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Gordon-Bland and Lombardi Honored with Belbas Larson Awards

Belbas Larson award winners. Professors Chaya Gordon-Bland and Paul Lombardi are the recipients of the 2018 Belbas Larson Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Professors Chaya Gordon-Bland and Paul Lombardi are the recipients of the 2018 University of South Dakota Belbas Larson Awards for Excellence in Teaching. They will be honored at the USD commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 5, and each will receive $5,000.

Candidates for the awards are nominated by students and colleagues and selected by a faculty committee based on a variety of metrics such as demanding rigorous standards of performance, inspiring students to greater achievement and ensuring course content represents the highest standards in the field.

Gordon-Bland, an associate professor of theatre at USD, is the managing artistic director of the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival and was honored in the tenured category . Her professional background includes work as an actor, teaching artist, fight director and director at theatre companies across the country including the American Shakespeare Center, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, American Globe Theatre, Inwood Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespeare Festival, and Native Voices at the Autry.

Gordon-Bland earned her Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008. Her teaching interests include mask, movement, Shakespeare, period styles, and stage combat. She is also a 2nd degree black belt through the American Taekwondo Association and has numerous skill proficiency certifications in fight methods from the Society of American Fight Directors.

“I am deeply honored to be recognized with this prestigious teaching award from the University of South Dakota,” Gordon-Bland said. “I feel tremendous gratitude towards my colleagues, peers, and most of all my students, for creating a teaching and learning environment that continues to challenge and inspire me to deeper depths and greater heights in my work as a teacher and theatre artist.”

Lombardi is an assistant professor of music theory and composition in the Department of Music in the College of Fine Arts and was honored in the tenure-track category.

Lombardi earned his Doctor of Philosophy in music composition from the University of Oregon in 2004. He earned a Master of Music in music composition in 1998 and a Bachelor of Music in music theory and composition in 1996 from California State University, Sacramento. He earned an Associate of Science degree from the College of the Siskiyous in 1994. His music has been performed in more than 30 states across the US, as well as in other areas in North America, South America, and Europe. His theoretical research focuses on the mathematics of music.

“I appreciate that my hard work was acknowledged with this award. I could not have done it without support from my family, friends, colleagues, and students,” Lombardi 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.


USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.


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