The College of Fine Arts hosted its inaugural Celebration of Excellence event October 22-24, 2021, to honor these outstanding alumni, educators and friends. Learn more about the meaning behind the Hall of Fame and awards.


Janet Brown

Janet Brown received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre in 1973 and a Master of Public Administration in 2004 from USD. She began her career in arts management in the late 1970s as a fundraiser for the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. In the early 1980s, she moved to New York to work with Joseph Papp’s NY Shakespeare Festival as assistant to the general manager and assistant company manager for the national tour of “The Pirates of Penzance.” Her success in this position led to her being named company manager for a 21-city European tour of “Ain’t Misbehavin.” Between 1971 and 1985 she spent nine summers at the Black Hills Playhouse as an actress and business manager.

In 1984, Janet returned to South Dakota and was appointed executive director of South Dakotans for the Arts (SoDA), an organization which was transformed during her 14 years of leadership. While at SoDA, she directed Art Beyond Boundaries and in 2001, she founded and was director of the Prairie Arts Management Institute. Both are training programs for arts leaders in the Midwest region. In 2004, she became chairperson of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Augustana University. She served as president and chief executive officer of Grantmakers in the Arts, a national association of arts funders, from 2009-2017. Janet has been a consultant and advisor for numerous foundations and arts organizations, including the Bush Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her remarkable achievements have resulted in many accolades, including the Selena Ottum Award from Americans for the Arts, South Dakota Governor’s Honorary Award in the Arts, the University of South Dakota Alumni Leadership Award and the South Dakota Music Educators Association Outstanding Service to the Arts award.

I am honored to be inducted into the inaugural class of the USD College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame. Without the vision and tenacity of Dr. Warren M. Lee, founder and director of the Black Hills Playhouse (BHP), the guidance and passion of Dr. Wayne Knutson - who was Dean of the College when I was in school - and Dr. Ron Reed, chair of the theatre department and the director who cast me in “Hello Dolly” in 1969, my career path would have been very different. I found a home in the USD Theatre Department and immediately switched my major from psychology to theatre. Lifelong friends came out of my experiences at USD and the Black Hills Playhouse. There are way too many to mention, but Daamen Krall, Hap and Ellie Haberman, Jim and Sharon Haberman, Graham and Anna Marie Thatcher, and Gordy Pratt - father of my children Miranda Pratt Mikolaizik and Jason Pratt (both theatre kids) - are at the top of the list. From BHP to Broadway to the board room of the Ford Foundation, I have had a blessed life in the arts as an artist, teacher and advocate. I thank the artists who make our lives meaningful through their quest for truth and beauty. Thank you to Dr. Bruce Kelley and his USD faculty, staff and Hall of Fame Committee for this recognition. - Janet Brown

André P. Larson (posthumous)

André P. Larson (posthumous) earned two degrees from USD: a Bachelor of Fine Arts in music education in 1964 and a Master of Music degree in music literature with a minor in theatre in 1968. He received his Ph.D. in musicology from West Virginia University in 1974. André was hired in 1972 to be the first director of The Shrine to Music Museum (later named the National Music Museum) in Vermillion, South Dakota. He conceptualized, articulated and implemented plans for the development of the museum, focusing on the development of the museum’s collections. André placed his father Arne’s more than 3,000 instruments at the National Music Museum’s core, and then boldly built upon those holdings. Under his leadership, the National Music Museum developed into a world-class museum. It is now one of the world’s largest and most important collections of musical instruments, preserving many of the crown jewels of music history. Among André’s favorites--acquired under his leadership and donor inspiration--are the famed 16th-century “King” cello by Andrea Amati, the “Harrison” Stradivari violin, Johnny Cash’s “Bon Aqua” guitar and the D’Angelico/D’Aquisto/Gudelsky guitar-workshop collection.

André was a professor of music at USD, and he established the Center for Study of the History of Musical Instruments at the university, offering the nation’s only graduate degree in the history of musical instruments. He served as the president of the American Musical Instrument Society (AMIS) for three terms between 1981-1987. He was the recipient of the Curt Sachs Award in 1990, the highest honor his peers could bestow, “in recognition of his connoisseurship, skill, and perseverance in creating a major international resource in South Dakota for the study, exhibition, and conservation of historical musical instruments.” He was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2006.

Ruth Lingen

Ruth Lingen received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art from USD in 1980 and a Master of Fine Arts in 1984 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Ruth is the only undergraduate from USD who has gone on to become a Master Printer in New York City. As a shop worker for the legendary New York printmaker Joe Wilfer and Midwest bookmaster Walter Hamady, Ruth learned both her trade and the pleasure of collaborating with living artists. She worked in the printmaking and papermaking studios of Pace Prints for 27 years. As the founding director of Pace Paper, she continued her pioneering use of handmade paper as a printmaking medium. Ruth is also the founder and owner of Line Press Limited in Brooklyn, New York, a collaborative fine art print studio specializing in artist books and hand-printed limited edition prints.

Ruth has collaborated on prints and limited-edition artist books with over 80 celebrated artists and writers. Her work can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Getty, the Brooklyn Museum and The Walker Museum, as well as over 35 libraries, including the New York Public Library and the Harvard University Library. She is an active arts speaker, juror and visiting lecturer. She was most recently at Wellesley College, Princeton University, The Cooper Union, University of Iowa, the Chazen Museum and William Patterson University. Ruth has received the Dieu Donné Lifetime Achievement Award in Papermaking, as well as lifetime book arts honors from The Center for Book Arts in NYC. She has twice received the “50 Best Books/Covers Award” from the American Institute of Graphic Arts.


Wayne S. Knutson (posthumous)

Wayne S. Knutson (posthumous) earned a Bachelor of Arts from Augustana College in 1950, a Master of Arts from USD in 1951 and a Ph.D. from the University of Denver in 1956. All degrees were in the combined fields of English and Theatre. Wayne returned to USD in 1956 and was appointed director of the University Theatre. In 1970, he was selected to be on the South Dakota Arts Council under the National Endowment for the Arts and served for several years as the chair. One year after his service to the Arts Council, he was selected to be a member of the South Dakota Humanities Council under the National Endowment for the Humanities. He served for two years as its chair and was thus the first person to have served both councils as chair. Wayne became dean of the College of Fine Arts in 1972 during final preparations to occupy the new Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts. After his service of nine years as dean, he was asked to become the vice president for academic affairs. During his last year of teaching at USD (1986-87), he was appointed the University Distinguished Professor by the South Dakota Board of Regents; his was the first such appointment by the regents. Wayne was an ardent supporter of America’s Shrine to Music Museum (now the National Music Museum) and for twenty-five years helped ensure its survival.

During Wayne’s years of teaching, he lectured extensively around the country, adjudicated more than 500 plays, and judged more than 10,000 high school students in theatre and oral interpretation. In 1990, former students and colleagues initiated The Wayne S. Knutson Endowment to honor his 35 years of service to the university and the state of South Dakota. He asked that his wife's name be added to the name of the endowment for her support throughout his career. Income from the endowment has steadily increased, and, over the years, more than 100 scholarships have been awarded in their name. In addition, the College of Fine Art’s most distinguished recognition for faculty, the Wayne S. and Esther M. Knutson Distinguished Professor Award, is funded through this endowment. Wayne received many honors, including the Distinguished Service Award from the South Dakota Speech Association, the South Dakota Governor’s Award for Creative Achievement in the Arts, the Burlington-Northern Faculty Achievement Award, the Outstanding Achievement in the Humanities from the South Dakota Humanities Council Award, election into the South Dakota Hall of Fame, and many more. His biography first appeared in the 40th edition of “Who’s Who in America.” The main stage theatre at USD was renamed the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre in his honor in 1999. (Accepting on behalf of Wayne, son Jon Knutson)

Wilber Moore Stilwell (posthumous)

Wilber Moore Stilwell (posthumous) studied at the Kansas City Art Institute for four years, earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from the Kansas State Teachers College and a Master of Fine Arts in Art from the University of Iowa. Wilber established the Emporia School of Art, was employed by the New Deal’s Public Works of Art Project and the Kansas City Art Institute and was hired in 1941 as the chair of the Department of Art at USD. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1973. During the 32 years he served at USD, he was a devoted educator in the art department and provided summer classes in Prentis Park and extension classes in the area. He established the USD Summer High School Art Camp, was active in professional organizations and gave hours of counseling from his home. Wilber was a talented artist who won numerous prizes and commissions. From 1933 to 1940 he was awarded over 50 premiums, first, second and third place prizes in Fine and Commercial Arts professional exhibitions.

Wilber and his wife Gladys published multiple articles in the School Arts Magazine and the SDEA Journal. He served as South Dakota director, regional director and deputy national director of American Art Week, and he won numerous awards in national competitions for his work in this area. In 1966, in a ceremony at the White House, Lady Bird Johnson awarded Wilber the National Gallery of Art Medal for Distinguished Service to Education. That same year, the American Artists Professional League awarded Wilber the prestigious Gold Medal for Distinguished Service to American Art. In 1987, the Stilwell Student Juried Exhibition (often referred to simply as “the Stilwell") was created to honor Wilber’s contributions to the USD art department and his former students, many of whom have become successful artists and art educators. In 2013, USD published “Wilber Moore Stilwell” by Lea Rosson DeLong.

The family of Wilber Moore Stilwell accepts this great honor from the University of South Dakota’s Fine Arts Department with sincere gratitude for the acknowledgement of our father’s dedication and success. Wilber was an artist through and through, who lived and breathed art, taking joy in thinking about art theory, in creating art, and in inventing new techniques with his wife, Gladys Ferree Stilwell. He was also very dedicated to his students at USD and worked hard to provide them with an excellent education that would prepare them to meet their goals as artists. He would have been very humbled and touched by this honor. Thank you to everyone involved in the selection process, especially Dean Bruce Kelley, Corey Knedler, and the exemplary staff at USD. - The Family of Wilber Moore Stilwell at the 2021 Celebration of Excellence

Frank J. Aiello

Frank J. Aiello earned his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music from Drake University and his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Oklahoma. His teachers included Andrew White, Life Chair Cincinnati Conservatory; Leila Edwards, Coach Metropolitan Opera; Hermanus Baer, Chairman Northwestern University; Norman Tattersall, fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, England; and Margaret Swain, coach-accompanist for Dame Eva Turner, Royal Academy, London. He performed extensively in the Midwest and elsewhere, including a Kennedy Center performance representing South Dakota in 1976. In addition to performing, Frank has been very active as an adjudicator, both regionally and nationally, and he served on the Music Teacher’s National Association board for vocal literature and contest requirements.

Frank came to USD in 1968 and taught studio voice at USD for 33 years. During that time, he twice served as chair for the Department of Music. He guided students in the development of impeccable vocal technique and brought many students to a level that enabled them to pursue professional singing after graduation. His voice students have won Music Teacher’s National Association contests, National Federation of Music Clubs contests and Metropolitan Opera auditions at the state, regional and national levels. Several former students have performed professionally in opera and music theatre, in the United States and abroad, and others are teaching at colleges and public schools. He received USD’s highest teaching award, the Belbas-Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching, in 1994. Most recently, he taught at the 2019 Brancaleoni Music Festival in Piobbico, Italy. He can be credited with establishing the excellence of the USD vocal program, which continues to this day.

I would like to express my deep appreciation for my inclusion into the 2021 USD College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame. If I could do it all again, I would change nothing. My teaching, judging, and performing activities accorded me the opportunity to meet wonderful people. It has been a great career, and my thanks to Dean Kelley and his staff for this event; also to the many friends and former students I have heard from. I am honored. - Frank J. Aiello, DMA, Professor Emeritus


Evelyn Schlenker

Evelyn Schlenker, along with her husband George, have been devoted supporters of and advocates for the fine arts throughout the region. They have attended Department of Theatre and other College of Fine Arts events with awe-inspiring regularity for more than 35 years. Evelyn has chronicled the history of the arts in the community and has written two books about stained glass windows in Clay County and one about architecture in Vermillion. Prior to her retirement five years ago, Evelyn served as a professor in Basic Biomedical Sciences in the USD Sanford School of Medicine and has a breadth and depth of knowledge that is hinted at when examining an exhaustive list of her publications, which range from the “A History of the Two Carnegie Libraries in Vermillion, South Dakota,” published by the Clay County History Preservation Commission, to “The dystrophic hamster: an animal model of alveolar hypoventilation,” published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Evelyn’s service to the theatre department is particularly noteworthy. Evelyn has impacted theatre students and the department through her generosity and volunteer efforts with First Nighters, an organization that hosts a dinner and social time on opening night of each production. She has assisted the department when special needs arise, whether to help attain matching funds for a grant or to find additional financial support for a student with high needs. Evelyn’s commitment to theatre within the broader community can also be found in her service to the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival as an active member of its board of directors. Evelyn also served as secretary and member of the board of directors for the Vermillion Community Theatre where she appeared on stage and helped behind the scenes with costumes and sets. Evelyn also served as the president of the Vermillion Area Arts Council and volunteered at the National Music Museum. Currently she is secretary for the Friends of the W.H. Over Museum Board and secretary of the Clay County Historic Preservation Commission.

I am deeply honored to be a 2021 Fine Arts Hall of Fame Outstanding Friend recipient. The arts have always been an integral part of my life. Helping foster the arts within the University of South Dakota and the wider community is so important for the growth and well-being of students of all ages and arts patrons. I will continue to support the arts and encourage others to do so whether it is through donations of money or as participants in front or behind the scenes. - Evelyn Schlenker

Doug and Sue Tuve

Doug and Sue Tuve are passionate supporters of the fine arts at USD. Susan Tuve attended USD from 1965-67. Although she finished her degree at the University of Minnesota, the Vermillion native’s loyalty remained rooted to the community and her Coyote years. Following graduation she worked in trust and investment banking, a career that spanned 35 years. However, even from afar Susan volunteered much of her time to the university. She aided in initiating the Twin Cities alumni lunch club and served on the USD Foundation board of directors. She served as chair from 2002-2003. In 2005, she and Doug moved to Vermillion when she accepted the position of director of planned giving at the foundation. She has also served and is serving on the boards of several community organizations, including the Vermillion Public Schools Foundation, the Dakota Hospital Foundation, the Vermillion Cultural Association and the Vermillion Community Foundation.

Doug retired as owner of Convergence Media Services video engineering . He received degrees from California Lutheran University, Luther Seminary and the University of Minnesota. Since moving to Vermillion he has been involved with Rotary, serving as treasurer, and in 2017 was named Rotarian of the Year. He is also a member of the Vermillion Planning and Zoning Commission, a Mason, a USD Foundation trustee and is currently a deacon at the Vermillion United Church of Christ. For many years he has sung with the Men’s and Women’s Chorus at USD and also with the choir at church.

Together the Tuves have supported the college in a variety of ways. In 2013, they established the Douglas and Susan Distinguished Professorship in Choral Music. They provided funding for the floor in the art gallery, and funded a scholarship endowment for theatre. They enjoy providing a home to South Dakota Shakespeare Festival actors during the month of rehearsals. They also help support the Choral Music Support Endowment and the Opera Guild. A highlight of every year is traveling with the USD Chamber Singers on their annual tour. They are deeply committed to supporting the arts at the university and in the community and hope they have inspired others to support the arts.

Tom Schaack

Tom Schaack graduated from Northern State University in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He served as Community Bank president for First Bank & Trust in Vermillion for nearly 25 years. He has been a supporter of the Vermillion Cultural Association, the Vermillion Lion’s Club and the Vermillion Area Community Foundation. He has served on the boards of the Dakota Hospital Foundation and the Vermillion Transit Authority and is a member of Concordia Lutheran Church. Tom was instrumental in establishing the first-ever economic development fundraising effort in Vermillion.

In 2008, Tom facilitated a significant commitment of financial support to the College of Fine Arts from First Bank & Trust through the Fishback Financial Corporation Community Fund. First Bank & Trust’s initial gift included $30,000 annually to the College of Fine Arts for a period of five years. The donation also included $10,000 per year as a challenge grant which, if matched, could be used for technology and equipment acquisitions. After the initial five-year commitment, no other corporate sponsors stepped in. Through Tom’s assistance, First Bank & Trust extended their support for another three years. Over the eight-year period of time, First Bank & Trust’s gift had a total value of $260,000 which was shared equally by the Departments of Art, Music and Theatre. Tom’s leadership provided funding for scholarships, guest artists, special events, technology and equipment. First Bank & Trust’s gift was truly transformative in its impact on each department, and it demonstrated Tom’s deep appreciation for arts education and the value of arts in our community.

Special Recognition Award

Oscar Howe (posthumous)

Oscar Howe (posthumous): Yanktonai Dakota, named Mazuha Hokshina by his people, was born on May 13, 1915 at Joe Creek on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in central South Dakota. He completed grade school at the Pierre Indian School and entered the Santa Fe Indian School in 1935 to work in the art program established by Dorothy Dunn, graduating as salutatorian in 1938. Between 1940 and 1942, Howe worked as an artist with the South Dakota Works Progress Administration completing mural projects in Mitchell and Mobridge, South Dakota. Following three years of service in the U.S. Army in the European Theatre, Howe entered Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1952. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1954. Howe taught at Pierre High School until 1957 when he became artist-in-residence and professor of art at USD where he served until retiring in 1980 as Emeritus Professor of Art.

Howe was on the cutting edge of his generation in the exploration of ways to break out of the stereotypes imposed on Native artists and to seek contemporary ways of communicating Native American values and ideas. Over a 40-year career, Howe earned many honors and awards, including numerous grand and first prizes in national competitions. In 1954, Howe was named Artist Laureate of the Middle Border and in 1960, Artist Laureate of South Dakota. In 1966, he was awarded the Waite Phillips trophy for outstanding contributions to American Indian art from the Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Howe was the first recipient of the South Dakota Governor’s Award for Creative Achievement in 1973. He received the Golden Bear Award from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, in 1979. An exhibition honoring Oscar Howe will open on March 12, 2022 at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian in New York City. The exhibit will be there six months before traveling to the Portland, Oregon Art Museum. A scholarly/catalogue book about Oscar Howe’s Art is being published by the Smithsonian to accompany this exhibit. Howe’s accomplishments are documented and honored at USD through the Oscar Howe Memorial Association, the Oscar Howe Lecture, the Oscar Howe Archives, the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute and the Oscar Howe Art Gallery.

My father truly would have been pleased by this recognition of his contribution to the University of South Dakota Fine Arts Department. Oscar loved the opportunity to teach, to mentor and thus broaden the horizons of the many students that he met during his tenure here and he always strived to spread true appreciation of the arts and the cultures that generated them. - Inge Dawn (Howe) Maresh, Oscar Howe's only daughter, with regret that she was unable to travel to accept the award on her father's behalf