Lavin, Yutrzenka receive Belbas-Larson Awards Teaching styles are developed and influenced in many ways. For Angeline Lavin and Barbara Yutrzenka, professors at The University of South Dakota, innovation and effectiveness, and most importantly, making themselves accessible to students are important characteristics of their teaching.
For their dedication to teaching, Lavin and Yutrzenka have been awarded USD's Belbas-Larson Excellence in Teaching Awards. They were honored during this spring's commencement.
Yutrzenka, professor of psychology and director of the USD Clinical Psychology Training Program in the College of Arts & Science, has taught at USD since 1984. She received the Belbas-Larson award for a tenured faculty member.
Lavin, an assistant professor in the Finance Department of the School of Business, came to USD in 1997. She received the non-tenured faculty award.
The recognition includes $5,000 cash awards. These awards were established by 1956 USD graduate Dean Belbas of Edina, MN and Sioux Falls, and his friends, Harold W. and Kathryn Larson of Bemidji, MN and Scottsdale, AZ.
According to USD Vice President of Academic Affairs Don Dahlin, Belbas-Larson awards recognize professors who set high performance standards for themselves and for their students. The recipients inspire students to greater achievement; provide evidence that course content represents the highest standards in the field; maintain involvement with students outside the classroom; receive positive evaluations by students; show evidence of continuing professional development; and demonstrate improved teaching technique.
"USD has a long tradition of excellent teaching," said Dahlin. "We continually engage in many activities to support and recognize superior teaching, but of the many activities, the Belbas-Larson award is our premier program to recognize the 'best of the best' teachers on our faculty. And, certainly, Barb Yutrzenka and Angeline Lavin are most worthy recipients of this award as they truly are superb teachers."
Lavin � non-tenured
A love for teaching, tied to classroom enthusiasm is a trait that Lavin developed early in her teaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Nebraska. Since joining the School of Business in August 1997, her focus has been continuous development of her teaching methods.
"I strive to be an innovative, effective instructor, and I pride myself on being available to my students. As I receive comments from students, I try to revise my classes to better meet their needs, particularly with respect to bringing real world financial applications to the classroom," said Lavin, who earned her master of business administration degree (1996) and doctoral degree (1997) from the University of Nebraska. Lavin earned her bachelor of science degree at USD (1993).
"I am honored to receive the award and sincerely appreciate the efforts of those who took the time to nominate me for the award," said Lavin. "Receiving the award will motivate me to an even higher standard of quality instruction and curriculum innovation as I strive to continue to demonstrate to my students that learning can be an enjoyable life-long endeavor," she said.
Student Robb Tyson, one of Lavin's nominators, said Lavin has overwhelming respect and appreciation among the students. He cited her organizational skills and her willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to help students understand the course material.
"Where Dr. Lavin really excels as a teacher is the content and presentation of her course material," Tyson said in his nomination of Lavin. "She uses numerous sources for the material that she presents in class and regularly recommends opportunities for students to participate in class related presentations, events and competitions," he said.
In addition to advising approximately 25 undergraduate business students since fall 1997, Lavin teaches courses in business finance, investments, security analysis and speculative markets. She serves as an advisor to two student organizations, including the Coyote Investment Club and the USD student chapter of the Financial Management Association International, and she is an active member of the Financial Management Association International and the Midwest Finance Association. Lavin also serves on various USD committees and task forces.
Yutrzenka � tenured
A student-focused and adaptive teaching style has earned Yutrzenka excellent evaluations from her students and peers alike. Constant in her courses is her effort to intersperse various media into presentations (video clips, music), that includes student activities. It makes the materials "come alive" for the students, according to Yutrzenka.
"I prefer to link course content to life experiences and my teaching style changes with different courses I teach," she said. "I may do more lecturing in my undergraduate intro psychology classes, where I teach over 200 mostly freshman students, and do more interactive discussion with small graduate student seminars."
Increasing student's knowledge and understanding of the course content beyond simply the memorization of factual information, as well as the application of the content to their lives now and in their future careers, is most important to Yutrzenka. "I try to communicate my enthusiasm for the field of psychology � which I hope they leave the classroom having a bit of themselves."
Yutrzenka's genuine concern for her students, sense of humor and ability to effectively convey complex concepts echoes throughout the nomination letters written by her students.
"When it came time for me to get my thesis done, she went the extra mile to get me through the process," said Mia Hegarty-Roach, a fourth-year graduate student. "She stayed up nearly all night on more than one occasion to get revisions back to me in a timely fashion. Whenever she teaches a class, I scramble to find a way to fit it into my schedule. Her combination of compassion and hard work make her an invaluable part of this program."
"To have been nominated is an honor in and of itself; to be selected has been a career highlight, perhaps even on the magnitude of a peak experience," Yutrzenka said. "I was surprised, delighted, amazed, and humbled. The moments that have been most rewarding to me over the years have involved my interactions with students both in and outside of the classroom. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had to work with students over the years, perhaps learning as much from them and experience of teaching itself, as they might be learning from me."
Yutrzenka's work at USD has received national recognition. During her time here, the Clinical Psychology Training Program has earned the Exemplary Program Award for Training from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and the 1999 APA Graduate Student Psychology Department of the Year Award.
In addition to teaching psychology courses, Yutrzenka coordinates seminars, supervises undergraduate and graduate research, coordinates clinical training experiences and is an advisor for both graduate and undergraduate students. She was also recently awarded the Student Activities Advisor of the Year.