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
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