May 14, 2019

Scholarship and service were celebrated at the University of Sioux Falls today at the annual Spirit of Excellence Awards Celebration. The event represents more than an awards ceremony for students and faculty. The event is a tangible way to honor students and faculty as they live out the values of academic excellence and service that have formed USF’s 135-year identity. 

“Our annual Spirit of Excellence program is indeed a celebration of our outstanding students and faculty, as well as a celebration of the academic excellence that has characterized the University of Sioux Falls throughout its 135-year history,” said Dr. Joy Lind, vice president for academic affairs at USF.

Top honorees were announced, and all nominees were recognized at today’s ceremony celebrating various areas of campus life from academics and leadership to athletics and service. 

This year’s top honorees include:

  • Representative Man: Xavier Scarlett, a senior from Sioux City, IA, who is majoring in Biology and Theology & Biblical Studies
  • Representative Woman: Elizabeth Enalls, a senior from Sioux Falls, SD, who is majoring in Music Ministry and Theology & Biblical Studies 
  • Thomas F. Johnson Distinguished Service Award: Paige Sandbulte, a senior from Sioux Center, IA, who is majoring in Psychology.
  • Outstanding Faculty Awards: Dr. Christina Hitchcock, professor of theology; Lorri A. Halverson, assistant professor of business administration
  • Part-time Faculty Honor Award: Jeff Ballard, part-time instructor of art, and USF gallery director; Carol Den Otter, part-time instructor of education
  • Nelson Women in Leadership Award: Emily Wieczorek, a senior from Mount Vernon, SD majoring in Biology Education
  • The Purple Feather Award, which recognizes the attributes of character, scholarship, leadership and service of juniors and seniors. These award recipients were previously announced, and are listed at the end of this release. 

The Representative Man and Woman awards are given to two individuals who exemplify the ideal USF student—an individual committed to the University and the purposes for which it was founded. Final selection is determined by the senior class, which chooses from those nominated. This is the highest honor given to a student by the entire campus community. 

Xavier Scarlett, Representative Man Recipient, has excelled as a student and athlete during his time at USF. Xavier has lead a career of service on campus in Admissions and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Next fall he will attend Truett Seminary at Baylor University. 

Elizabeth Enalls, the Representative Woman Recipient is an honors scholar, student body president, a member of the USF Concert Chorale, Singing Camerata, Madrigal Singers and the USF Chamber Orchestra. Elizabeth has sought to seamlessly integrate faith and music through her majors and extra-curricular activities. This spring she released an album entitled “Eternity in Mind” featuring original songs of praise and theological reflection. 

The Outstanding Faculty Awards announced today are given to two full-time faculty members and two part-time faculty members. The purpose of these awards is to recognize excellence in teaching and scholarly endeavors that contribute in a meaningful and positive manner to the academic community of the University. Students, faculty and staff are involved in the nomination process. 

Dr. Christina Hitchcock joined the USF faculty teaching courses in theology in 2001. She received her B.A. from Geneva College, M.A. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Ph.D. from University of Aberdeen. Hitchcock recently published a book entitled “The Significance of Singleness: A Theological Vision for the Future of the Church”, which was reviewed by one national organization as “one of the best theology books of 2018.” 

“Dr. Hitchcock has been both a source of academic and pastoral mentorship during my time at USF,” said a USF community member who nominated her. “I appreciate the way she challenges her students to think critically and responds in a constructive and nurturing way.”

Professor Lorri A. Halverson, has been teaching full time at USF since 2012. She received her B.A. at Concordia College and M.B.A. at the University of Sioux Falls. She teaches courses in business administration and economics. 

“Professor Halverson maintains high standards for academic achievement while investing in students in personal ways,” said a USF community member who was among many to anonymously nominate Halverson. “She stands out by taking students to conferences, helping them with original research and adapting course structure to student needs.” 

Jeff Ballard joined the art faculty part-time in 2014 to teach one section of design. Today, Ballard teaches advanced drawing, sculpture and the capstone course, senior thesis. In addition to teaching, Ballard keeps the two campus art galleries running smoothly with student artwork as well as artwork from important local and regional artists. Ballard received his B.A. from University of Sioux Falls and M.F.A. from University of South Dakota. 

“Jeff Ballard is a noted USF alumnus who has made his mark in the professional field both on and off campus,” said a USF community member who nominated Ballard. “He has volunteered to teach a number of courses and to fill in everywhere he is needed, going above and beyond all expectations. He is a dedicated employee and a true asset to the University.”

Carol Den Otter joined the USF faculty in 2004. Den Otter retired from USF in May 2018, then returned in 2019 to teach for just one year in a part-time capacity. Her degrees include B.S. from Augustana University, M.Ed. from South Dakota State University and Ed.D. from University of South Dakota.

Faculty and students describe Den Otter as one with a can-do attitude and passionate advocacy for math education, teacher development and quality educational experiences for students.

USF senior Emily Wieczorek is the recipient of this year’s Nelson Women in Leadership Award. In recognition of the role, USF played in their development, Sara and Mat Nelson established this award to give to an individual who demonstrates leadership, an integration of the Christian mission of the University and a heart for ministry and serving others. 

Emily has served in several leadership roles including as a resident assistant and student body vice president. Her commitment to faith-integrated leadership is evident in her passion for serving others in developing countries and fostering their own ability to educate, farm, and heal both physically and spiritually. Emily plans to travel once again to Uganda this summer as well as Kenya and Ethiopia to serve and show Christ’s love.

Also already announced, the tradition of the Purple Feather Award is a prestigious award with a long history at the institution, and is given to no more than 10% of the senior class and 5% of the junior class in any academic year. The award is determined by the Student Senate, based on recommendations from faculty and staff.

Purple Feather Award recipients include: Josiah Abraham, Micah Abraham, Molly Briney, Hannah Curry, Emily Easton, Rachael Eliason, Nakita Ewest, Trey Furgeson, Alex Gerlach, Reid Goeman, Rebekah Henderson, Joseph Hiatt, Morgan Holien, Jacey Huinker, Salvador Jaimes, Tyler Kopp, Emily Magera, Whitney Norberg, Nicolas Paulson, Mildred Piper, Lily Satterlee, Xavier Scarlett, Haley Seeba, Emma Snow, Nathanial Spawn, Jett Thune, Grace Trautman, Dayne Versteeg, Drew Veurink, Carla Walquist and Brennan Waltner.

The University of Sioux Falls reports that an outstanding 99 percent of graduates from the undergraduate Class of 2018 were either employed or attending graduate or professional school within six months of graduation.

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