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Markel, Westwick named directors

Lynn Sargeant, dean of South Dakota State University’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, has announced directors for two of the college’s schools.

Paul Markel has been named the founding director of the School of Psychology, Sociology and Rural Studies while Joshua Westwick ’01/M.S. ’03, is now the director of the School of Communication and Journalism. Westwick replaces Lyle Olson, who retired in June as the school’s director.

“Both Dr. Markel and Dr. Westwick bring creativity and innovation to these leadership roles,” Sargeant said. “In the interview process, they showed the experience and vision to lead the respective schools to their full potential.”

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Paul Markel

Markel comes to SDSU with 25 years of experience in higher education and has served as a department chair, interim dean and director of university programs funded by the Bush Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.

After completing graduate work in psychology at the University of Colorado, Markel worked in the biotechnology sector before starting his academic career.

While advancing through the ranks at Minot State University, where he eventually became chair of addiction studies, psychology and social work, Markel had academic appointments at Belgium’s Hasselt University, Boston University and Harvard Medical School. He is a member of the Association for Psychological Sciences, the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, and the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Joshua Westwick


Westwick, who was the school’s associate director, has been recognized for his teaching and leadership by the National Communication Association. He received the Don Yoder Distinguished Faculty Award at the 2021 NCA annual Basic Course Division business meeting. In addition, he has mentored four graduate students to receive the Central States Communication Association’s Pamela Cooper Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching.

A leading scholar in the basic course, communication education and instructional communication research communities, Westwick led the efforts for the SDSU basic course to the 2013 NCA Program of Excellence Award.

Becky Kuehl, associate professor in the School of Communication and Journalism and coordinator of the women, gender and sexuality studies program, is the school’s associate director.

The School of Psychology, Sociology and Rural Studies is now South Dakota State’s sixth school. The School of Design started in 2015, the School of Performing Arts in 2017, the School of Communication and Journalism in 2018 and both the Ness School of Management and Economics and the School of American and Global Studies in 2019.