Snack Pack the Palace event set for Tigers basketball game

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Weekend Snack Pack Program, in conjunction with Dakota Wesleyan University, is asking sports fans to Snack Pack the Palace at Saturday’s Tiger basketball game.


DWU’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) Club is organizing an awareness event for the Weekend Snack Pack Program during the DWU vs. Doane College game Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Corn Palace. The DWU baseball team will sell 50/50 raffle tickets with the winner drawn during halftime of the men’s game, and all proceeds will go toward the Weekend Snack Pack program. The women’s game begins at 2 p.m. and the men’s at 4 p.m.


Raffle tickets for the 50/50 drawing will be sold at a table near the entrance and are $1 each, six for $5, 13 for $10, or 25 for $20. People can also donate snack food items toward the Weekend Snack Pack Program at the raffle table.


The Weekend Snack Pack Program provides one bag of easy-to-prepare meals and snacks for local elementary students. Foods given include things like ravioli or macaroni and cheese, with a snack and either a fruit or a vegetable. The program was created to help children who primarily stay home alone on the weekends, have something nutritious and easy to make.


The Weekend Snack Pack Program was begun by Cindy Novachich in 2010 and currently delivers about 375 weekly packs to four local elementary schools: L.B. Williams, Longfellow, Gertie Belle Rogers and John Paul II.


If interested in donating toward the Weekend Snack Pack Program or volunteering to pack meals, please contact Novachich at or call 605-770-5832. Individuals may stop by during packing times to lend a hand, or service organizations can sign up as a group. Also, there are bins located outside of Hughes Hall for food donations to be dropped off.


DWU’s Online M.B.A. a Great Fit for Busy Adults Like Kimberly

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Kimberly Lofgren knew she wanted a flexible online M.B.A. degree program to fit into her active life as a mother of two young children and the director of finance and administration at Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce/Mitchell Area Development Corp. 

She also wanted a program that would develop skills and knowledge she could use in her career—even before she completed her M.B.A.

Kimberly found that in the Master of Business Administration—Strategic Leadership degree program at Dakota Wesleyan University.

“The courses in the online M.B.A. program have enabled me to broaden my thinking and understanding of the business environment, allowing me to understand the issues small businesses face and how best to solve their problems,” she says.

Kimberly earned an associate’s degree in accounting in 2001 at Mitchell Technical Institute and a bachelor’s in accounting at DWU in 2005. As a DWU alumna, Kimberly knew the type of education she could expect from DWU. The online format of DWU’s M.B.A. also fit perfectly into her busy life.

“Between work and busing kids to activities, I have found that I can log in and complete my homework in the evening while they are sleeping,” she says.

If you’re trying to decide if the time is right to pursue your M.B.A. at DWU, Kimberly advises: “Go for it.”

DWU’s online M.B.A. is specifically designed to prepare graduates to be successful in small and medium-sized businesses. It can be completed in as little as 12 months.

Request more information now.

If you started your degree path at a technical institute like Kimberly did, and still need to complete your bachelor’s degree before you can pursue an M.B.A., consider DWU’s online Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership.

CategoriesBlog: Online Degrees @ DWU, News,

DWU students named to dean’s list for fall

Monday, January 19, 2015

The 2014 fall semester dean’s list at Dakota Wesleyan University includes 238 students.


To qualify for the dean’s list, a student must have a semester grade point average of at least 3.5 on a four-point scale. They also have to complete at least 12 hours of academic work during the semester. The following students have been named to the dean’s list.


Aberdeen — Ariana Arampatzis, Kristin Brandt, Thomas Hogg

Alexandria — Kendra Cheeseman, Timothy Leach

Armour — Lydia Ymker

Baltic — Nathan Stadem

Belle Fourche — Tyler Burr

Blunt — Macey Chambers

Bowdle — Elizabeth Anderson

Box Elder — Lisa Stanley

Britton — Jade Hoisington

Brookings — Bailey Gummer, Katelynn Runge

Burke — Jay Determan, Skyler Heyden, Turner Serr

Canistota — Dylan Lynde, Chloe Nielsen, Alex Roberston, Trevor Schroeder

Canton — Abigail Fossum, Jared Stearns

Cavour — Brent Matter

Chamberlain — Makenna Hancock

Colome — Michael Rohde

Corsica — Kris Menning, Lacey Reimnitz, Kayla Vanden Hoek

Crooks — Trae Bergh, Tyler Bergh

Dell Rapids — Dylan Ljunggren, Tanner Munk, Trevor Peter

DeSmet — Grayson Gruenhagen

Dimock — Tanner Weber

Elk Point — Amy Zeller

Estelline — Daniel Mitchell

Ethan — Chase McBrayer, Cody McBrayer, Kira Stammer

Faith — Shanna Selby

Fedora — Cal Wiese

Garretson — Dustin Steckler, Patrick Whetham

Harrisburg — Savanah Debelts, Heather Willet, Heidi Willet

Hartford — Caleb Heiberger, Madison Kuehl

Hot Springs — Brady Besco

Howard — Andrew Schwader

Hurley — Celeste Beck, Stephen Lee

Huron — Caleb Carr, Alexis Fiorini, Ashley Gaddis

Iroquois — April Leichtenberg, Shelby Matthews

Lake Andes — DiMera Dvorak, Nichole Dvorak, Kelsey Kniffen

Lake Preston — Cole Casper

Letcher — Nadine Cota, Alicia Vermeulen

Madison — Cody Warns, Kelsey Warns

Mellete — Landon Fischbach

Miller — Shaney Davis

Mitchell — Sandra Baker, Tatyana Brown, Alexandra Christensen, Tegan Elliot, Kirsti Garrett, Kayla Geraets-Majercik, Brent Havlik, Courtney Hellman, Matthew Howlett, Krista Huber, Brittney Kaufmann, Julia Kaus, Emma Kelly, Collette Krutsch, Katherine Lazenby, Serina Lesnar, Cynthia Loseke, Mareisha Marvin, Dezarae McGuire, Heather Merry, Dillon Miles, Madison-Ainsley Miller, Chelsea Moody, Christopher Nemec, Christina Petersen, Rachel Reichel, Katie Sanderson, Joshua Schmitz, Samuel Schumacher, Tara Tollefson, Jared Van Winkle, Briana Weiss, Elise Wibben

Mount Vernon — Jordan Adam, Sara Deinert, Jodi Doering, Emma Otterpohl, Delayna Paulson

Onida — Michael Stier, Ryan Yackley

Parkston — Ann Thury, McKenzie Weidenbach

Philip — Kaci Oliver

Pierre — Matthew Bader, Rebecca Ehrenfried, Michael Hardwick, Alexander McGuigan, Travis Moodie, Tyson Moodie

Platte — Shelby Burket, Kennedi Travis

Presho — Stetsen Eriksen

Pukwana — Anna Pazour

Rapid City — Samuel Britt, Paige Hendricks, Jarrick Jensen, Megan Johnson

Redfield — Shayna Frost

Renner — Shelby Vosburg

Salem — Kurt Schwarzenbart

Scotland — Aisha Abbink, Spencer Bloch, Haley Brunke, Samantha Geiman

Sioux Falls — Kelsey Cook, Alexander Famestad, Alison Jones, Kylie Keiser, Brooklyn Oehlerking, Megan Peltier, Cierra Schneider, Zachary Schneider

South Shore — Jordan Buchholz

Spearfish — Jennifer Kriese

Springfield — Chesney Nagel

Stickney — Adam Bormann

Tabor — Dakota Bodden

Tea — Andrew Becker

Tulare — Joesph Mitchell

Tyndall — Travis McDonald, Tyra Patzlaff, Tara Ronke

Vermillion — Hannah Ford

Volga — Tyson DeGroot

Wagner — Allison Cimpl, Justine Soukup

Warner — Mallory Jark, Briana Jung

Watertown — Emily Pengilly, Nicholas Tschakert

Waubay — Jonathan Wieger

Wessington Springs — Lexi Olinger

White — Autumn Schmidt

White Lake — Beau Byrd, Jazmyn Hinker

Winner — Austin Calhoon, Anthony Husher, Sara Husher, Austin Schroeder, Tyler Vavra

Wolsey — Ashley Styer

Woonsocket — Amber Hiles, Emily Olson

Yale — Lexy Timm


Out of State



Bakersfield — Colleen Hannum

Chula Vista — Alexandra Davis

Lancaster — Kathryn Anderus

North Hollywood — Anthony Cervantes

Ore Grande — Hannah Harbour

Pearblossom — Trever Devestern



Arvada — Jerry Stravia

Fort Collins — Michael Claar

Loveland — Dyrani Clark



George — Sarah Kruse

Hawarden — Kelby Van Wyk

Little Rock — Madeline DeBeer



Driggs — Sean Riley

Kellogg — Keagen Hadley

Tetonia — Braiden Jorgensen



Villa Park — Hayden Adams



Albert Lea — Rebecca Allen

Chaska — Peter Wartenberg

Dawson — Sarah Zaiser

Finlayson — Susan Behrens

Forest Lake — Samantha Forslund

Heron Lake — Alex Meyer

Jasper — Sawyer Gibson

Kerkhoven — Jonah Johnson

Marshall — Brooke Louwagie

Pipestone — Katie Brockberg

Ramsey — Amber Bray, Ashley Bray

Rochester — Bryce Berletic

Worthington — Cassandra Landgaard



Parnell — Barbara Mullock

Ravenwood — Kathy Brand



Corvallis — Jake Capko

Missoula — Alecia VanTassel

Roundup — Marissa Soderberg


North Dakota

Fargo — Matthew Hockert

Surrey — Taylor Kuhn



Blair — Adam Jahnel

Gordon — Macy Piper

Juniata — Ciera Eisele

Mead — Katherine Johnson

Norfolk — Cassandra Fink, Caitlin McLouth, Jerrett Mills

Omaha — Lillian Jones

Polk — Mackenzie Stevens

Seward — Kellan Willet


New Mexico

Belen — Xavier Armijo


New York

Sound Beach — William Lutjen



Lantana — Jonathon Knight

Schertz — Taylor Spence



Casper — John Fabrizius

Cheyenne — Savannah Minder

Douglas — Jamie Geho

Gillette — Tyler Fortuna, Alexis Wilde

Jackson — Christian Doyle


Other countries



British Columbia

Merritt — Benjamin McNiven



Rosenfeld — Nathen Smith

Winnipeg — Lorissa Loeppky, Hailey Unger



Dortmund — Christopher Juettemeier



Muscat — Thara Ali Said



Sodertalje — Gabriella Frykbo




Around the World Cultural Festival invites community members to participate

Friday, January 16, 2015



Pick up a passport and travel the world – in less than an hour.


The annual Around the World Cultural Festival is set for mid-February at Dakota Wesleyan University.


The festival will take place from noon to 1 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 12, in the East Main Dining Room upstairs in the Rollins Campus Center on campus. Booths set up by DWU students, staff, faculty and even community members, represent countries and cultures from around the world. The event is free and open to the public.


This is the university’s 12th year and 13th festival and DWU’s Kate Miller, director for Student Support Services and adviser for the DWU Student Diversity Council, is inviting community members to participate.


“Around the World is fun on both sides of the table,” Miller said. “Students and community members are exposed to different cultures, sometimes foods, and have a chance to talk to people from different countries or those who have visited them. For the people who volunteer to run a booth, it’s a chance to share something they know or have experienced.


“More importantly, the event promotes diversity appreciation.”


Visitors to the festival are issued a “passport” and take a “world tour” around the room stopping by each booth. Completed passports are turned in for a prize drawing. Prizes are fair trade cultural items from the store, Ten Thousand Villages.


The Mitchell community is encouraged to take part in the event and register as a presenter. If interested in hosting a table, sign up by contacting Miller at 995-2901, or by email at


Big ambitions aren't just for big cities

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thomas Family


By Jacki Miskimins

For The Daily Republic


EDITOR’S NOTE: Palace City Profiles is an ongoing series of community members’ stories, introducing us to our neighbors and the personalities that call Mitchell home. If you have suggestions for individuals or families with a great story, please contact Jacki Miskimins at 996-1140.


Demographers and statisticians refer to the Mitchell area as a “Micropolitan.” Commentators say “flyover country,” and others see the region as simply rural; and yet, the region is home to a variety of career and educational opportunities that belie the relatively small population.


Unaware of these opportunities, many people from the region think they have to head to larger cities to pursue their dreams; cities where they may have to compromise their career for their family, or vice versa.


Fredel Thomas was one. Originally from Tripp, she says she was headed for New York City.


“I was going to be a big city girl, I was just sure of it,” she recalls.


Plans changed, though, when she lost her mother during college.


“After that, it was all about family. Being close to my dad and younger sister and brother, watching them grow up. New York City was out.”


And with it, she thought, her big ambitions.


Pursuing a degree in Computer Science at the University of South Dakota, Fredel worried that she would have to taper her career goals to live close to her family. Instead, she’s found professional and personal opportunities in Mitchell that she never dreamed possible.


Her first big break came in the form of an internship with Martin Group (now CHR) between her junior and senior years in college. The technical culture was a perfect environment to apply her education, and before she graduated, she was extended an offer to join the company full-time.


In her 12 years with the company, Fredel pursued opportunities in all areas of the business.


With experience in sales, quality assurance, and seemingly everything in between, she was eventually promoted to the Director of Product Management. In that role, she had the opportunity to start multiple lines of business within the company — “intrapreneurship,” as she calls it. She also, through travel, had the chance to experience life in a bigger city; and realized that it was not the big life she had formerly dreamed of.


“There was a period of time where I was frequently in Seattle. And the more I was there, the more I realized I wanted to be here. This pace, this community, is such a better way of life for me and my family.”


Her tenure and experience also put her in a position to make a career transition that surprised even her, when she accepted a position as the Director of the Kelley Center at Dakota Wesleyan University.


“I got caught off guard — again! — at the opportunities right here. And I was grateful that my experience had prepared me so well for this type of a career change.”


It turned out to be an exact fit, even providing her the opportunity to complete her MBA in Strategic Leadership from DWU while she worked.


Flexible scheduling, a family-friendly atmosphere, an elementary school right on campus, and it being a faith-based institution have made Dakota Wesleyan an ideal place for Fredel to work, while Mitchell remains her ideal community.


“I didn’t have to compromise,” she says with pride. “Neither did my family.”


Her husband, Jason, has built a career in the telecommunications industry, a major player in the local technology scene. Their children, meanwhile, have access to personal, high-quality education and exceptional public parks, and family-focused health care options.


Despite a life spent near the Mitchell region, Fredel is still in awe of the options her eyes have been opened to. “Not only can you develop an amazing career, you can also develop skills here that transition when you make a career change. You are not locked in to just one company or just one path.”


When Fredel Thomas gave up dreams of New York City, she did not have to compromise any of her ambitions; in fact, she was able to go further than she had ever imagined.


“I never thought I could get to where I am today, in Mitchell. But now I realize that I never could have done it anywhere else.”



Back in business: DWU expanding online classes with MBA, other programs

Thursday, January 15, 2015


The Daily Republic


It’s not just business as usual for Dakota Wesleyan University.


As DWU staff and faculty prepare to resume classes next week, a growing contingent of students won’t roll suitcases into dorm rooms or trudge across a snow-covered campus with books. Instead, they’ll log on to DWU’s online offerings.


Last year, DWU launched its online master’s in business administration program, the first graduate program in business for the college, and will kick off a new online degree completion program this spring. It enables the university to reach a niche audience, and serve a growing need for working professionals, university officials said.


“We recognize that college no longer ends at 22 for people,” Dakota Wesleyan President Amy Novak said. “Education, ongoing learning, is absolutely vital and necessary to being competitive.”


Novak said the decision to start an online MBA program at Dakota Wesleyan was generated by interest from business leaders in the region who were interested in graduate-level education geared toward small- to mid-sized businesses. Novak said many MBA programs cater to corporate America, or larger business models when most of the business owners and managers in Mitchell and the area serve small, often family owned, shops.


“We recognize that the heart of South Dakota, and frankly, the heart of our region, are small and medium enterprises,” she said.


The professors come from a range of different backgrounds and industries, Novak said, but they all bring a practical, real-world relevance that helps set DWU’s program apart, she added. Finding a balance of people who are qualified to teach, but who also have real-world experience was a major goal for the program, Novak said.


“Our courses are taught by people who have been in the workplace,” she said. “We want people who have been really good in business, but educated as well.”


‘Not everybody’s going to get a corporate job’


Monty Bohrer, an associate professor of business administration and economics at Dakota Wesleyan and the director of the business graduate program, said while the traditional MBA model is valuable, DWU’s program seeks to fill a unique, niche role for people in smaller business and leadership roles.


“We feel there’s a need to fulfill that aspect,” he said. “Not everybody’s going to get a corporate job.”


In a corporate job, Bohrer said people’s jobs are likely more distinct. For instance, he said someone developing a marketing strategy at a large corporation would be surrounded by specialists, and would likely have a large pool of resources. In a small- to mid-sized business, one person might be in charge of executing an entire marketing strategy.


“What we’re trying to develop is a well-rounded expert in the area of marketing. You’re able to handle the branding side, the strategy side, distribution side,” he said. “You’re going to get a little bit broader perspective.”


Another difference, he said, is the focus on the practical. While some MBA programs may focus on the theory behind concepts, Bohrer and the other professors with DWU try to focus on how to apply those concepts in day-to-day job scenarios.


“Instead of talking about all the strategies there are involved, we’re going to take it down one more level and say, ‘OK, how do you apply those in a small- or mid-sized business?’ ” he said.

Bohrer’s work experience includes time with businesses like General Motors Acceptance Corporation, Godfather’s Pizza, Oracle Software, Holiday Inn and Gateway Computers, among others. He said those jobs have given him a wide range of experiences, and help him understand how the different components of business work together – which he can communicate to his students.


“I understand how marketing and accounting and finance and economics and management all integrate, and how one can effect the other,” he said.


Numbers rising


Novak said in addition to the online MBA program, DWU offers four master’s in education degrees online, a bachelor’s degree completion program for associate’s degrees in nursing. This spring, she said the college will also kick off an online bachelor’s degree completion program for students with two-year technical degrees, or who had to quit halfway through college before obtaining their degree.


She referenced it being a good option for students from Mitchell Technical Institute, who might have a two-year degree, who later decide they’d like to get a four-year degree. With the online program, Novak said those students can complete the remaining two years at Dakota Wesleyan to receive a bachelor’s degree in a flexible, online format that allows them to continue working.


“We’re excited about that,” Novak said. “This recognizes that what they earned in that technical degree is very strong, we just want to build on that and give them some additional leadership and business skills so they can advance professionally within their organization.”


Novak said the online programs have been growing. Bohrer said seven people have graduated from the MBA program, and Novak estimated about 120 students are enrolled in online programs, out of Dakota Wesleyan’s 875-student enrollment.


Furthering education


Fredel Thomas, director of the Kelley Center for Entrepreneurship at Dakota Wesleyan, was part of the first class for the new MBA program, and finished in August.


Thomas, 36, said she worked for CHR Solutions for 12 and a half years before DWU, and said she enjoyed the knowledge and real-world experience she gained during that time. But once she started working at Dakota Wesleyan, where some of her duties include teaching undergraduate entrepreneurship classes and working with small businesses and organizations to encourage entrepreneurship in the area, Thomas wondered if it might be time to further her education.


“One of my jobs is that I help small business – well, what a better way than to be educated with my MBA?” she said.


Thomas said students have the option to finish the program in one year or two. She hesitated to tackle the one-year program, fearing how she would balance a full-time job, family – she is married, and has four children under the age of 7 – and a full course load.


After learning she could switch to the two-year program if she decided the one-year was too intensive, Thomas said she decided to give it a whirl. Now that it’s over, she’s glad she went for it.


“I gave it a try, and I was really glad I did it in one year,” she said.


Thomas said it’s a lot to do in one year, and it did necessitate a few sacrifices on her part. She got a little less sleep, and had to say no to a few other things for a while. Evenings worked best for Thomas to work on assignments, and the time commitment varied with the assignment and the course.


“Sometimes it was 45 minutes, other times it was two hours a night,” she said.


She had a corner set aside in her house, with her computer and books. When Thomas was there, her family knew she was working on school. When she put her computer away for the last time after completing the program, she said her daughter exclaimed, “You’re really done.”


“She was so excited,” Thomas said.


During her courses, Thomas said she was able to learn about different tools businesses can use, and things that are relevant to her own work at Dakota Wesleyan.


“I was able to use those to really research and dig in my MBA program, so I was getting work done and school done all at the same time,” she said.


More than just reading, writing


The online program includes the traditional reading and writing aspects of education, Thomas said, but doesn’t end there. Students had hands-on projects and simulations, like a realistic analysis of financial statements or a simulation where students ran their own airline. Having professors who come from a business or entrepreneurial background meant students didn’t just learn concepts and theories – they learned application.


“It was never just theory. It was very practical,” she said.


Thomas also appreciated the program’s incorporation of Christian values and ethics into the curriculum, which she said made the education feel more “wholistic.” She said in one course, the students read several books pertaining to different views on leadership, and then had to choose their own personal leadership style. Thomas was able to build a model of her own that was Christ-centered, and reflected her own values.


“We didn’t shy away from talking about that, and what that means from an ethical standpoint,” Thomas said. “I was able to tie my faith into my education, in that scenario.”


Novak said that has always been a priority for the program – to make the curriculum not just practical, but in line with Dakota Wesleyan’s faith-based values, as well.


“It’s of course grounded in our mission to develop strong, ethically minded leaders,” Novak said.


Thomas also praised the professors in the program, noting they lend real-world, practical experience to the coursework, and were accessible to students who needed extra help. She also admits that even though she wasn’t sure what to think of the online format at first, she now believes it was the best option for her.


“It will really work with your home life, because it’s so flexible,” she said of the MBA program as a whole. “It has a good structure.”


Now that she has her MBA, Thomas said it has expanded her opportunities at DWU. She could possibly teach for the MBA program, and is on a strategic team for the college.


“It gives me tools I need to serve Dakota Wesleyan better,” she said. “My job doesn’t change, but some of my duties have been enhanced.”



Auditions set for DWU production, “Boeing, Boeing’

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dakota Wesleyan University’s Department of Theatre has set auditions for the March production of “Boeing, Boeing,” a comedy by Marc Camoletti.


DWU will hold auditions at 7 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 12-13, in the Patten-Wing Theatre in Hughes Hall on campus. Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script, some movement and some accent work. If interested in auditioning but cannot make the set times, contact Dan Miller, theatre director, at 605-290-0641. Scripts may be checked out by contacting Miller at


Auditions are open to all. Rehearsal times are tentatively set for 3 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursdays leading up to the production. The production requires two men and four women. The female roles may require a foreign accent.


Play synopsis: “It’s the 1960s, and swinging bachelor Bernard couldn’t be happier: a flat in Paris and three gorgeous stewardesses all engaged to him without knowing about each other. But Bernard’s perfect life gets bumpy when his friend Robert comes to stay and a new and speedier Boeing jet throws off all of his careful planning. Soon all three stewardesses are in town simultaneously, timid Robert is forgetting which lies to tell to whom, and catastrophe looms.”


New Year’s Resolution #1: Earn Your Online Degree at DWU

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A new year is a perfect time to contemplate our lives. We make many resolutions, often aimed at our physical well-being. We resolve to lose weight, stop smoking, and to actually use those gym memberships we buy. But by mid-February, we have abandoned our resolutions—until next year. 

What if in 2015 we resolved to truly change our lives in lasting ways? What if learning became a central part of this new year?

One way to positively impact your life is to earn an online degree through Dakota Wesleyan University. At DWU you can earn an online degree in:

Why DWU for online learning? While I could give you many reasons, here are four:

  1. Relevant coursework: At DWU, we don’t believe in busywork. We believe in providing you with information, knowledge, and skills you can apply—immediately.
  2. Personalized attention: Even in the online environment our professors will be accessible to you and supportive of you. They will mentor and guide you so you can achieve your goals.
  3. Preparation for leadership: All of our programs are designed to prepare you for leadership roles.
  4. Speed to completion: You can complete our MBA in one year (full-time) and our other programs in 18-24 months.    

Ready to make that life-changing resolution to earn your online degree? Then please request more information.

Happy New Year!

Dr. Derek Driedger

Associate Dean of Digital Learning 

Dakota Wesleyan University


CategoriesBlog: Online Degrees @ DWU, News,

Spotlight: DWU's Dr. Joe Gertsema

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dr. Joe Gertsema, director of graduate studies/education, exemplifies what we look for in our leaders at Dakota Wesleyan University. He has a deep passion for lifelong learning. He’s committed to student success. He enjoys mentoring students. He also brings a wealth of experience to DWU.

Dr. Gertsema was a school superintendent for 26 years—23 in Yankton, S.D., and three in Canton. He has been an elementary and middle school principal. He also has been active in professional organizations and state educational committees. Dr. Gertsema has traveled to places like China and Israel to broaden his horizons on education, too.

He began at DWU as an adjunct professor. Last August, he was named director of graduate studies/education and he is also the chair of the education department.

Dr. Gertsema decided to continue his education career at DWU because of the innovative nature of the university and its programs, such as the Master of Arts in Education. He enjoys helping students learn theories and practices that will help them advance their careers in education.

Dr. Gertsema regularly teaches courses in the Master of Arts in Education. In addition to students from South Dakota, his most recent course attracted online learners from Iowa, Oklahoma, Southern California, and even Brazil.

He likes getting to know his students in the online community.

“All of those students have different backgrounds,” he says. “That really broadens the learning for everyone.”

Outside of DWU, Dr. Gertsema enjoys spending time with family. He and his wife have three adult daughters and seven grandchildren, all of whom live close by. He also likes to spend time outdoors hiking and biking. 

If you would like to learn from people like Dr. Gertsema, please request more information. We look forward to helping you become our next online learner at DWU.

CategoriesBlog: Online Degrees @ DWU, News,

PUSH to solve world hunger

Friday, December 19, 2014

By Candy DenOuden

The Daily Republic


When Alisha Vincent sat down in the United Nations building in New York City, she wondered who had been in that chair before.


DWU signs PUSH“There's probably been a significant number people from around the world that have occupied that seat at one time or another,” she said. “It was inspiring to be there.”


Vincent, director of the McGovern Center, joined Dakota Wesleyan University President Amy Novak and DWU student Ariana Arampatzis on Dec. 9 at the U.N., as Novak became one of the university presidents to sign the Presidents' Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security. Novak was one of six of those presidents selected to be on a steering committee for Presidents United to Solve Hunger – PUSH.


“It was exciting,” Novak said.


According to information from PUSH, in February, the Hunger Solutions Institute, in partnership with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization held a forum. A consensus outcome from that gathering, which drew 70 leaders from 30 universities in Canada, the U.S. and Latin America, was the Presidents' Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security.


Novak and Vincent signed the commitment this summer. The other members of the steering committee, along with Novak, include the chair for the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development Brady Deaton, presidents from universities in the Netherlands and Honduras as well as two other universities in the U.S.


Novak said she sees Dakota Wesleyan's role as being an inspiration to and model for other small, faith-based institutions to make similar efforts to fight hunger in their communities.


DWU at UN“Small institutions can be very powerful instruments of change,” Novak said.

Novak said Dakota Wesleyan joined the effort, in part, because it so closely aligns with efforts its faculty and students already are passionate about, and which mirror one of the great passions of the late George McGovern. McGovern, for whom the McGovern Center on DWU's campus is named, dedicated much of his life to providing food for people in need. He wrote a book on the topic, “The Third Freedom: Ending Hunger in Our Time,” and served as the first director of Food for Peace, a food aid program.


“We became really excited about the idea,” Novak said.


Early in her time at the McGovern Center, Vincent said she brought people together to get feedback on what direction the center should take. It became apparent that, to honor the memory of the late Democratic senator, there were two things George McGovern was passionate about, politics, and solving hunger. He and his wife, Eleanor, are both alumni of Dakota Wesleyan.


“We are very fortunate to have the legacy already established by George and Eleanor McGovern,” Vincent said.


That connection has opened doors that otherwise might remain shut to a small liberal arts university in South Dakota.


“I've been able to meet some really incredible people who are engaged at the highest level in the battle against hunger,” Vincent said.


It's a legacy that Dakota Wesleyan students have already bought into, she said. The DWU chapter of Universities Fighting World Hunger – renamed The Third Freedom, after McGovern's book – has bloomed from five students a year ago to 25 active members, and even more are showing interest. Arampatzis, a sophomore, is the president of the student organization, and said the issue of feeding hungry people has become a passion of hers.


“We have enough food on Earth to feed everyone,” she said, noting there just aren't the right resources and methods to distribute that food to everyone who needs it. “That just blows my mind.”


Visiting the U.N. was not only inspirational, but she hopes that Dakota Wesleyan will be able to “ignite a fire” among other students to get involved in combating world hunger.


“Hopefully the next step will be getting students connected,” she said.


“Our students are really committed to making the world a better place and their enthusiasm for defeating hunger in our local and global communities is contagious,” Vincent said. “I'm thankful for the chance to work with such an inspiring group of students and community members.”


In fact, Novak and Vincent both noted that many of the steps PUSH wants schools to implement are things DWU is already doing. University efforts to combat hunger include UFWH students helping with the Love Feast, canned food drives, Mitchell Food Pantry and the Snack Pack Program. Vincent said this spring, students will work on food policy initiatives with Bread for the World hopes to develop opportunities with Feeding South Dakota.


“Our students, really, are the ones who are pushing this forward and saying 'we want to be part of this,' “ Novak said. “Really all I'm doing is facilitating their skills and talents.”


In addition, the McGovern Center supports a Livestock for Life project that works with local leaders to identify families that qualify for a goat or cow. They raise the animal until it produces then given the first born back to the community for redistribution. The program helps with food and can generate small incomes for families.


Globally, students continue to participate in the McGovern Center's Livestock for Life project. Vincent said she is taking some UFWH students to Uganda in July to do an agriculture workshop for smallholder farmers, and the program has a plot of land in rural Uganda that helps support a school lunch program there.


“Our students are no longer the students that are OK with sitting in lecture halls,” Vincent, who is also a faculty member at DWU, said. “We really do have a changing demographic of students who really want to get their hands dirty, so to speak.”


Having Novak on the steering committee for the group helps DWU occupy the niche for small, liberal arts universities to join the cause, Novak and Vincent agreed.


“I'm very proud to work with President Novak. Dakota Wesleyan has the ability to be the beacon,” Vincent said. “We have the opportunity to really take a leadership role in solving hunger, especially among small, faith-based universities.”


All three women referenced the importance of alleviating hunger for people locally, regionally and globally. Vincent and Arampatzis spoke of experiences on mission trips, seeing small children dying of starvation. A rural Chamberlain native, Vincent said she has traveled extensively domestically and internationally, and seeing people dying of hunger is not something you soon forget.


“I've seen what it looks like when people are starving,” she said. “I've never experienced that pain, but I've been in a lot of situations and have a lot of close relationships with people who have.”


And while PUSH has a global focus, DWU hopes to continue to focus on the local and regional levels. It's easy to assume it can't happen here, they said – but it does. On Tuesday, Novak said the Snack Pack program gave out 387 food packs – just for Mitchell youth.


“I think that's a pretty significant concern,” Novak said. “When people aren't hungry, they can live more productive lives.”


To continue working toward collective solutions, Dakota Wesleyan will host its first Hunger Summit on April 15 on campus. Vincent said she's been working with South Dakota State University, Feeding South Dakota, the Midwest Dairy Association and others to focus on solutions for South Dakota.


“I'm really excited about that. I'm really hoping we can get people from around the community and state,” Vincent said. “We really believe in collective partnerships.”

Presidents United to Solve Hunger



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Dakota Wesleyan University was named to the 2013 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This designation is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
Dakota Wesleyan University is proudly affiliated with the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Members of any and all faiths are welcome and encouraged to experience an education based on learning, leadership, faith and service.
Dakota Wesleyan University has been honored as a College of Distinction through demonstration of excellence in these areas: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant communities and successful outcomes.
The Chronicle of Higher Education named Dakota Wesleyan University one of the “Great Colleges to Work For®” for 2014-2015. DWU won honors in three categories: facilities, workspace and security, and supervisor/department chair relationship.
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