Philosophy, Political Science and Physics Professors Receive Cutler Awards

Photo of Cutler award winners. The 2018 Cutler Award winners: Joel Sander (left), Eric Jepsen (middle), and Joseph Tinguely (right).

VERMILLION, S.D. – Three members of the University of South Dakota College of Arts & Sciences faculty have received the 2018 Richard and Sharon Cutler Faculty Awards in Liberal Arts. This year’s recipients are Eric Jepsen, Ph.D., (Political Science), Joseph Tinguely, Ph.D., (Philosophy), and Joel Sander, Ph.D., (Physics). The Cutler Awards are presented annually to faculty who advance liberal arts education through teaching and research over a three-year span.

The award in the Social Sciences Division of the College of Arts & Sciences goes to Eric Jepsen, associate professor of political science. Jepsen joined the USD faculty 12 years ago and serves as internship director for undergraduate students in his department. Under Jepsen’s direction, the political science department doubled its number of summer interninternships from 14 placements in 2015 to 34 in 2017. He also chairs the College of Arts & Sciences Blue Ribbon Task Force on Student Recruitment, where he leads the committee’s work to increase the role that college departments and faculty play in recruiting students to campus. Jepsen’s research focuses on the political economy of investment flows and government strategies for development in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. A few of the classes he teaches include Governments of the World, World Politics, and Democracy and Authoritarianism.


Sander, the recipient in the Mathematics/Natural Sciences Division, is an assistant professor of physics. A member of the USD faculty since 2013, Sander’s research efforts focus on attempting to detect dark matter particles interacting in a detector on Earth. He has obtained five external grants to support his studies, including helping to build the USD-led consortium of scientists that won a $4.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Sander teaches Introductory Physics I and II and Astronomy I and II, bringing in additional concepts—such as astronomical breakthroughs by non-western cultures and advances by women astronomers—to engage students in the topic. Sander also mentors and guides master’s and doctoral level physics students as well as undergraduate honors theses.


Tinguely, assistant professor of philosophy, is the recipient in the Humanities Division. Tinguely has taught courses in ethics, philosophy, history and aesthetics since coming to USD in 2012. His approach to teaching promotes learning as an activity that needs to be practiced and cultivated. Classroom activities in Tinguely’s courses expand on reading and discussion to include interactive, visual representations of concepts such as power and revolution. Tinguely serves as coordinator of the Philosophy Program. In recent years the program introduced a degree specialization in “Ethics, Law, and Society” while doubling the number of majors and course enrollments. In addition, the program is now initiating a Professional Ethics Certificate for USD students. As a researcher, he studies Kant and Post-Kantianism, aesthetics, social and political thought, and 19th and 20th century European philosophy. Last year, Tinguely published his first book, Finding the World: The Reorientation of Kant’s Aesthetics.


The Cutler Awards were endowed in 2003 by Richard and Sharon Cutler of Sioux Falls 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 has been 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 USD Foundation, co-chair of Campaign South Dakota, and chair of the board of trustees of the National Music Museum. He is a founding partner of Cutler Law Firm in Sioux Falls.

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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.

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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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