The finest at USD’s College of Fine Arts


VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) – For the first time in 90 years, the College of Fine Arts at the University of South Dakota will be honoring its past educators, alumni and donors who have helped to make the school what it is today.

Walking through the hallways of the College of Fine Arts at USD, you can find students rehearsing in the theater department, creating masterpieces in the art department and making tunes in the music department.

For 90 years, students, educators and friends of the College of Fine Arts have contributed to the creativity that excels here each year. And now, the college is honoring them with a hall of fame.

“The College of Fine Arts was founded in 1931, in the heart of the Great Depression,” Bruce Kelley, Dean of the College of Fine Arts said. “And so, at the University of South Dakota, the fine arts have long represented the power and the inspiration and the hope for the arts to change the world. And after 90 years of amazing success, we decided we need to start saying ‘thank you.”

Inductees to the College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame will fall under three categories: Outstanding Alumnus, Outstanding Educator and Outstanding Friend. The inaugural Hall of Fame has three inductees for each category.

Click here to read about each of the inductees.

“Greatly honored and humbled. When I look at the other individuals who’ve been recognized, you know, it’s amazing,” Evelyn Schlenker, Hall of Fame inductee said.

“Well, it’s humbling and it was surprising. I didn’t expect it,” Sue Tuve, Hall of Fame inductee said.

“Yeah, kind of feel, ‘why us,’ you know. There are a lot of very deserving people around here,” Doug Tuve, Hall of Fame Inductee said.

Eveleyn Schlenker and Sue and Doug Tuve are all friends of the College of Fine Arts and live in Vermillion. They are being honored because of the time and money they’ve donated to help the school succeed.

“Fine arts adds so much to life. It explores people in a way that’s different and really does explore them. I mean, I would say, next to literature, fine arts does an excellent job,” Schlenker said.

“Art, be it music, theater or art, you know, whether it’s painting or creating something, makes all of our lives richer. And it always grieves me when it seems that art and the artistic sides of our lives are the first things that get cut when there are budget cuts because art makes our lives really special,” Sue Tuve said.

The college’s highest honor, the Special Recognition Award, will go to Oscar Howe, an influential artist and educator to the College of Fine Arts.

“A significant part of his legacy are the students that have followed,” Kelley said. “His students that he taught and then the students that they have taught. And we have an unbroken legacy of students from Oscar Howe all the way down to important alumni like Keith Braveheart Inkpa Mani.”

Dean Bruce Kelley hopes the College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame can inspire current students who will walk past this wall each day.

“I want them to see the exceptional work that the folks that have come before them have done,” Kelley said. “I want them to feel inspired. I also want them to feel challenged. A lot of these folks have given, they’ve given to USD, they’ve given to their regional art communities, they’ve given to the world of the arts in general. And I want our students to be empowered to do that.”

This weekend the school will host a ceremony to celebrate the inductees. The event will also serve as a grand reopening for some spaces of the College of Fine Arts.

“We have newly renovated spaces in Colton Hall and in Knutson Theatre and we have a brand-new sculpture yard out back that allows us to do large scale metal pours and a better space for wood sculpture and stone sculpture,” Kelley said.

Updated spaces to inspire future inductees to the hall of fame and keep the fine arts alive.

“The University of South Dakota College of Fine Arts exists to make a difference in people’s lives,” Kelley said. “That’s the most important thing. That’s what we do. We’re here to make a difference. And I think in the past eight months we’ve seen how much difference that the fine arts can bring to society.”

The College of Fine Arts Celebration of Excellence will be a three-day event this weekend.

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