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USD Announces Cutler Award Winners

Photo of Laura Vidler and Mark Sweeney. Laura Vidler, Ph.D., professor and chair of modern languages & linguistics and Mark Sweeney, associate professor of earth sciences, earned the 2017 Richard and Sharon Cutler Faculty Awards in Liberal Arts.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Laura Vidler, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Modern Languages & Linguistics and Mark Sweeney, Ph.D., associate professor of earth sciences, earned the 2017 Richard and Sharon Cutler Faculty Awards in Liberal Arts presented annually to faculty who advance liberal arts education through teaching and research over a three-year span.

Vidler, the recipient in the Humanities Division of the College of Arts & Sciences, joined the faculty as a professor and chair of modern languages and linguistics in 2014. She teaches introductory and advanced classes in Spanish language and literature and organizes service-learning and outreach projects for USD students to use their Spanish in real-world situations. Her research focuses on performance theory and theoretical approaches to the staging, reconstruction and adaptation of early modern Spanish drama. In 2014, Vidler published the book “Performance Reconstruction and Spanish Golden Age Drama: Reviving and Revising the Comedia.”

Vidler earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine, and her B.A. from New York University.

The award in the Mathematics/Natural Sciences Division goes to Mark Sweeney, associate professor of earth sciences. Sweeney joined USD in 2006 and teaches earth sciences, global climate change, national parks and monuments and river studies. He is also a faculty member in USD’s Sustainability Program. His primary research activities center on the formation, transportation and deposition of dust. This research sheds light on dust as a health and visibility hazard and helps researchers understand past climates. Through USD’s Missouri River Institute, Sweeney also studies sediment sources, in particular the sedimentation problem in Lewis and Clark Lake.

Sweeney received his Ph.D. from Washington State University and M.S. and B.S. from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

The Cutler Awards were endowed in 2003 by Richard and Sharon Cutler of Sioux Falls, South Dakota to recognize distinguished faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences. A former member of the board of directors of Senior Companions of Sioux Falls, Sharon Cutler is active in Sioux Falls community organizations. Richard Cutler earned a B.A. in history, ’63, and a J.D, ’65, at USD and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the university in 1997. He has been chair of the 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.


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


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