VERMILLION, S.D. – Professors Christopher Meyer and Prentiss Clark are the recipients of the 2019 University of South Dakota Belbas-Larson Awards for Excellence in Teaching. They will be honored at the USD commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 4, and they will each 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.
Meyer, honored in the tenured category, is an associate professor of art and head of the sculpture program at the USD College of Fine Arts. His professional background includes exhibiting sculpture and installations nationally and regionally, presenting his work at various cast iron art conferences and symposiums across the nation and conducting cast iron art performances also at a national level.
Meyer earned his Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts - Sculpture from the University of Montana in 2003, and he is an alumnus of the USD College of Fine Arts, where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art - Sculpture in 2000. His artwork ranges from abstracted, or non-objective, to representational sculpture in a variety of materials and processes, installation and cast iron performance. His teaching interests include all aspects of sculpture ranging from cast metals, metal fabrication, forging, wood carving, wood fabrication, plastics, mixed media, fibers, digital applications, mold-making, modeling, interactive work, installation and performance art. Meyer hosts The Little Pour on the Prairie each summer, which is an annual iron pour at his home studio, and he is also a member of the board of directors for the Western Cast Iron Art Alliance.
“I am honored to have been selected for this most prestigious teaching award from the University of South Dakota,” Meyer said. “I feel uplifted being recognized by the university community and immensely grateful to work where I do with my colleagues and peers. I could not have earned this award without equally dedicated students who are willing to take risks and invest in hard work, nor without the support of my friends and family."
Clark is an assistant professor of English in the Department of English in the College of Arts & Sciences and was honored in the tenure-track category.
Clark received her Doctor of Philosophy from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2014. Her teaching and research interests range widely in American literature, literature and philosophy and the value of the humanities for human existence and civic life. Some of her favorite courses include Honors English, Ethics in Literature, Introduction to Criticism, and seminars in 19th-century American literature. She is currently completing “Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Literary Companion” for McFarland publishers and working on a monograph titled “Measures of Intimacy: Emerson to Du Bois to Baldwin.”
“When I moved here I thought I was moving to a small town but since joining the USD community my world has grown much wider,” said Clark. “I feel incredibly fortunate to be in a place where teaching and learning and research can flourish. To my students and colleagues: It is a pleasure and privilege to work with you.”
The Belbas-Larson Awards are made possible by a gift from Dean Belbas, a former 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.