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USD College of Fine Arts Hosts Celebration of Excellence to Honor First Hall of Fame Recipients

USD College of Fine Arts Celebration of Excellence, Honoring the 2021 Hall of Fame Recipients Oct. 22-24. The USD College of Fine Arts is hosting the Celebration of Excellence event in honor of its first cohort of Hall of Fame recipients.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota College of Fine Arts is set to host its inaugural Celebration of Excellence event Oct. 22-24 to honor its first cohort of College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame recipients. A reception, free and open to the public, will be held Oct. 23 from 6-7 p.m.

The Hall of Fame serves to recognize outstanding alumni, educators and friends of the College of Fine Arts who have helped establish its 90 years of excellence. This year, 10 individuals who have impacted the college in significant ways will be honored.

“The College of Fine Arts was founded in 1931, during the darkest days of the Great Depression, and we have long represented the hope, inspiration and power of the arts to change the world,” said Bruce Kelley, Ph.D., dean of the College of Fine Arts. “It is time for us to say thank you to the amazing people who have worked so hard to make this college successful. For 90 years, the USD College of Fine Arts has been at the forefront of artistic excellence in the state of South Dakota. As we honor those who have given their time, talents, and resources to support fine arts, we inspire and challenge our current and future students to do the same.”

The 2021 Hall of Fame recipients:

Outstanding Alumni

  • Janet Brown, ’73, ‘04
  • André P. Larson, ’64, ‘68
  • Ruth Lingen, ‘80

Outstanding Educators

  • Wayne S. Knutson, ‘51
  • Wilber Moore Stilwell
  • Frank J. Aiello

Outstanding Friends

  • Evelyn Schlenker
  • Doug and Sue Tuve
  • Tom Schaack

Special Recognition Award

  • Oscar Howe

In future years, the College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame selection committee will choose three recipients to honor annually during the Celebration of Excellence.

“There are so many deserving individuals,” said Kelley. “For that reason, we decided to recognize three recipients in each of the categories this first year, each of whom presented something unique and special.”

A wooden sculpture honor wall was recently constructed and installed on the wall to the east of the John A. Day Art Gallery in the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts. Hall of Fame recipients will be recognized by brass nameplates throughout the sculpture.

The initial design of the honor wall was developed by Amy Fill, director of the USD University Art Galleries. Implementation and construction of the wall was completed by Natalie Higgason, M.F.A. sculpture student, under the direction of Fill, and with the assistance of Levi Sternburg, a B.F.A. sculpture graduate. Installation of the wall was completed by Fill and Courtney Lavallie, University Art Galleries assistant.

Hall of Fame recipients will receive an award designed and constructed by James Quigley, USD assistant professor of graphic design. The award depicts a series of geometric planes that provide a 3D outline of the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts building.

The Celebration of Excellence event will also serve as the grand reopening of the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre and the Colton Recital Hall as well as the opening of the new College of Fine Arts sculpture yard.

To learn more about the Celebration of Excellence, the weekend schedule and the Hall of Fame recipients, visit


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