Dean and Lohre Distinguished Professor Michael Kruger, Ph.D., presented annual awards to recipients via a Zoom meeting with more than 125 faculty and staff in attendance online.

The 2020 award winners include the following.

Monsignor James Doyle Humanities Teaching Award:

Jillian Linster, Ph.D., lecturer in the Department of English, earned the Doyle Award, which is given to a college faculty member in a humanities discipline. Linster, who earned her master’s degree in English from USD in 2011, has taught online classes full-time since 2017 and on a part-time basis for many years prior. Her standard classes are Composition I and II and Introduction to Literature. This summer and next year, she will teach Introduction to British Literature and a new Professional Writing course. At the onset of moving USD classes to remote learning the spring, Linster produced a guide on best practices for Arts & Sciences faculty members based on her years of online instruction.

The Doyle award is made possible thanks to a gift from Monsignor James Michael Doyle, former chair of religious studies at USD and a prominent theologian inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame.

Blaire and Linda Tremere Faculty Service Award

Julia Hellwege, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science, received the Tremere Award, which is presented to a member of the college faculty who has demonstrated outstanding public service to the local community or to the state of South Dakota. Hellwege joined the USD faculty six years ago and has contributed to her community through public service as an elected member of Vermillion City Council, a member the Vermillion Home Rule study committee and as an organizer for a campus-wide diversity event. She also served as coordinator for National Voter Registration day and has instilled a sense of community citizenship in her students through a Civic Engagement project for her American Government class.

All tenure-track and tenured faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences are eligible to receive the Tremere Award. Linda (Schuller) Tremere is a 1970 alumna from the USD School of Business (B.S., accounting) and a native of Amherst, South Dakota. Blair Tremere, a Sioux Falls native, is a 1968 alumnus from the USD College of Arts & Sciences (B.A., government/journalism) and also received his M.A. in Public Administration from USD in 1971.

Richard and Sharon Cutler Faculty Awards

One faculty member in each of the college’s three divisions has earned the Cutler Award, which are presented to faculty who advance liberal arts education through teaching and research over a three-year span.

Elise Boxer, Ph.D., assistant professor of history and program coordinator of the Native American Studies Program, won the award in the humanities division. Boxer is the sole faculty member appointed to Native American Studies, where she developed and taught 16 new courses since joining USD in 2014. Her research focuses on Mormon and Indigenous history in the U.S. West.

Matthew Fairholm, Ph.D., professor of political science, earned the honor in the social sciences division. He has taught public administration and leadership studies at USD since 2002. His approach to teaching undergraduates through doctoral students includes respecting the learning process of students at each level and modeling critical thinking, decision-making skills and a responsible application of knowledge in the broader community. Fairholm has written two books on leadership and regularly engages in outreach with nonprofit and government organizations. 

Kenneth Renner, Ph.D., professor of biology, is the recipient in the math/science division. A USD faculty member since 1994, Renner’s approach to teaching is to assist students in gaining a foundation in basic scientific principles, an understanding of mechanisms underlying physiological responses, current problems in the field and the interest to learn more. His recent research has been directed towards understanding the role of corticosterone-sensitive organic cation transporters in the brain with respect to the regulation of the stress response.

The Cutler Awards were endowed in 2003 by Richard and Sharon Cutler of Sioux Falls. A former member of the board of directors of Senior Companions of Sioux Falls, Sharon Cutler has been active in Sioux Falls community organizations. Richard Cutler (1941-2019) earned a B.A. in history (’63) and a J.D. (’65) at USD and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the university in 1997. He has been chair of USD Foundation, co-chair of Campaign South Dakota, and chair of the board of trustees of the National Music Museum. He was a founding partner of Cutler Law Firm in Sioux Falls. 

Outstanding Instructor Award

Melanie Wood, M.F.A., instructor in the Department of English, earned the Outstanding Instructor Award, which is given to a faculty member in the College of Arts & Sciences who demonstrates outstanding classroom teaching and mentoring of students. Wood, who also holds a master’s in English from USD, began teaching in the department in 2005. She teaches mostly general education and introductory-level courses and strives to ensure her students gain skills and knowledge while also feeling part of the intellectual work at USD. Recently, she worked with the Writing Program Curriculum Committee to introduce Toni Morrison’s novel "Beloved" as a “common read” book taught in all Spring 2019 Introduction to Literature classes.

The award is made possible through an annual gift of the Johnson family. Mary Elizabeth Johnson is a USD graduate in mass communication who served as Chaplain at the Mayo Clinic for over three decades, working closely with women experiencing health issues and loss. Johnson completed graduate work at Seattle University, and served as an adjunct member of the Mayo Medical School.

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