The University of Sioux Falls will celebrate the achievements of alumni and supporters Friday, September 29 at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown with an Alumni Achievement Awards Celebration and Dinner during Cougar Days.

Alumni Achievement Awards recognize outstanding graduates who have made exceptional contributions to their fields of endeavor, their communities and their churches. Innovation, leadership, scholarly research, teaching and healing are just a few areas for which alumni are being honored. The following awards will be given to the six recipients below:

• Alumni Pacesetter Award: Daniel Terveen, ’11, Samantha Slaubaugh ’14, Trevor Holleman ‘10
  • Dr. Daniel Terveen is a highly accomplished eye surgeon, specializing in refractive cataract surgery, advanced corneal disease treatments, glaucoma care and laser vision correction. He is known for his commitment to excellence and approaches every patient interaction with the utmost dedication and compassion. Dr. Terveen graduated from the University of Sioux Falls in 2011 where he majored in biology and chemistry. While there, he played tennis and served as student body president. He then completed medical school at the University of South Dakota, where he graduated at the top of his class, earning the Dean’s Academic Achievement Award. As a medical student, he played a pivotal role in expanding the Children’s Vision Screening Initiative in Rapid City and contributed to the Coyote Free Medical Clinic, providing essential healthcare to the underserved. It was during his residency at the University of Iowa that he received the Lisa and Amir Arbisser Resident Award for his outstanding contributions and made significant enhancements to the quality of eye surgery at the Iowa City Veterans Administration Hospital. Subsequently, he completed a prestigious fellowship in cornea and external disease with acclaimed experts Dr. Vance Thompson and Dr. John Berdahl. Dr. Terveen’s impressive academic and professional career includes extensive contributions and publications in peer-reviewed literature. His expertise has earned him roles with esteemed organizations such as the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Governmental Affairs Committee and the American Academy of Ophthalmology Council, as well as the Young Ophthalmologist Committee. He has also played pivotal roles as founder and CEO of Interfeen Biologics, which was later acquired by Glaukos, and as a board member for Balance Ophthalmics and True North Contract Research. Additionally, he has been deeply involved in numerous eyecare mission trips within the United States and abroad. Dr. Terveen is a leading figure in his field and a passionate advocate for improvements in healthcare for all patients. He and his wife Marnie, an OB/GYN at Avera, live in Sioux Falls with their three daughters.
  • Samantha (Koch) Slaubaugh is an esteemed theologian and scholar whose academic journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. In 2014, she graduated from USF with a Bachelor of Arts in theology and English and went on to attend Princeton Theological Seminary where she earned a Master of Divinity degree. From there, she attended the University of Notre Dame where she completed her Doctorate in Theology with a specialization in liturgical studies, a subdiscipline that researches the past and current tradition of worship in the Christian tradition. Her primary area of research is on medieval communities of women, their worship and their experiences of union with God. Slaubaugh has presented her work at numerous conferences, including the International Congress of Medieval Studies, the North American Academy of Liturgy and the Medieval Academy of America. Her insights have also been shared through publications in journals like Viator and Religions, with forthcoming publications in Liturgy (the Journal of the Liturgical Conference) and Brill. As an educator, Slaubaugh has also taught both undergraduate and graduate students in theology at the University of Notre Dame and St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary and will teach courses on similar topics at the Yale Divinity School. Her dedication to teaching and mentoring led to her receiving the Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award for her work with first-year students. Currently, Slaubaugh holds a prestigious fellowship at the Yale University Institute of Sacred Music where she works on publishing her book exploring the liturgical formation of medieval women, examining how stories of God’s nearness shaped their worship practices and emotional experiences. Beyond academic pursuits, Slaubaugh has been involved in parish educational ministries for both children and adults. She is married to Steven Slaubaugh, also a USF alumnus, and together they have two daughters, Eliza and Rey.
  • Trevor Holleman grew up in the small town of New Holland, roughly 100 miles west of Sioux Falls, where much of his family still resides. He attended Dakota Christian High School, where he excelled in not one, but four, different sports. This exceptional drive for success accompanied him to USF where he was a biology major and part of three national champion football teams. Holleman also earned All-American honors three times and was named GPAC Defensive Player of the Year his senior year. In recognition of his outstanding athletic achievements, he was inducted into the USF Athletic Hall of Fame in 2020. After graduating in 2010, Holleman attended the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry where he graduated summa cum laude. His exceptional performance caught the attention of the Oral and Maxillofacial Residency Program at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he further honed his skills and expertise, completing the program in 2018. Upon his return to Sioux Falls, Holleman began working as an oral and facial surgeon at River Ridge Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Center. He is now an owner of the practice and dedicates his expertise to serving the people of Sioux Falls and the surrounding area with the best care possible. His commitment to providing the highest level of care while demonstrating genuine compassion has led him to perform surgery at Avera Hospital and Sanford Hospital as well. Board certified and a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Holleman’s professional journey has led to remarkable achievements and affiliations. He is a member of the South Dakota Dental Association, American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the Southeastern District Dental Association. Holleman and his wife, Beth, have four children, sons Landry, Lawson, Layton and daughter Adley. 
• Lois Harchanko Distinguished Music Award: Shirley Bertsch ‘67
  • Shirley (Sandau) Bertsch grew up in rural La Crescent, MN. She graduated from Sioux Falls College in 1967 and then taught music in the Sioux Falls School District and at the USF Prep School for over 30 years. As an educator, Bertsch had the innate ability to cultivate the love of music in her students, inspiring even the youngest elementary students to embrace their singing voices and explore musical instruments. Her approach ensured that every child had the opportunity to discover their musical potential. Beyond the classroom, Bertsch is a gifted musician. She is an accomplished vocal soloist, a talented organist, a skilled oboe player and a prolific composer and arranger. She has participated in USF’s Community Orchestra and many community choirs, such as the Seminary Choir’s Messiah and USF’s Music Department Centennial Celebration, as well as various vocal ensembles. Bertsch also directed Trinity Baptist Church children’s and adult choirs for more than 30 years, where she continues to serve using her talents as an organist and as the traditional worship service planner. She will often compose music to emphasize sermon themes, creating a spiritual connection through her music. At Trail Ridge Senior Living Community, she sings in the choir, contributes to worship at Chapel services and Christmas and Easter programs, and performs oboe recitals of her own compositions and arrangements, often to a full house. For her friends and family, she creates meaningful handmade birthday cards, gifts kuchen and rosettes at Christmas, and composes an original song that is included with each annual Christmas letter. She has also composed an original song for each of her five grandchildren. Her ambition and dedication to serve the Lord and her community through music continue to make a profound impact and a lasting impression on those around her. Bertsch, along with her late husband Les, a proud USF graduate, have three daughters and five grandchildren.
• Dr. Firman A. Early Distinguished Ministry Award: Kory Kleinsasser ‘93
  • Born in Huron, SD, Kory Kleinsasser was raised by parents who were active in the Wesleyan church, which deeply influenced his life. It was during his time at Sioux Falls College from 1989 to 1993 that he met his wife, Ann. They were married shortly after graduation and a month later headed to Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky where he earned his Master of Divinity degree. Kleinsasser’s calling led them to Cedar Rapids IA where he served as an assistant pastor for 13 years – first as a youth pastor, then worship and eventually discipleship. Kleinsasser was ordained in the Wesleyan Church in 1997 and served as the assistant district superintendent for the Iowa/Minnesota district of the American Wesleyan Church for five years. In 2010, his family moved to northeast Minneapolis where he assumed leadership of Waite Park Church. The transition offered diverse experiences, deepening his understanding of how God draws people to himself. Beyond church walls, Kleinsasser has actively pursued reconciliation with God and harmony among neighbors, collaborating with other pastors and leaders to make a positive impact in the neighborhoods they serve. Waite Park Church is now on the path to opening an immigrant connection site, providing vital low-cost immigration law services to underserved communities in the Twin Cities. Currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry in Transformational Leadership from Wesley Seminary, Kleinsasser’s commitment to personal growth and continuous pursuit of knowledge reflects his genuine desire to better himself and serve others wholeheartedly. In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, Kleinsasser and his wife take immense pride in their family which includes their eldest daughter Emma, her husband Angel and their children Ana and Mateo; daughter Ellie and her husband Cade, who are both USF graduates; and youngest son Duncan.
• Dr. A. O. Larsen Distinguished Alumni Award: Jim Nelson ‘00
  • Jim Nelson is a visionary leader in aerospace and defense. Growing up on a South Dakota farm near Irene, he learned the value of hard work. At USF, he played football while pursuing mathematics and computer science, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree. He also met his wife, Angela, while they were students at USF, marrying in 1999. Nelson then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a Master of Engineering degree in civil and environmental engineering. Over the course of 15 years, he made a significant impact working for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science Center in Sioux Falls. Through various roles Nelson provided leadership for the development and success of Landsat missions, impacting human and biodiversity health, energy and water management, urban planning, disaster recovery and agriculture monitoring, all resulting in incalculable benefits to the U.S. and world economy. In 2018, he joined Raven Industries as the aerostar director of engineering and was promoted to aerostar president and division manager just 3 years later. In addition to his strong technical leadership, Nelson demonstrates exceptional interpersonal skills, forging relationships with collaborators in a highly complex matrix of roles and responsibilities at various levels within NASA, USGS and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). In 2022, Aerostar was divested from Raven and sold to TCOM Holdings, establishing it as a standalone entity headquartered in Sioux Falls, where Nelson continues to serve as its president. Under his leadership, Aerostar flourishes as a world leader in aerospace and defense, providing high altitude balloons, radar solutions and protective wear to NASA, DOD and commercial customers worldwide. He also serves on the Washington Pavilion Programming Advisory Board, supporting STEAM industries and fostering community growth through programs like Discover Aviation Day, Aerostar Balloon Day and the Sweetman Planetarium. Nelson and his wife, Angela, have three children Maddy, Max and Clare.

Additionally, the University of Sioux Falls will award the Perisho Award to two deserving couples who have distinguished themselves in altruistic Christian leadership and service.

Perisho Award: Ann & John Collier and Karen (Smit) '67 & Robert L. Veninga
  • Ann and John Collier were both born in 1941 in small Iowa towns: Spirit Lake and Osceola. After their families moved to Des Moines, they met each other at Roosevelt High School. After John graduated from Iowa State and Ann from Monmouth College in Illinois, they were married in Des Moines in 1963. The day after the wedding they joined the Peace Corps and from 1963 to 1965 they both taught in a rural secondary school in Sierra Leone. Ann completed a M.A. in Math Education at the University of Maryland and taught high school in the District of Columbia and Maryland prior to becoming an assistant professor at Northern Virginia Community College. John earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies in Washington D.C. He was then hired by the U.S. State Department to direct area studies training programs on Africa at the Foreign Service Institute. He eventually became the Associate Dean of the School of Professional and Area Studies, a position comparable to a university provost. John and Ann retired in 1996 in order to spend more time on social justice issues and Christian activities. They moved to Mukilteo, Washington, in 1999 to be closer to their children and siblings. On their way west, they were invited to stop and visit the University of Sioux Falls. Neither of them had ever seen USF, but they were both well aware of how highly it was regarded by John’s stepfather and mother, Raymond Baker and Mary Collier Baker. Their first impressions were also very positive, and John accepted the offer to follow in his mother’s footsteps by becoming a trustee in 2000. John has continued his service as a trustee and in leadership roles for the past two decades. He and Ann have supported USF financially and have thoroughly enjoyed their numerous visits to the university. They look forward to continuing to be a part of the increasing success of USF. Ann and John wish they lived closer to Sioux Falls and could do more, but are now too deeply integrated into life in Mukilteo with two nearby grown children, one grandchild, three siblings, numerous social and church activities, jaw-dropping scenery, great weather, and even progress with their rescue cat, Chompy McBarfer!
  • Karen and Bob Veninga’s involvement with the University of Sioux Falls began as students. Karen received her Bachelor of Science degree from Sioux Falls College in 1967 while simultaneously graduating from Mounds Midway School of Nursing and becoming a registered nurse. She then earned a Master in Public Health degreefrom the University of Minnesota in 1976. Bob majored in psychology and was very active in the University’s debate program while a student from 1959-1962. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1963 and a Bachelor of Divinity degree from the North American Baptist Seminary in 1966. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Speech-Communication from the University of Minnesota focusing on organizational and cross-cultural communication. After their days at USF, Karen served as a coronary care nurse and then taught in nursing departments at various colleges including St. Olaf College. She then served as Director of Human Resources for the Minnesota State Senate before retiring. Karen has also published several articles in various medical and nursing journals. Bob is Professor Emeritus in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota and has published four books and over 100 articles in professional and scientific literature. Bob’s research has been featured in national publications and his clients include some of the largest corporations in America. Seven of his speeches have been featured in the prestigious publication Vital Speeches of the Day. Their contributions to the University of Sioux Falls have been many. Bob served as Chair of the USF Board of Trustees and chaired the presidential search committee resulting in the appointment of Dr. Brett Bradfield. Both have supported the theatre department resulting in the creation of the “Bob and Karen Veninga Excellence in Theatre Arts” award given each May to a senior theatre student. They also have an endowed scholarship in their name. Bob and Karen received the A.O. Larsen Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000. They live in St. Paul, Minnesota where they are active in their Lutheran Church. Bob and Karen have one son, Brent, a daughter-in-law, Joellyn and two grandchildren, Christian Michael and Alexander James.

Alumni, friends of the university, community leaders and the general public are invited to enjoy an evening dedicated to celebrating the excellence and impact that USF alumni and supporters are making in the Sioux Falls community and beyond.

The celebration will begin with a social hour at 6 p.m. followed by a dinner and program at 6:30 p.m. Registration is $35 and can be completed at under the buttons on the right.

The Alumni Achievement Awards Celebration and Dinner is one of many events happening during USF’s Cougar Days. More on Cougar Days at

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