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DWU announces fall Professional Excellence Awards

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Dakota Wesleyan University has announced Erin Desmond and Chad Larson as the winners of the Professional Excellence Awards for fall term.

Desmond, winner for the faculty award, is a voice and piano instructor at DWU, as well as accompanist for the music department. Desmond joined the DWU faculty in 2012 and began the women’s chamber choir, Dakota Dynamics; was the original organizer for the Mitchell Area Children’s Choir; and began the Wesleyan Bells, which is the only collegiate handbell choir in the state.

“Erin is tremendously hard working and goes out of her way for all students in the music department,” stated one nomination letter. “As the DWU accompanist, she puts in tons of extra hours playing for musical rehearsals, university events and helping students prepare for recitals and auditions.”

Desmond is also described as a valuable team member in the music department and always willing to take on additional duties to help other faculty in need. Additionally, she cultivates relationships with students that last beyond graduation.

“Erin’s students adore her and she provides them with a safe and nurturing environment in her classroom and studio,” stated another nomination. “Students have sought out her advice and guidance and she always responds in a timely manner, even during evenings and weekends.”

Larson, winner of the staff award, joined the DWU marketing and communication department in 1997 as the graphic design specialist for the entire campus. Larson is also a DWU alumnus and assistant boys’ tennis coach for Mitchell High School.

Larson’s 20-plus years of experience at DWU has been a stabilizing influence in the marketing department.

“Chad has shown numerous times throughout this past year how to make a transition of a position easy and painless,” stated a nomination letter, which went on to describe the hours Larson spent over the summer and fall teaching the staff member about the publication process for projects.

Larson is also described as dedicated and professional, as he works long hours and always meets deadlines for departments across campus. His experience has also been invaluable through department changes and the university’s rebranding efforts.