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Spring/Summer 2016


Dan Van Peursem, Ph.D., and Matthew Sayre, Ph.D., have

received the 2016 Richard and Sharon Cutler Faculty Awards

in Liberal Arts, presented annually to USD faculty who

advance liberal arts education through teaching and research

over a three-year span.

Van Peursem, the recipient in the Mathematics/Natural

Sciences Division of the College of Arts & Sciences, is

professor and chair of mathematical sciences. A member of

the USD faculty since 1997, he has served as chair of the

department since 2004 and currently teaches introductory

calculus and modern geometry courses as well as the

major’s capstone requirement. His research interests include

analytical modeling of groundwater flow and mathematical

modeling of population dynamics and the spread of disease.

Van Peursem said mentoring students, often on their

honors research projects, is one of the most important aspects

of his job. “Working closely with students is where I find

my greatest sense of accomplishment and feel is our most

important calling,” Van Peursem said. “If we can spark that

interest in students to look beyond the obvious and ask

the deeper questions looking for connections, I feel we are

preparing them well for life as liberally educated citizens.”

Van Peursem earned his Ph.D. from the University of

Nebraska–Lincoln, his M.S. from the University of South

Dakota and his B.A. from Northwestern College.

The award in the Social Sciences Division goes to

Matthew Sayre, assistant professor of anthropology and

incoming chair of the Department of Anthropology and

Sociology. Sayre joined USD in 2011 and teaches courses in

biological anthropology, archeology and paleoethnobotany.

He is also a faculty member in the sustainability program.

Over three summers, Sayre has led undergraduate students

on an archeological field school in Peru at the UNESCO

World Heritage site of Chavin de Huantar, the primary

location of his research on the ecological, agricultural,

economic and ritual practices of people in the Andes.

Exposing students to archeological sites and the process of

excavating and interpreting their discoveries is a crucial part

of his role as a professor, he said. “Our field really requires

this experience,” Sayre said. “It’s one thing to tell students

about this 3,000-year-old temple in Peru, but it’s another

thing to be there and realize how amazing it is that people

were building something like this in middle of the second

highest mountains on earth.”

Sayre received his Ph.D. and M.A. from the University

of California, Berkeley, and his B.A. from the University

of Chicago.

The Cutler Awards were endowed in 2003 by Richard and

Sharon Cutler of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to recognize

distinguished faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Each winner received a $4,000 cash prize payable through

the University of South Dakota Foundation.

Van Peursem, Sayre Honored with Cutler Awards

Dan Van Peursem and Matthew Sayre