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Kerby, Holdhusen honored with 2014 Belbas-Larson Awards at USD

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Jacob Kerby and David Holdhusen have been named the recipients of the 2014 Belbas-Larson Awards for Excellence in Teaching at the University of South Dakota. Both gentlemen will be honored at the 127th Spring Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 10 at the Dakota Dome. The Belbas-Larson Awards for Excellence in Teaching is the highest honor USD bestows upon its educators and includes a $5,000 tribute to each recipient, a framed certificate commemorating their accomplishment and a commemorative medal.

Kerby, Ph.D., from the College of Arts & Sciences, is assistant professor of biology and was honored in the tenure track category. He teaches General Biology I each fall semester and either Disease Ecology or Environmental Toxicology and Contaminants in the spring. Kerby received a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology from Pepperdine University (1996), a master’s degree in biology from California State University, Northridge (2003) and a Ph.D. in Ecology from University of California, Davis (2006). His current research integrates many fields of study to investigate the causes of amphibian declines worldwide, focusing on understanding the multiple stressors – biotic and abiotic – on aquatic communities. In addition to his teaching and research at USD, Kerby serves as the Director of Research for the Missouri River Institute. In 2011, Kerby was honored with a President’s Award for Research Excellence at USD making him the first to receive both of the University’s top awards.

“I feel truly humbled to receive this honor given the great teachers that have been previously awarded,” Kerby said. “The reason I became a university professor is that I am able to combine my zeal for both teaching and scientific research. My role as the director of research at the Missouri River Institute has allowed me to place many of our students in summer jobs where they are able to learn biology in a real and meaningful way. I have had great success in my career only because of the many teachers that took the time to mentor me. My dedication to teaching is simply paying back that great debt.”

Download a photo of Kerby.

Holdhusen, Ph.D., from the College of Fine Arts, is the director of Choral Activities and an associate professor of music who was honored in the tenured category. Holdhusen also serves as the conductor for the university’s three choral ensembles as well as teaching courses in conducting, choral literature and techniques, and applied voice. Additionally, Holdhusen is director of USD’s annual Choral Directors Institute and the USD Summer Music Camp. He received a B.A. in Music and Education from Gustavus Adolphus College (1996); a master of music in Choral Conducting from Northwestern University (1998) and a Ph.D. in Music Education from Florida State University (2007).

“It truly is an honor to be recognized for the work I do, especially among such outstanding faculty at USD. I am very fortunate to work for an institution that values teaching and supports what I do,” Holdhusen stated. “When I chose to enter the teaching profession, this is exactly the kind of position I hoped to have. As a musician and conductor I always believed my job was to educate and inspire my singers to reach new heights of artistic expression while providing the foundation for them to be lifelong learners who are passionate about music. From the time I was in ninth grade I knew I wanted to teach choral music at the collegiate level. USD has given me the opportunity to fulfill this ambition.”

Download a photo of Holdhusen.

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, 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.

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