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.

Hannah Haksgaard headshot

Hannah Haksgaard, J.D., honored in the tenured category, is a professor in the Knudson School of Law.

“I am truly honored to receive the Belbas-Larson award. Since I was a small child, I wanted to be a teacher,” said Haksgaard. “Working as a professor at USD has allowed me to teach in an inspiring environment. My students and colleagues continuously push me to be a better teacher.”

Haksgaard grew up outside of Yankton and returned home to South Dakota when she began teaching at USD in 2016. At the Knudson School of Law, Haksgaard teaches Family Law, Property, Modern Real Estate Transactions, and Reproduction & the Law. She also advises several student groups including the “South Dakota Law Review,” the law school’s student-run academic journal.

“In my teaching, the thing I am most proud of is always working hard and trying my best. Perfection is not possible with teaching, but every day I come to class prepared,” Haksgaard said. “Always trying my best has made all the difference in my development, and I like to think that it inspires my students to do the same.”

Lauren Freese, Ph.D., honored in the non-tenured category, is an assistant professor in the Department of Art.

Lauren Freese headshot

“I have been fortunate to have many excellent teachers and professors throughout my academic career,” said Freese. “It is my honor to be recognized for carrying on the skills, techniques and methods I have learned from them.”

Freese joined the Department of Art in August of 2017. She teaches art history courses at all levels, including introductory surveys, applied curatorial coursework and advanced seminar-style coursework for both undergraduate and graduate students. Freese believes in the importance of the arts and humanities for all students, regardless of background, major or career interest.

“Art history can offer students a space to engage deeply with culture and history, develop intellectual creativity and curiosity, and build writing and research skills,” Freese said.

Freese is committed to service that advances student research, including her work with IdeaFest, UDiscover and the Honors Program.

Freese earned her Ph.D. in American art history from the University of Iowa in 2017. Her research examines the intersection of art history and food studies. She is currently working on a book that examines fruit illustrations produced by the United States Department of Agriculture. This project was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend program.

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