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Beacom School of Business Presents Annual Awards

Image 2016 Beacom Awards USD Beacom School of Business 2016 award winners: Denise Knutson, Reanna Bertram, Kathryn Birkeland, Billie Jo Waara, Thomas Davies and Amanda Kellen.

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business honored faculty, staff, students and an accomplished alumna at its annual awards banquet for teaching, research and service to the school and regional economy in both the public and private sectors.

Those who received awards at Friday’s ceremony:

  • Beacom School of Business Faculty Excellence Award – Teaching: Tom Davies, Black Hills Corp. Distinguished Professor of Accounting. Davies serves as chair of the division of accounting and finance at USD. He has authored/co-authored more than 50 journal articles, and received the Belbas-Larson Award for excellence in teaching from USD in 2009.
  • Beacom School of Business Faculty Excellence Award – Research: Kathryn Birkeland, assistant professor of economics. Birkeland’s primary area of research is the economics of education, focusing on higher education finance, student aid programs, access to college, and the combined effects of tax structure and higher education funding policies.
  • Beacom School of Business Dean’s Award of Excellence: Denise Knutson, program assistant for student services. Knutson has served the Beacom School of Business and its students for 26 years.
  • Beacom School of Business Distinguished Service Award: Billie Jo Waara, chief marketing officer for Taco John’s International. Waara’s focus is marketing strategy, innovation and menu development for the chain’s 400 restaurants. Waara received her MBA from the University of South Dakota.

Two business students were also recognized. Reanna Bertram received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award. She is a student in the joint B.B.A./M.P.A. program from Vermillion. Bertram has accepted a full-time position as an audit assistant with Deloitte in Omaha, Nebraska, after graduation. Amanda Kellen was honored with the Outstanding Senior Award. Kellen is from Cherokee, Iowa, and is pursuing a major in finance and a minor in accounting. After graduation, Kellen will begin full-time employment with the FDIC in Des Moines, Iowa.

"The awards banquet is an occasion to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of our best and the brightest,” said Venky Venkatachalam, Ph.D., dean at the Beacom School of Business. “Our faculty are truly outstanding and committed to both teaching and research excellence, a hallmark of our accreditation status."


USD's Beacom School of Business was established in 1927 and has been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) since 1949. The leading business school in the region, Beacom’s programs are consistently ranked among the top business schools in the nation by Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and others for its high-quality learning experience, student success, affordability, and high-caliber of faculty and students. Whether a student chooses face-to-face or online courses, Beacom’s programs emphasize real-world experience through professional organizations, quality internships and capstone projects.


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 84 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.


Hanna DeLange
USD News