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Cutler Awards honor three faculty members at USD

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Three distinguished members of the University of South Dakota faculty are recipients of the 2014 Richard and Sharon Cutler Faculty Awards in Liberal Arts.

Shane Semmler, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication studies, Paula Mabee, Ph.D., professor of biology, and Chad Newswander, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science, will be honored at the 127th Spring Commencement and receive a $4,000 cash prize payable through the University of South Dakota Foundation. The Cutler Awards are presented annually to faculty who advance liberal arts education through teaching and research over a three-year span.

Semmler, the recipient in the Humanities Division of the College of Arts and Sciences, is an assistant professor with the department of communication studies. He has taught at USD since 2011 in addition to teaching courses on communications, public speaking, persuasion, and political communication, he has authored several articles on everything from presidential election campaigns to the art of making conversation. Semmler received his Ph.D. in communication from the University of Oklahoma, his M.A. in communication studies from USD and a B.A. in government from Augustana.

A photo of Semmler is available for download at

Mabee, who has taught at USD since 1998, received the award for the Mathematics/Natural Sciences Division. She has been honored several times for her outstanding research, including in 2009 at USD as a recipient of the President’s Award for Research Excellence; the President’s Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at USD (2003); and as a AAAS Fellow for “Fundamental studies on the development and evolution of fishes”. Her articles have been published in the Journal of Biomedical Semantics, the Journal of Fish Biology, Standards in Genomic Sciences, and Journal of Morphology. Mabee received her Ph.D. in zoology from Duke University; and a B.A. in biology and religion from St. Olaf College.

A photograph of Mabee is available for download at

Newswander was recognized in the Social Sciences Division and his research focuses on public administration, power and politics, domestic security, administrative statesmanship, and constitutional governance. He has been published in Public Administration Review, Administration & Society, American Review of Public Administration, and Administrative Theory & Praxis. A member of the USD faculty since 2009, Newswander received his Ph.D. in public administration/public affairs from Virginia Tech, his M.A. in communication from Virginia Tech, his M.P.A. from Virginia Tech and a B.A. in communications from Brigham Young University.

A photo of Newswander is available for download at

The Cutler Awards were endowed in 2003 by Richard and Sharon Cutler of Sioux Falls, S.D. to recognize distinguished faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences. A former member of the board of directors of Senior Companions of Sioux Falls, Sharon Cutler has been active in Sioux Falls community organizations. Richard Cutler earned a B.A. in history and a J.D. at USD, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by USD in 1997. He has been chair of USD Foundation, co-chair of Campaign South Dakota, and chair of the board of trustees of the National Music Museum. He is an attorney with Cutler & Donahoe, LLP, in Sioux Falls.


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, Knudson 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.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News