S.D. Festival of Books receives SDSU Honors College Community Partner Award

Festival of Books and Center for the Book director Jennifer Widman (middle row, fifth from right) holds the South Dakota Festival of Books Outstanding Community Partner Award following the annual Honors Convocation at South Dakota State University on March 28, 2019. The SDSU Honors College presented the award to the Festival during the ceremony in recognition of the opportunities it has offered to SDSU Honors students, such as an appearance on campus by internationally-renowned author Alice Sebold at the 2018 Festival in Brookings.

Festival Recognized for Offering Opportunities to SDSU Students

The South Dakota Festival of Books was honored recently by an entity that knows a thing or two about "honor" – the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College at South Dakota State University.

At its annual Honors Convocation March 28, the College presented its Outstanding Community Partner Award to the Festival in recognition of the opportunities it has offered to SDSU Honors students. Festival events in Brookings have encouraged students to meet acclaimed authors with a wide range of expertise.

Jennifer Widman, director of the South Dakota Center for the Book, accepted the award on behalf of the South Dakota Humanities Council, which puts on the annual Festival.

"We've been so fortunate to collaborate with the SDSU Honors College to provide opportunities for students to hear directly from Pulitzer Prize-winning historians and journalists, best-selling novelists and poets, and many more," she said.

Special Appreciation for Support of SDSU Common Read

In making the award, Rebecca Bott-Knutson, dean of the Honors College, expressed particular appreciation for the Festival's support of the 2018 Common Read. The selected book, "Wrecked" by Maria Padian, focused on sexual assault, an issue also addressed by Festival presenter and internationally best-selling author Alice Sebold in two appearances on the SDSU campus.

Sebold's debut novel, "The Lovely Bones," created a literary sensation upon its release and was later made into a major motion picture by director Peter Jackson with a star-studded cast. Sebold also survived her own rape as a first-year student at Syracuse University, an experience which led to a memoir, "Lucky," and a lifelong dedication to understanding and eradicating sexual violence.

"Sebold's interests dovetailed so perfectly with the themes of the Common Read that we wanted as many students as possible to hear from her," Widman said. "It was a thrill to see young people streaming in to her sessions, and she told us afterward that she was especially moved by a standing-room only event in the Student Union at which several students opened up about their own experiences."

Acclaimed author Alice Sebold speaks at the 2018 South Dakota Festival of Books in Brookings at an event on the SDSU campus. The Festival of Books received an Outstanding Community Partner Award from the SDSU Honors College in March for affording importan

Acclaimed author Alice Sebold speaks at the 2018 South Dakota Festival of Books in Brookings at an event on the SDSU campus. The Festival of Books received an Outstanding Community Partner Award from the SDSU Honors College in March for, among other reasons, offering important opportunities to SDSU students, such as attending events featuring well-known authors like Sebold.

Partnership Yields Enhanced Awareness of Important Issues

Working together, the two organizations had a greater impact than either would have had alone, Bott-Knutson said.

"This partnership yielded enhanced awareness of both the Festival and the Common Read, resulting in robust participation in both programs and strong focus on the awareness and prevention of sexual assault. We are delighted to recognize the South Dakota Festival of Books with the 2019 Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College Community Partner Award."

In addition to the Outstanding Community Partner award, the Honors Convocation featured eight faculty awards, one alumnus award and multiple student awards. Justin Goetz, a 2007 SDSU Honors graduate, presented a keynote address titled "The Humility Paradox."

He encouraged students to build lives based on service by keeping in mind the C.S. Lewis quote, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."

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