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DWU announces faculty promotions, tenure

Monday, April 28, 2014

Five faculty members at Dakota Wesleyan University were recognized at the Honors Convocation for promotion and tenure.

Lori Bork, of the Arlene Gates Department of Nursing, was promoted to full professor status. Bork has been teaching nursing at DWU since 2001. She received her Associate of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees from DWU in 1985 and 1999, and her Master of Science from South Dakota State University in 2003.

Lana Loken, of the athletic training department, was promoted to full professor status. Loken, who serves as the clinical education coordinator, has been teaching at DWU since 2001. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1997 from South Dakota State University; her Master of Science degree in 1999 from St. Cloud State University; and her Doctor of Education in 2005 from the University of South Dakota.

Daniel Miller, theatre director, was promoted to associate professor and granted tenure. Miller has been teaching at DWU since 2007. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of South Dakota in 2000 and 2004.

Diane Sandhoff, dean of the College of Healthcare, Fitness and Sciences, was promoted to full professor status. Sandhoff has been teaching nursing at DWU since 1989. She received her nursing diploma in 1973 from St. John’s School of Nursing; her Bachelor of Science degree in 1989 and Master of Science degree in 1993 from South Dakota State University.

W. Jesse Weins, dean of the College of Leadership and Public Service, was promoted to associate professor and granted tenure. Weins has been teaching criminal justice at DWU since 2008. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from DWU in 2003, and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2007.


Two free music concerts set in May

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dakota Wesleyan University will close out the semester with two free concerts set for May.

The  LyricWood’s concert at 4 p.m., Sunday, May 4, in the Sherman Center on campus. These concerts are also free and open to the public.

The ensemble will feature its principal cellist, Eric Bliss, playing the first movement of the “Lalo Cello Concerto in D Minor.” The full string orchestra will play “Sonata for Strings in D Major,” by Jean Marie Leclair, and” Intermezzo for String Orchestra, Op. 8,” by Franz Schreker, with Dr. Clinton Desmond, choral director at DWU, conducting the Leclair and the Schreker pieces.

The Children’s Choir Concert will be at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 8, at the Mitchell First United Methodist Church, directed by Erin Desmond, instructor of piano and voice at DWU. The original date was set for May 1, but due to scheduling it has been pushed back one week.

DWU is a private, liberal arts university associated with the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church.  For more information about the Dakota Wesleyan University Department of Music, please click here.


Honorary doctorate, speaker announced for DWU’s 2014 Commencement

Friday, April 25, 2014

DWU alumnus to give Commencement address

Dakota Wesleyan University will celebrate commencement Saturday, May 3, with a baccalaureate service and graduation, and an honorary degree will be conferred posthumously upon a former faculty member.

Baccalaureate will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 3, at the Sherman Center on campus, and Commencement is set for 1 p.m. at the Corn Palace with 209 graduates.

Dr. Terry Grindstaff will be the special speaker for Commencement and Dr. Kenneth Novak will offer the Baccalaureate message. An Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters will be awarded posthumously to Ann Mitchell.

Grindstaff, of Omaha, Neb., is a 1999 Dakota Wesleyan graduate and assistant professor at the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions at Creighton University, Omaha, Neb. His Commencement address is titled “Appreciating Opportunity.”

Grindstaff studied sports medicine at DWU and was an NAIA National Wrestling Tournament Qualifier in 1999. Following DWU, he obtained a Master of Science, Health and Physical Education from Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro; a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Belmont University in Nashville, and a Doctor of Philosophy, Kinesiology from the University of Virginia. He is a certified athletic trainer and licensed physical therapist.

Grindstaff has over 45 publications in the areas of sports medicine and physical therapy. He has been the recipient of over $1.2 million in research grants, and is a regular presenter at professional association meetings.  He has served as a medical volunteer with USA Wrestling, Special Olympics, Project Homeless Connect Omaha and various sports tournaments.

He and his wife, Jill, have three children: Jackson, Greyson and Pierson.

Novak will deliver the sermon, “The Culture Made Me Do It!” during the Baccalaureate service.

Novak earned his undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame, and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  A published author, Novak’s professional background also includes 13 years of service to the U.S. Air Force, including roles as a military acquisition specialist, teacher of the year at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the chief speechwriter for the U.S. Air Force Command in Europe.

As an English professor at the United States Air Force Academy, he received the Academy Outstanding Educator Award. As a stay-at-home dad to eight children, he volunteers on many fronts in the Mitchell community, with a special commitment to Dakota Wesleyan University as the school’s First Gentleman. 

Novak is married to DWU President Amy Novak and they have eight children: Peter, Isaac, Luke, Mark, Seemela Grace, Marianna, Elijah, and Zechariah.

Mitchell, a Boston-area native, taught children’s literature at Dakota Wesleyan from 1973-2001, and her love for the written word was infectious.  She inspired students and affected generations through her passionate teaching and bag of books, which was her constant companion.  Regularly she would pull out a children’s book or two and read to her students.

Mitchell was born in 1939 in Canton, Mass., and attended Cornell University in New York, earning her bachelor’s degree. She later obtained her master’s degree in education from Harvard University.  It was at Cornell that she met Dave Mitchell, a New York native.  They were married on Sept. 8, 1962.

They spent the first few years of their marriage in Cincinnati, where she taught elementary school, until returning to Boston, where she also taught.  It was back in her home city that they met Don Messer, the man who would bring them to South Dakota.  Messer, a Dakota Wesleyan alumnus and future college president, invited them to teach in a city by their same name, Mitchell, S.D.  Mitchell’s adventurous spirit supported the move and they would, to their surprise, make Dakota Wesleyan and Mitchell their permanent home.

One of Mitchell’s greatest interests was reading, especially helping children access literature.  She was active in the local reading council, assisted the Dakota Wesleyan library and the Monhegan Memorial Library select new books for their collections, and helped develop the book giveaway program for the Love Feast at the First United Methodist Church. Her collection of more than 3,000 children’s books was donated to DWU.

Mitchell was an active church member all her life. Among her most significant contributions to the First United Methodist Church was her involvement in the founding of the Love Feast. 

She was also a devoted community servant, balancing her commitments to family and teaching with significant involvement in volunteer activities.  She was a longtime leader in the local Democratic Party and called hundreds of volunteers yearly for fundraisers and get-out-the-vote efforts.  A skeptic regarding electronic communication, she believed in the importance of the personal touch. She received the Goldie Wells Award for lifetime achievement from the state party for her efforts in grassroots organizing.

After a six-year battle with cancer, she died on July 20, 2012, at the family home she loved so much on Monhegan Island, Maine. She is survived by her husband, Dave Mitchell, DWU professor of business administration and economics, and her daughters and their families, Patti Duffy, Fort Pierre, and Nancy Mitchell, Philadelphia.


DWU announces 2014 Scotchman and Miss Wesleyan award-winners

Friday, April 25, 2014

Kelli Swenson and Trent Robbins, seniors at Dakota Wesleyan University, were named Miss Wesleyan and Scotchman, the university’s highest honors, at a special banquet Friday night at the university.

Kelli Swenson, of Chamberlain, is a double major in business administration and leadership and public service with a concentration in policy communication. She is the president of Student Senate, a member of the Student Ministry Council, a resident assistant on campus, and Student Ambassadors. She is a four-year member of the dean’s list, a Randall Scholar, 2013 recipient of the Vicki Clarke Memorial Endowed Scholarship, McGovern Center Scholar, and a member of the McGovern Advisory Council. She has organized and volunteered with DWU mission trips to New Orleans, Peru and Mexico, as well as community outreach projects. Kelli interns with DWU’s institutional advancement/alumni relations department. Following graduation, Kelli will be traveling to Africa for two months to work with a nonprofit and a primary school in Rwanda.  

Trent Robbins, of Watertown, is a double major in mathematics and business. He is a DWU Trustee Academic and Athletic Scholar and named to the dean’s list. He has been a member of the Dakota Wesleyan soccer team for four years, and served as team captain for one. He earned All-Great Plains Athletics Conference Honorable Mention, CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District Award, T.I.G.E.R.S. Award and was appointed to the Men’s Soccer Team Leadership Council. He volunteered with Chicago Eagles Summer Academy and Mitchell Youth Soccer. Trent also became an FAA Licensed Private Pilot in May 2013. Following graduation he will be employed by Meta Payment Systems in Sioux Falls.

Other candidates for Miss Wesleyan include: Breanna Clark, Loveland, Colo.; Valerie Hummel, Yankton; Natalie Munger, Kimball; Samantha Sandau, Tripp; and Kayla Summerville, Platte. Other candidates for the Scotchman include: Joe Ford, Vermillion; Chase Kristensen, Plankinton; and Tyler Sarringar, Pierre.

The titles of Scotchman and Miss Wesleyan are given to honor a senior male and female student based on campus leadership and service, community leadership and service, academics and character. The honor of Miss Wesleyan began in 1929 and the honor of Scotchman in 1938. The title for the Scotchman was borrowed from the university’s song, “The Scotchman.”


2014 winners of the Agnes Hyde Writing Contest announced

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The winners of this year’s Agnes Hyde Writing Contest at Dakota Wesleyan University have been announced.


First, “To Be, or Not To Be?” by Ashley Kingdon, Huron

Second, “Matter over Mind,” by Delayna Paulson, Mount Vernon

Third, Untitled (The tale of Lewis and Clark’s exploratory journey), by Jonathan Wieger, Waubay

Honorable Mentions: “The Step,” by Sarah Twibell, Orchard, Neb.; “A Life Stuck in the Autumn,” by Autumn Schmidt, White


First, “Madison, Neb.,” by Chris Gubbrud, Springfield

Second, “Ages of Red,” by Taylor Spence, North Branch, Minn.

Third, “After a News Report Stating:  Pony, Drunk on Fermented Apples, Drowns in a Swimming Pool,” by Chris Gubbrud, Springfield

Honorable Mention: “A Figment,” by Analisa Morel, Gilbert, Ariz.


First, “She & Him,” by Analisa Morel, Gilbert, Ariz.

Second, “The Other Parts,” by Amber Hiles, Woonsocket

Third, “The Deadly Cure,” by Taylor Spence, North Branch, Minn.

Honorable Mentions: “Fourth Grief,” by Emma Otterpohl, Mount Vernon; “Shakespeare,” by Amanda Dixon, Mitchell

The Agnes Hyde Writing Contest was founded in 1985 by Joe Ditta, English professor at DWU from 1983-2012) and its namesake was a 1924 Dakota Wesleyan alumna and English professor at DWU from 1946 to 1951.


Fifth annual Service Day set for Tuesday

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Students, staff and faculty will descend upon the land once again, armed with trash bags and gardening rakes, for Dakota Wesleyan University’s annual Service Day on Tuesday, April 29.

This is the fifth year that Dakota Wesleyan has organized Service Day – a morning when the entire campus comes together to perform community service projects on campus and around the entire community, including the Huron campus. At least 575 participants are signed up for the day, with another 29 volunteering on the Huron campus on Monday.

“Dakota Wesleyan’s values of ‘learning, leadership, faith and service’ are not a mere tagline, it is something that we incorporate into every aspect of our students’ education,” said Amy Novak, DWU president. “Through our coursework, mission experiences and community service we encourage students, who will be our future leaders, to constantly reach outside of themselves and into their community. Service Day was created around the time of our 125th anniversary as a thank you to the Mitchell community for its support spanning more than a century; it was immediately clear to us that this was going to become an annual tradition and a reminder of the value of the many partnerships we share between the university and the community.”

The first Service Day included about 400 DWU students, staff and faculty. Despite weather, finals week and the temptation of sleeping in, participation has been admirable each year, said Diana Goldammer, director of student life and Service Day co-coordinator.

“We’ve had overcast, rainy weather for Service Day and still the students show up in their blue Service Day T-shirts, ready to take it on,” Goldammer said. “Our wrestling team has picked up trash around Lake Mitchell every single year, even on the year when we had a downpour. They do it because they want to, because it means something to them.”

In fact, the DWU wrestling team officially “adopted” Ohlman Street along Lake Mitchell.

DWU senior Amanda Hart, of Alexandria, has participated in Service Day all four years and as a member of the women’s basketball team, she has benefited by the public support of the community throughout her athletic career and sees Service Day as a way to say thank you.

“Service Day is a great opportunity for DWU students to come together and help to improve our community, which does so much for us as students and the university as a whole throughout the year,” Hart said. “It’s our chance to give back and show Mitchell that we’re willing to help them the way they have helped us. There are very few experiences I’ve had in my four years at DWU as rewarding as the Service Days I’ve been able to take part in.”

About 1,000 man hours are projected to be spent in town on Tuesday, with project sites at: The Carnegie Resource Center, First United Methodist Church, the Abbott House, Dakota Discovery Museum, Cadwell Park, Lakeview Golf Course, Wild Oak Golf Course, the Pepsi-Cola Soccer Complex, YWCA, Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, Snack Pack Program, Area Community Theatre, Mitchell Area Safehouse, and trash pick-along Dry Run Creek, near Wal-mart and all around Lake Mitchell.

Students in the Arlene Gates Department of Nursing will split up into teams and work at Wesley Acres and Avera Brady Health and Rehab in Mitchell, and the education department will send groups to each of the elementary schools and middle school.

Following the volunteer projects, everyone will reconvene in the cafeteria and East Main Dining Room for an indoor picnic and video from last year’s Service Day.

The Tuesday before graduation was traditionally known as “Reading Day” before 2010, when Dakota Wesleyan established “Service Day” as a thank you to the community that has supported the university for more than a century.

*Photos of students were taken during 2013's Service Day, top photo: Mitchell Area Safehouse; bottom: Lake Mitchell


DWU’s Weins to release book on youth sexting; first of its kind

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jesse Weins, assistant professor of criminal justice and dean of the College of Leadership and Public Service at Dakota Wesleyan University, will publish a book based on his previously published and nationally recognized research on teen sexting.  It will be the first book-length secondary resource on this topic in the U.S.

“Sexting and Youth: A Multidisciplinary Examination of Research, Theory, and Law,” edited by Todd C. Hiestand and W. Jesse Weins, will be available in print in May from Carolina Academic Press.

Weins co-edited the project, as well as wrote the opening chapter. He was assisted in research and editing by DWU human services major Darin Bartscher, of Emery, and Sarah Owens, a 2013 graduate with a human services and criminal justice double major.

Weins first co-authored the journal article “Sexting, Statutes, and Saved by the Bell: Introducing a Lesser Juvenile Charge with an ‘Aggravating Factors’ Framework” in 2009 in the Tennessee Law Review with Hiestand, professor of criminal justice at MidAmerica Nazarene University. At the time, they were among the first in the nation to address the subject of teen sexting laws and legal responses.

“We felt this subject was in need of policy analysis because in the beginning, justice system workers had no guidance whatsoever for how to approach these cases,” Weins said.

“Sexting” is the term coined to describe sexualized texting – especially sending sexually explicit photos or videos via cellular phones. Taking such photos of minors is punishable by law, but four years ago states didn’t differentiate in their state codes between  minors and adults  under traditional child pornography laws. Weins and Hiestand made the argument for a lesser juvenile legal response appropriate to the behavior.

Since then, the subject has been up for much debate.

“Positive steps have been made in the last five years towards better responses for teen sexting,” Weins said. “But even now there is not uniformity in how to approach the topic, neither in law nor policy. It remains a challenging area, compounded by deeply held views about youth and sex and technology, which prevent agreements from person to person and place to place. Most people see the reason for legal intervention in some of these cases but not others. But they often disagree on what kinds of cases those are, what should be done, and how to approach communicating with youth. 

“At least half of the U.S. states have reviewed the question of law and policy, with nearly half the states passing some form of legislation either directly addressing the issue or amending their statutes to accommodate these situations in their present laws.”

In other Western nations like Canada and Australia, province by province decisions are being made.

Weins was eager to include students in the research process because he knows that hands-on experience is important in education.

“As a student, it’s helpful to see the research and publishing side of academia, since it demystifies the whole process,” he said. “Seeing this process and having that experience sheds light on scholastic work and higher education.  It’s helpful for faculty to include students, especially in topics like this where youth are involved, to get a different perspective, to get their take on it.”

DWU is a private, liberal arts university associated with the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church.  For more information about Dakota Wesleyan University and the criminal justice department, click here.


Spring music concerts set for remainder of semester at DWU

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Music’s in the air this spring, with four free concerts in the works through Dakota Wesleyan University’s Department of Music.

The Spring Concert will be at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 24, in the Sherman Center on campus. This concert is free and open to the public and features the Wesleyan University/Community Band, Wesleyan Brass, the Highlanders, Women’s Chamber Choir and the Singing Scotchmen.

Directors for this concert’s ensembles include: Brad Berens, band; Elizabeth Soladay, Wesleyan Brass; Dr. Clinton Desmond, Highlanders and Singing Scotchmen; and Erin Desmond, the Women’s Chamber Ensemble. Erin Desmond and DWU senior Lacey Reimnitz, of Corsica, will accompany the vocal ensembles on the piano.

“We have three more individual concerts coming up, but this is our last big department concert of the season and we hope everyone is able to come out and enjoy the pieces we have arranged,” said Dr. Clinton Desmond, DWU choral director.

The Singing Scotchmen, which is the university’s newly formed men’s a cappella group, will perform four pieces, including Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” and the Highlanders have three songs prepared with DWU senior Jenna Callies, of Mitchell, conducting “Linus and Lucy.” The Women’s Chamber Ensemble has five chart-toppers planned, everything from Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” to Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble,” to the 1958 classic, “Lollipop.” The band also has four pieces planned, including “Danny Boy” and “The Land of the Midnight Sun.”

“This concert is full of favorites and will prove to be a fun, free night out for the community,” Dr. Clinton Desmond said.

Music lovers will have three more opportunities to enjoy Dakota Wesleyan music before the semester closes.

The Spring Ring will be at 7 p.m., Sunday, April 27, at the First United Methodist Church in Mitchell. The program will feature DWU’s Wesleyan Bells, the First United Methodist Church Circuit Ringers, United Ringers from the United Church of Canistota, First Lutheran Church (Mitchell) Handbell Choir, and the Glorious Company chime ensemble from St. Martin’s Church in Alexandria.

May concerts include the Children’s Choir Concert at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 8, at the Mitchell First United Methodist Church, and LyricWood’s concert at 4 p.m., Sunday, May 4, in the Sherman Center on campus. These concerts are also free and open to the public.

DWU is a private, liberal arts university associated with the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church.  For more information about the Dakota Wesleyan University Department of Music, click here.


DWU's Online RN-B.S. Perfect Fit for ER Nurse

Friday, April 18, 2014

After considering several other nursing programs, Lindsay Merry, an emergency department nurse from Eagle, Colo., chose Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU).DWU Online RN-B.S. Student Lindsay Mary

“I decided DWU was a good fit for me,” she says. “The university has an outstanding reputation and is recognized throughout the country. The program also allowed me to work and gain experience in my field while pursuing my degree.”

Merry started with DWU’s associate degree LPN-RN plan of study in 2012 and was so impressed with the program and its structure she decided to go directly into the fully online RN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-B.S.). She is on track to complete her degree in October.

“The online program offers flexibility for those of us with children and families,” says the mother of a 5-year-old boy. “It allows you to study at your own pace, which is great when you work and have other obligations.”

“Wonderful” is the word she uses to describe DWU nursing faculty members. “Everyone responds in a timely manner to concerns and questions—typically within 24 hours. They are very encouraging and help push you in the right direction. You can tell the faculty are truly passionate about nursing and about the success of each student in the program.” 

Merry also appreciates the sense of community she feels—something she did not anticipate from an online program. When working on a group project, each person can offer suggestions and ask questions. When reading discussion posts, students can also respond and comment on the thoughts and ideas of their peers.

 “It is nice to have someone to correspond with when working on papers, projects and assignments. The group projects in the RN-B.S. program allow students to work together without physically being together.”

Merry appreciates the Christian aspect of her DWU nursing education. “Serving others rather than ourselves is a top priority,” she says. “It is exhibited in many ways by serving in the community, hospitals and other settings. The kindness and compassion shown by faculty and staff reflect the Christian values of the university.”

She also feels the program will open up career opportunities for her in the near future.

“Most of the curriculum is directly relevant to nursing and is career focused. With the RN-B.S. program, I hope to gain advancement in nursing skills along with leadership, competency and management.

“I’m impressed that the RN-B.S. can be completed in as little as 14 months. That makes it attainable for many who are looking to finish their completion degree.”

Learn more about DWU’s RN-B.S. program.

CategoriesBlog: Online Degrees @ DWU,

DWU junior named finalist for sales, marketing scholarship

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dakota Wesleyan University junior Jared Stearns is a finalist for the Sales and Marketing Executives Inc. scholarship competition which will be announced next week in Sioux Falls.

Stearns, of Canton, is an accounting major at DWU and learned about the opportunity during the fall semester when his professor, Monty Bohrer, brought it to his attention. Bohrer is an associate professor of business administration and economics and as the director of business graduate programs at DWU.

The award is based on academics, leadership and community service. The presentation of the award is April 22 in Sioux Falls, and awards range from $1,000-$3,000.

“I have held a couple of different leadership positions over the past year,” Stearns said. “I am a resident assistant and also serve as secretary for the Dakota Wesleyan Enactus chapter.”

Stearns has also worked as an accounting tutor for the past two years, as well as participated in DWU Service Day, Mitchell Weekend Snack Pack Program, New Student Orientation, and volunteered for the Special Olympics bowling tournament.

“During spring break I went on a mission trip to Omaha where I helped at a couple of different homeless shelters and served,” he said.

Stearns is the son of Craig and Lee Stearns, of Canton.


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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.
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