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Tracelyn Gesteland Receives Prestigious Knutson Distinguished Professor Award

Tracelyn Gesteland portrait USD professor Tracelyn Gesteland, D.M.A., received the prestigious 2020-2022 College of Fine Arts Knutson Distinguished Professor Award.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Tracelyn Gesteland, D.M.A., professor of voice/opera and the Walter A. and Lucy Yoshioka Buhler Endowed Chair, received the prestigious 2020-2022 College of Fine Arts Knutson Distinguished Professor Award.

Gesteland’s research and creative scholarship has received national recognition. She has performed solo and duo recitals and has been on the concert stage with organizations such as the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, the Elgin Opera, the Lone Star Lyric Theatre Festival, the National Opera Association and the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). Her professional opera credits include leading roles in four productions for Houston Grand Opera’s touring outreach program. She is also an award-winning director, she brought USD’s opera program to national recognition and she directed operas for the Lone Star Lyric Theater Festival and the Harrower Opera in Atlanta.

Gesteland has presented lecture-recitals nationally and at the International Congress of Voice Teachers conferences in Stockholm, Sweden, and Brisbane, Australia. In 2016, she was selected for the highly competitive NATS Emerging Leader Award as one of only seven recipients nationwide. 

“Congratulations to Dr. Gesteland for her outstanding achievements in research and creative scholarship and for her selection for the College of Fine Arts Knutson Distinguished Professor Award,” said Bruce C. Kelley, Ph.D., interim dean for the College of Fine Arts. “Dr. Gesteland’s work is truly remarkable.”

The Knutson Distinguished Professor Award was established in honor of Wayne S. Knutson who served the University of South Dakota from 1952-1987. Knutson was a champion of the fine arts, and his work touched communities across the state and region. He inspired, mentored and stood as an example to South Dakotans through his sterling gifts as teacher, artist, consultant and friend.


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