Joseph Vitt and Michael Allgrunn are the 2011 recipients of the Belbas-Larson Awards for Excellence in Teaching. They will be recognized at USD’s 124th Spring Commencement and each will receive a $5,000 tribute, a framed certificate commemorating their accomplishment and a commemorative medal. The Belbas-Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching is the highest honor USD bestows upon its educators.

Honored in the tenured category, Vitt is an associate professor in the department of chemistry. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from St. John's University (1987) and his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Iowa State University (1991). His teaching interests are in the areas of general and analytical chemistry, and he is also active in promoting undergraduate chemical education research. Vitt came to USD straight from his graduate work at Iowa State.

A photo of Joseph is available for download at

Recognized in the tenure-track category, Michael Allgrunn is an assistant professor in economics at the Beacom School of Business. A faculty member of USD since 2006, Allgrunn received his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University (2001), and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Michigan State University, all in economics. He teaches classes in subjects such as econometrics, labor economics, game theory and public finance. In addition, he is very involved with undergraduate research in economics. Allgrunn came to USD straight from Michigan State, where he researched labor economics and taught courses in both labor economics and microeconomic theory.

“One of the reasons I chose to come to USD was our strong focus on the student,” Allgrunn said upon being congratulated. “Our students, particularly our undergraduate students, get a far better education than students attending much larger schools because of our student-centered philosophy. We attract great students, they get a great education while they’re here, and they go on to do great things. It’s an honor to be a small part of that.”

A photo of Michael is available for download at

The Belbas-Larson Awards were established by a 1956 graduate of USD, Dean Belbas of Edina, Minn. and Sioux Falls, S.D., and his friends, Harold W. and Kathryn Larson of Bemidji, Minn. and Scottsdale, Ariz.

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