ABERDEEN, S.D. – Sara Christensen Blair has received Northern State University’s 2013-14 Outstanding Faculty Award.
Christensen Blair, associate professor of art, consistently demonstrates outstanding teaching, said Dr. Alan LaFave, dean of the NSU School of Fine Arts. She also gives selflessly of her time and energy for the benefit of the art department, the School of Fine Arts and the university, LaFave said.
“Her commitment to expanding the minds and mindsets of her students is simply outstanding,” LaFave said when recommending Christensen Blair for the award. “She is deeply concerned for the success of each student and strives to help them achieve their goals through her teaching, advising, and concern for their professional development.”
Christensen Blair, who has worked at Northern since 2006, is the university’s NCAA faculty athletic representative. She is the faculty advisor for the NSU Art Club, guest juror for the Mobridge Area Arts Council, and serves on the NSU Faculty Senate and NSU promotion and tenure committee. She also co-led a tour of Italy with 20 students in summer 2013.
Christensen Blair has attended and presented her academic research at multiple national locations including Louisville, Ky.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Greensboro, N.C. She was also accepted to present as one of 24 scholars at the World Ornamental Forum at the Kirchner Museum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year.
Christensen Blair received a Bachelor of Arts from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.; her Bachelor of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and her Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Dakota. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts in Portland, Maine, and plans to defend her dissertation in January 2015.
“Sara is the absolute finest colleague one could wish to work with,” LaFave said. “I believe she is one of the finest faculty members at Northern and in the entire system.”
Christensen Blair also received several letters of nomination from peers and students at NSU. Fellow faculty members said Christensen Blair is “fiercely devoted and dedicated to her students and their education” and “works tirelessly inside and outside the classroom.”
Students, too, described her as a caring professor who takes the time to show an interest in her students.
“My experience at Northern wouldn’t have been as powerful as it has been if it wasn’t for Sara,” said fine arts major Emily Hansen in her nomination. “Such a passion in seeing students succeed is what teaching is all about. And that is exactly the spirit that Sara Christensen Blair possesses, and a characteristic that deserves to be rewarded.”
The Outstanding Faculty Award was announced at NSU’s spring commencement ceremony on Saturday.