Dakota State University students walking around campus

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That's the DSU equation. We're a four-year university with nationally recognized programs, cutting-edge facilities, and the brightest thinkers. But we're also a tight-knit, inclusive community. Small class sizes mean hands-on training and individualized attention. All this with an affordable, public school price that's among the best values in the region.

Majors & Degrees

Awards announced at 2023 Honors Reception

May 9, 2023

Alexander “Sandy” Davidson Award for Excellence in Advising & Mentorship

Dr. Chris Olson, Associate Professor in The Beacom College of Computing & Cyber Sciences, was named the Alexander “Sandy” Davidson Award winner for Excellence in Advising & Mentorship.  

Dakota State’s Faculty award winners for the 2022-2023 academic year include: Dr. Mark Spanier (left), Dr. Kyle Cronin, and Dr. Omar El-Gayar. Dr. Chris Olson is not pictured.

Olson advises nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate students in eight different DSU programs. He is also the program coordinator for the Master of Science in Cyber Defense program. His experience in using assistive technology is essential to ensure syllabi and course documents are free of accessibility issues.

The award is sponsored by Davidson’s children, Scott and Jenny Weatherill and Brian and Barb Harmdierks. It remembers Davidson’s work as Dean of Students and Director of Counseling. He retired from Dakota State in 1985 but remained active on campus and in the community until he passed away in 2006.


Merrill Hunter Award for Excellence in Research

The Merrill Hunter Award for Excellence in Research was presented to Dr. Omar El-Gayar, a Professor in the College of Business & Information Systems. 

El-Gayar is an extensive researcher, often through collaborations and partnerships with external entities. He has contributed original research to peer-reviewed publications, securing research grants, chairing at professional conferences, serving on editorial boards, and reviewing for journals and conferences. However, he works to build the scholarly climate throughout DSU, through efforts with the Research Committee and with DSU student researchers.

The Hunter family sponsors the award to honor Merrill, long-time Madison newspaper publisher, veteran, and former president of the DSU Foundation. He was a serving as president of the DSU Foundation at the time of his death in 1990.


DeWayne Mork Award for Excellence in Service

Dr. Kyle Cronin was honored with the DeWayne Mork Award for Excellence in Service. He is Associate Professor in The Beacom College of Computer & Cyber Sciences.

Cronin serves Dakota State in many ways. Cronin coordinates the largest residential GenCyber camp in the nation, serves as administrator for the Cyber Scholarship Program (a scholarship-for-service program), and manages the IA lab on campus. The IA lab is a virtualized environment that is the backbone of the cybersecurity education at DSU.  In addition, he is respected as a mentor to doctoral students and other faculty members, and serves on numerous committees, often in leadership roles.  He is always willing to meet with prospective students, and visits high schools across the region, represents DSU at college fairs and on-campus events.

Mork was a long-time Madison businessman, philanthropist, and community leader. One honor he and his son DeLon were awarded included the South Dakota Retailer of the year award in 2004 for the family-run Dairy Queen.


Ernest Teagarden Award for Excellence in Teaching

The Ernest Teagarden Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Dr. Mark Spanier, Associate Professor in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences.  

Spanier has a reputation of caring deeply about his students, and works diligently to design relevant, engaging activities.  He uses inquiry-based projects and activities in his courses, which provide students with practical, relevant knowledge for their careers. His demeanor impacts the students with a positive energy that is contagious.

The award honors Teagarden, a professor emeritus of business at DSU.  Teagarden served as Chair of the Social Science and Business Education Division and later of the Division of Business, Industry and Public Administration; he passed away in 2007. This award is sponsored by the DSU Foundation.

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