USD’s Wilson, Bucklin named recipients of Belbas-Larson awards

USD's Wilson, Bucklin named recipients of Belbas-Larson awards University of South Dakota Professors Steven Bucklin and Norma Wilson were awarded the 2001 Belbas-Larson Excellence in Teaching Awards and honored during last spring's commencement.

Bucklin, a professor of history, has taught at USD since 1996. He received the Belbas-Larson Award for a non-tenured faculty member. Wilson, a professor in the English department, came to USD in 1978. She received the 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 Acting President 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 honor those faculty members who are doing stellar work in their teaching. And, certainly, Norma Wilson and Steven Bucklin are most worthy recipients of this award."

Wilson was born and raised in Clarksville, TN. She joined the English faculty at USD in 1978 after completing a Ph.D. in English at the University of Oklahoma. Her dissertation, "The Spirit of Place in Contemporary American Indian Poetry," was the foundation for her academic research. Wilson has published numerous articles on Native literature which are included in encyclopedias and anthologies as well as journals devoted to American, American Indian and world authors.

A member of the South Dakota Humanities Council for nine years, Wilson served as chair from 1997-99. In 1999, Wilson attended an institute on indigenous cultures of the Pacific funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Currently Secretary of the Council of Higher Education, she has been a member since 1978 and served as president in 2000-2001.

Her book The Nature of Native American Poetry was published by the University of New Mexico Press in 2001. Wilson is

currently writing an essay on Native poetry for Cambridge University Press.

"It is wonderful to know that I have been a source of enlightenment for my students from whom I continue to learn," Wilson said.

Bucklin holds a B.A. and M.A. from The University of South Dakota and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He returned to USD in 1996 after teaching in Iowa at Grinnell College, Cornell College and the University of Iowa. Bucklin teaches courses in 19th- and 20th-century U.S. history at USD and has research interests in international relations and South Dakota history. Bucklin has also been the state coordinator of South Dakota History Day since 1996.

Student Ross Wright was Bucklin's nominator. "Challenging, inspirational, encouraging and helpful are all words that I have heard and used to describe Dr. Steven Bucklin's teaching style," Wright said. "Dr. Bucklin always made time for my questions after class, and he explained to me how successful students had prepared in the past and what I should concentrate on studying for the next exam. He has always made things seem within reach, which in turn has caused me to work just a little harder at times than I might have if I had not had that encouragement.

"I think this trait is the mark of a good teacher, and it's what caused me to develop a serious interest in history and to enroll in the USD School of Education to pursue a career in teaching history," he said.

"The fact that one of my students � Ross Wright � initiated the process for me to receive this award was great and it was uplifting to know that my peers chose me after reviewing the nominations," Bucklin said. "It was also humbling to receive such an award from my alma mater in that I know so many of the other nominees and past recipients to be wonderful teachers."

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