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Two faculty members honored for excellence in teaching at USD

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota will honor two of its faculty for excellence in teaching at the 2011 Spring Commencement ceremony on May 7.

Joseph Vitt and Michael Allgrunn are the 2011 recipients of the Belbas-Larson Awards for Excellence in Teaching. They will be recognized at USD’s 124th Spring Commencement and each will receive a $5,000 tribute, a framed certificate commemorating their accomplishment and a commemorative medal. The Belbas-Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching is the highest honor USD bestows upon its educators.

Honored in the tenured category, Vitt is an associate professor in the department of chemistry. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from St. John's University (1987) and his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Iowa State University (1991). His teaching interests are in the areas of general and analytical chemistry, and he is also active in promoting undergraduate chemical education research. Vitt came to USD straight from his graduate work at Iowa State.

A photo of Joseph is available for download at

Recognized in the tenure-track category, Michael Allgrunn is an assistant professor in economics at the Beacom School of Business. A faculty member of USD since 2006, Allgrunn received his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University (2001), and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Michigan State University, all in economics. He teaches classes in subjects such as econometrics, labor economics, game theory and public finance. In addition, he is very involved with undergraduate research in economics. Allgrunn came to USD straight from Michigan State, where he researched labor economics and taught courses in both labor economics and microeconomic theory.

“One of the reasons I chose to come to USD was our strong focus on the student,” Allgrunn said upon being congratulated. “Our students, particularly our undergraduate students, get a far better education than students attending much larger schools because of our student-centered philosophy. We attract great students, they get a great education while they’re here, and they go on to do great things. It’s an honor to be a small part of that.”

A photo of Michael is available for download at

The Belbas-Larson Awards were established by a 1956 graduate of USD, Dean Belbas of Edina, Minn. and Sioux Falls, S.D., and his friends, Harold W. and Kathryn Larson of Bemidji, Minn. and Scottsdale, Ariz.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News