Dr. Larry Schou, Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion remembers his friend "Doc". Distinguished Professor Emeritus Wayne S. “Doc” Knutson, whose influence on theater and the arts spans from the University of South Dakota to the Black Hills, died late Monday at age 89. Knutson, who taught and held several leadership roles at USD over 35 years, entered hospice care in early November due to heart trouble.
“Dr. Wayne Knutson was an amazing man, with many areas of interest and many talents,” said Larry Schou, dean of USD’s College of Fine Arts. “He spent his career at USD helping build up the programs in theater, in English, at the Black Hills Playhouse (where USD students perform) and in the College of Fine Arts. One of the many things I will remember about Wayne was his passion for storytelling and his concept of working hard and doing the job well,” Schou said. Knutson, the first instructor to receive the title “university distinguished professor” by the South Dakota Board of Regents, arrived at USD in 1952 in the dual role of professor of speech and dramatic art and director of the university theater. He served from 1966 to 1971 as professor and chair of the Department of English. He was dean and professor of the College of Fine Arts from 1972 to 1980; vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of fine arts from 1980 to 1982; and professor of English and theater from 1982 until his retirement in 1987. He continued to teach part-time and was a freelance theater director and writer. Dr. Schou will visit about Knutson’s contributions to the greater art community.