with her husband Kevin Murley (MFA 96').  Michelle Maloney
Daniel Mourlam
  • Assistant Professor
Daniel Mourlam, Associate Professor and Chair of Teacher Residency and Education, earned his Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Northern Iowa in 2015. He joined the University of South Dakota in 2015 and teaches courses in educational technology, secondary teaching methods, and STEM Education. His research focus is at the intersection of digital technologies and media with the beliefs and knowledge of pre- and in-service teachers, PK-12 learners, and university faculty. He is currently the Co-Chair of the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge Special Interest Group at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. Prior to joining the university, he was a technology coordinator, teacher, technology specialist, and project manager at both PK12 and post-secondary institutions.
 Carissa Occhipinto
  • USD Student
Carissa Occhipinto is a senior at USD and a recipient of the Dorothy C. Schieffer Scholarship. She is a Law Honors student and plans to pursue both a J.D. and MBA after completing her undergraduate degree, which includes her major in political science and minors in Spanish and history. Carissa serves as the President of Political Science League, Pre-Law Society, Pi Sigma Alpha (a political science Honors society), and is active in Greek life as a member of Kappa Alpha Theta.  
Matthew Schmitz
  • USD Student
Matthew Schmitz is a junior majoring in Medical Biology with minors in Chemistry and Neuroscience. He is initially from Sioux Falls, South Dakota where he attended high school in Brandon. An early passion for medicine led him to attend the University of South Dakota to pursue a pre-medical discipline. Post-undergraduate plans include attending the Sanford School of Medicine at USD. A few of his dedicated involvements include SARS-CoV-2 research with the Huber Lab, tutoring for the TRiO program, and playing percussion at a local church. Matthew is a recipient of the Presidential Alumni Scholarship and is also a fellow in the Sanford School of Medicine Alumni Student Scholar Program. Matthew Schmitz
 Haoran Sun
  • Associate Professor
Haoran Sun earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Jilin University. Prior to joining the Department of Chemistry at the University of South Dakota (USD), he worked on fluorinated metalloporphyrins and highly reactive nucleophilic fluorinating reagents at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dr. Sun joined the USD Department of Chemistry in 2008, and he teaches organic chemistry and electrochemistry courses for both undergraduate and graduate students. He also routinely mentors undergraduate and graduate research, which provides students indispensable hands-on learning experience outside the classroom. His lab’s research focuses on study of fluorinated materials for renewable energy generation and storage, as well as developing new fluorination methods for medicinal applications. He has authored and co-authored five book chapters and 84 peer-reviewed journal articles, and he obtained four U.S. patents. Awards include the NSF CAREER award and the USD President's Award for Research Excellence. Dr. Sun enjoys working with students and supporting their future success.  
Susan Tuve
  • Senior Director of Planned Giving, USD Foundation
Susan Tuve attended the University of South Dakota for two years and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in anthropology (a degree not available at USD at the time). The experience at both schools gave her an appreciation for the faculty support and academic and service opportunities afforded at USD as opposed to a much larger university. With a liberal arts background she had a successful career in the business world as a trust and investment banker. Her current position is with the University of South Dakota Foundation, an entity dedicated to raising private dollars for support of the University of South Dakota. She and her husband are chaperones for the USD Chamber singers when they go on tour. She is an avid Coyote fan. Her hobbies include reading, biking and jigsaw puzzles.