Dakota Wesleyan University has announced the annual Clarke Awards for Excellence. Kyle Herges, professor of Digital Media and Design, was awarded the Clarke Award for Teaching Excellence. Custodian Sandy Byrd received the Clarke Award for Staff Excellence.
The Clarke Award, first instituted in the 1996-97 year, was endowed by John and the late Vicki Clarke as an award to be given annually to a Dakota Wesleyan University faculty member for excellence in teaching, serving the needs of students and service to the university and community. The staff award was added in 2019. Nominations are solicited from the DWU campus community.
Herges began his teaching career at DWU in 2012. He holds a B.S. degrees from Dakota State University in multimedia and web design and computer graphic design. His Master of Fine Arts from the Academy of Art University is in computer art and new media. His expansive industry experience includes working as a user experience designer; software designer; web designer; graphic designer and entrepreneur. He has also overseen multiple DWU partnerships, one with Innovative Systems that provides internships for students and hires Dakota Wesleyan graduates and another with the City of Mitchell where Digital Media and Design students design the Corn Palace murals.
In nominations from both faculty and students, Herges was cited for his quest to constantly keep abreast of emerging technologies and use that knowledge in providing students with the most current practices in digital media. He teaches with a “practical orientation” and engages students using collaborative methods.
Provost Joe Roidt, in his remarks recognizing Herges at the commencement ceremony, stated, “The Clarke Award’s second criterion—excellence in serving the needs of students—explicitly references holding students to high expectations, and challenging students to expand their learning. One of the more noteworthy themes in the comments that students make about this professor’s courses is their sense of agency that comes from successfully meeting difficult challenges.”
Byrd is a member of the Physical Plant department and holds primary responsibility for cleaning and maintaining Rollins Campus Center and the Sherman Center, two of most heavily used spaces on campus. Byrd is a favorite among employees and is often referred to as “fantastic, dedicated, hardworking, organized, accommodating, capable, dependable, and inspirational.”
When announcing Byrd’s selection at the annual employee recognition event, DWU executive vice-president Theresa Kriese said, “Sandy goes above and beyond the assignment, often helps by offering suggestions, pitching in to make sure a project runs smoothly, and can anticipate what is needed sometimes before we even think of it. She takes pride in her work which is evident by those who see it not only within the DWU campus community, but also the greater Mitchell community.”
Each honoree received an engraved plaque and a cash award.