Gesteland, Sik Receive 2015 Belbas-Larson Awards at USD

VERMILLION, S.D. – Professors Tracelyn Gesteland and Sarah Sik are the recipients of the 2015 Belbas-Larson Awards for Excellence in Teaching at the University of South Dakota. They will be honored at the USD commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 9, and each will receive $5,000.

Candidates for the award are nominated by students and colleagues and selected by a faculty committee.

Gesteland, D.M.A., is an associate professor of music in the College of Fine Arts and was honored in the tenured category. She currently teaches Applied Voice, Vocal Pedagogy, and Diction, while also directing the USD Opera and holding the Walter A. and Lucy Yoshioka Buhler Endowed Chair. In addition to teaching, Gesteland is a professional singer who directs the South Dakota Vocal Arts Festival and serves as the District Governor for the South Dakota district of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).

She received her bachelor of music in choral and general music education from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1994; master of music in vocal performance and vocal pedagogy from Roosevelt University in 1999; and doctor of musical arts in vocal performance from the University of Houston in 2007.

“Teaching has always been my passion, so receiving such a prestigious award in recognition of my work with students means a great deal to me.” Gesteland said.

Sik, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of art in the College of Fine Arts and was honored in the tenure-track category. This semester she is teaching World Art II, 20th Century Art, Art Theory and Criticism, and a faculty-led program to New York City focused on historical and contemporary art. During the summers of 2011, 2012, and 2013, she also taught art history at universities in China.

Her teaching interests include the history of fine arts, design, alternative media, aesthetics, and critical theory, with her primary research emphasis being French and German fine art and design, circa 1870-1918. She received her B.A. in English and art history in 2004, M.A. in art history in 2006, and Ph.D. in art history in 2010 from the University of Minnesota.

“In receiving the award, I am particularly mindful of all that I owe not only to my own teachers but to my colleagues here in South Dakota who work in concert to provide well-rounded and emboldening educations for students at USD,” Sik said.

The Belbas-Larson Awards are made possible by a gift from Dean Belbas, a former vice president of General Mills and former chairman of the board of the USD Foundation, and his close friends Harold W. and Kathryn Larson of Scottsdale, Arizona.

Download photos of Sik and Gesteland.

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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 205 undergraduate and 73 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 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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