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DWU choir, bells to set off for three-state tour out West

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell is bringing its best to four cities out West.

Four DWU choirs and the Wesleyan Bells will embark on a spring tour the end of February, making stops in Scottsbluff, Neb., Guernsey, Wyo., and Longmont and Brighton, Colo. The tour will conclude with a concert at the First United Methodist Church of Mitchell, S.D. These concerts are all free and open to the public.

“We love taking our show on the road and this will be an excellent way for the Dakota Wesleyan music department to reach out to other communities,” said Dr. Clinton Desmond, choral director at DWU. “We have several excited alumni who have helped us with tour planning and are inviting us into their churches and homes. Opportunities like this help DWU stay connected, and also allow us a chance to show people how much our program has grown.”

The schedule for the tour is as follows:
*Thursday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m., First United Methodist Church of Scottsbluff, Neb.
*Friday, Feb. 28, 9 a.m., Guernsey High School, Guernsey, Wyo.; 7 p.m., Hover Manor Independent Living, Longmont, Colo.
*Saturday, March 1, 7 p.m., Brighton United Methodist Church, Brighton, Colo.
*Sunday, March 2, 9:15 a.m., Brighton United Methodist Church
*Monday, March 3, 7 p.m., First United Methodist Church, Mitchell

The program will take approximately 90 minutes and consists of multiple pieces performed by the Wesleyan Choir, the Singing Scotchmen, the Women’s Chamber Choir, the Highlanders and the Wesleyan Bells.

Some of the pieces by the choir include: “Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal,” “With a Lily in Your Hand,” “What Wondrous Love Is This,” and a Hebrew love song, “Erev Shel Shoshanim.” The Bells will perform six pieces, including “Eye of the Tiger” and a “Super Mario Brothers” medley.

The Singing Scotchmen is Dakota Wesleyan’s new men’s choir, which will perform “The Morning Trumpet,” “Steal Away,” and “Free Fallin’.”

The Highlanders is the premier ensemble at DWU featuring students from many majors, selected by audition. They will perform selections from their recent performance at the winter convention of the South Dakota Chapter of the American Choral Director’s Assocation. These selections include “Soldier Boy,” by John Rutter; “La Bataglia Taliana,” by Matthias Werrecore,” and “Three Songs for Chorus a Cappella,” by Philip Glass.

The Women’s Choir will perform a cappella arrangements based on three recent pop hits, “Titanium,” “Landslide,” and “I Knew You Were Trouble.”

The DWU music and theatre departments are joining forces this March for the spring musical – “Les Miserables” will be performed at the end of the month on campus. For ticket information, please visit www.dwu.edu.


DWU invites community to African American religious music presentation

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Music transcends languages and represents cultures in unique ways, which is why during Black History Month, Dakota Wesleyan University in partnership with the South Dakota Humanities Council will present “Lift Every Voice and Sing!”

The lecture will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 18, in the Wagner Chapel at DWU. For those interested in learning more about African American religious music, this event is free and open to the public.

Joyce Jefferson and Jerry Wilske have researched the history of African American religious music from the time it was brought to the Americas to today. During the presentation, they explain the results of their research and conclude with the song brothers James Weldon and J. Rosamond Johnson wrote in 1900, “Lift Every Voice and Sing!”

“This song is still sung today with the same hope and fervor as it was four years after the 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, which ushered in ‘separate-but-equal’ Jim Crowism,” stated a release. “They share the evolution of music, race relations and the hope for today as expressed in the lyrics of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing!’”

This program is sponsored by DWU Multicultural Committee in honor of Black History Month and made possible by the South Dakota Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographies provided by the South Dakota Humanities Council:

Joyce Jefferson has pursued sharing South Dakota African American history, legacy and experience since 1998. She and a group called “It's About Time! The African American Experience,” launched the pictorial exhibition “Corporals, Cooks and Cowboys: African American Pioneers in the Black Hills,” with the Journey Museum.  Jefferson has researched and shared the stories of African Americans who lived in and around Dakota Territory and South Dakota primarily in Chautauqua style to enhance the learning experience.

Jerry Wilske, former executive director of the Oscar Micheaux Center in Gregory and long-time organizer of the annual Oscar Micheaux Book and Film Festival, promotes African American history and culture. Wilske has spoken throughout the Midwest and Canada on Oscar Micheaux and his works. He is currently a board member of the South Dakota African American History Museum. An accomplished musician and former music professor, Wilske, joins Jefferson to present “Lift Every Voice and Sing: the Evolution of Spirituals.”


DWU students named to dean’s list for fall

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The fall semester dean’s list at Dakota Wesleyan University includes 236 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

Armour – Lydia Ymker

Ashton – Shayna Frost

Baltic – Deborah Koopman, Glenn Scotting

Belle Fourche – Nathanial Collins

Big Stone City – Kayla Mielitz

Blunt – Macey Chambers

Box Elder – Lisa Stanley

Brandon – Kenneth Mattson

Britton – Jade Hoisington

Brookings – Lauren Fitts, Bailey Gummer, Katelynn Runge

Bruce – Jace Goodfellow

Burke – Jay Determan, Skyler Heyden

Canistota – Dylan Lynde, Alex Robertson, Trevor Schroeder

Canton – Abigail Fossum, Jessica Fossum, Kelsey Olson, Jared Stearns, Jasmin Vant

Cavour – Brent Matter

Chamberlain – Makenna Hancock, Kelli Swenson

Clear Lake – Eric Lundberg

Colome – Michael Rohde

Corsica – Cassie Bamberg, Angela Cleveland, Kris Menning, Lily Miiller, Lacey Reimnitz, Megan Reimnitz, Kayla Vanden Hoek

Crooks – Trae Bergh

Deadwood – Morgan Straub

Dell Rapids – Tanner Munk

Elk Point – Nicholas Hutcheson

Emery – Heidi Berg

Estelline – Daniel Mitchell

Ethan – Kira Stammer

Fedora – Cal Wiese

Garretson – Brady Mudder, Dustin Steckler, Patrick Whetham

Geddes – Shelby Steele

Harrisburg – Autumn Krueger, Rosalee Renken, Heather Willett, Heidi Willett

Hartford – Caleb Heiberger

Hill City – Pamela Getman

Howard – Jolee Drown, Andrew Schwader, Kelli Smith

Hurley – Celeste Beck

Huron – Stephanie Brock, Sara Hines

Iroquois – Shelby Matthews, Leah Wienbar

Kimball – Natalie Munger

Lake Andes – Kelsey Kniffen

Lesterville – Ashley Fischer

Letcher – Nadine Cota, Lindsey Miller, Lacey VanLaecken

Madison – Jessica Neises, Cody Warns, Kelsey Warns

Martin – Shawna Evans

Mellete – Landon Fischbach

Miller – Shaney Davis

Mitchell – Alaina Bertsch, Jenna Callies; Zachary Ciavarella, Kayla Geraets-Majercik, Jacob Habermann, Kimberly Heidinger, Krista Huber, Brittney Kaufmann, Serina Lesnar, Zachary Lippert, Dillon Miles, Madison-Ainsley Miller, Chelsea Moody, Nancy Mutziger, Christopher Nemec, Taylor Piper, Rachel Reichel, Jordan Reiner, Jenna Schmaltz, Joshua Schmitz, Emily Sudbeck, Marissa Tubbs, Briana Weiss, Theresa Wheeler

Mount Vernon – Jordan Adam, Emma Otterpohl, Delayna Paulson

Parkston – Erica Herrold, Samantha Mogck, Ann Thury, McKenzie Weidenbach

Pierre – Matthew Bader, Travis Moodie, Tyson Moodie, Jared Neilan, Dustin Paulsen, Tyler Sarringar

Plankinton – Kayla Collins, Erica Fett, Chase Kristensen, Elizabeth Morrison

Platte – Cheyenne Durant, Emily Olsen, Matthew Randall

Presho – Mara Eriksen, Skyler Eriksen, Stetsen Eriksen, Jaylen Uthe

Rapid City – Matthew Britt, Lindsey Corrin, Nicole Gleich, Jarrick Jensen, Eric Moller

Renner – Shelby Vosburg

Scotland – Aisha Abbink, Jaymie Barrett, Haley Brunke, Chelsea Raker, Lindsey Raker

Sioux Falls – Andrew DeVaney, Devinne Facile, Kristin Hendrickson, Chance Huber, Kimberly Johnson, Tiffany Johnston, Kylie Keiser, Ross Leonhardt, Dana Mutschelknaus, Rosa Nordstrom, Zachary Schneider, Maggie Stehly, Sarah Teeslink, Patrick Verley, Isaac Wheelock-Bouwman

South Shore – Jordan Buchholz

Stickney – Adam Bormann, Kyle Gerlach

Sturgis – Alexandra Kuehler

Tea – Andrew Becker

Tripp – Samantha Sandau

Tulare – Aimee Lenocker

Tyndall – Travis McDonald, Tara Ronke, Jennifer Sip, Jared Van Winkle

Vermillion – Hannah Ford

Volga – Tyson DeGroot, Danielle Van Kooten

Wagner – Talia Peters

Watertown – Trent Robbins, Nicholas Tschakert

Waubay – Jonathan Wieger

Wessington – Paige Mehling

Wessington Springs – Jordan Von Eye

Winner – Anthony Husher, Tyler Vavra

Woonsocket – Emily Olson, Stacy Treib

Yale – Lexy Timm

Yankton – Tiffany Fiechuk, Valerie Hummel


Out of State

Scottsdale Daniel Maman

Bakerfield – Colleen Hannum
Chula Vista – Alexandra Davis
Irvine – Ian Hyde
Monterey Park – Vanessa Mendez
Moss Beach – Cody Silveria
North Hollywood – Anthony Cervantes
Sacramento – Jennica Berry
San Francisco – Benjamin Ladner
Sanger – Nicholas Kinder
Temecula – Lindy Snook

Brighton – Tiffany Sharp
Grand Junction – Heather Banister
Loveland – Breanna Clark, Dyrani Clark

Windermere – Michael Claar

Driggs – Sean Riley
Tetonia – Braiden Jorgensen

Hawarden – Crystal Millikan
Sioux City – James O’Halloran

Adrian – Shea Klooster
Becker – Samantha Fluck
Dawson – Sarah Zaiser
Heron Lake – Alex Meyer
Kerkhoven – Jonah Johnson
Marshall – Brooke Louwagie
Red Lake Falls – Kyle Larson
Rochester – Bryce Berletic
Worthington – Cassandra Landgaard

Huson – Alecia VanTassel
Roundup – Marissa Soderberg

Blair – Adam Jahnel
Fordyce – Jonathon Kleinschmit
Gordon – Macy Piper
Holstein – Rachelle Steiner
Mead – Katherine Johnson
Naper – Jonathon Alford
Norfolk – Payton Baker
Papillion – Andrew Driscoll
Pierce – Kathryn Uttecht
Polk – Mackenzie Stevens

North Dakota
Bismarck – Emily Mizrahi
East Grand Forks – Darrin Hager
Jamestown – Sterling Hubbard
Surrey – Taylor Kuhn

Wernersville – Jacob Verry

Lakeview – April Barnett
Lantana – Jonathon Knight
Temple – Ryan Zdroik

Casper – John Fabrizius, Mercedes Madding
Cheyenne – Savannah Minder
Gillette – Alexis Wilde
Jackson – Christian Doyle

Other countries
Winnipeg – Jillian Dickson, Hailey Unger

Muscat – Thara Ali Said


Highlanders take to road for ‘spring’ tour

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Though the ice has yet to thaw and snow may be in the future, the Dakota Wesleyan Highlanders are set for their spring tour.

The Highlanders, DWU’s premier choral group, will hit the road for a three-day tour schedule Friday-Sunday with a special invitation to perform Friday during the South Dakota chapter of the American Choral Director’s Association’s Winter Convention in Rapid City. The following concerts during the tour are open to the public.

Kimball High School, 8:30 a.m., Friday, Jan. 24
Chamberlain High School, 12:15 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24
United Methodist Church of Belle Fourche, 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25
Hills View Evangelical Free Church of Piedmont, 10 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 26

The Highlanders were invited to be the featured collegiate choir at the South Dakota chapter of the American Choral Director’s Association’s Winter Convention in Rapid City on Friday, Jan. 24. They will perform a half-hour set called “All’s Fair in Love and War,” with themes of love and war by John Rutter, Mathias Werrecore, Matthew Harris, Gwyneth Walker, Philip Glass and Robert Shaw. This concert is not open to the public.

The following DWU students are Highlanders: Ryan Antaya, Plankinton; Jenna Callies, Mitchell; Dyrani Clark, Loveland, Colo.; Nate Collins, Belle Fourche; Sterling Hubbard, Jamestown, N.D.; Elizabeth Morrison, Mitchell; Lacey Reimnitz, Corsica; Kurt Schwarzenbart, Salem; Alex Smith, Kuna, Idaho; Lisa Stanley, Sturgis; Kelby Van Wyk, Alcester; Jasmin Vant, Canton; and Shelby Vosburg, Renner.


Mixed Blood Theatres to present ‘Dr. King’s Dream’ at DWU

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In celebration of Black History Month, Dakota Wesleyan University invites the community to attend Mixed Blood Theatre’s Dr. King’s Dream.

Mixed Blood Theatre is a Minneapolis-based touring multicultural theatre company founded in 1976.  The event is free and open to the public, and begins at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 5, in the East Main Dining Room in the Rollins Campus Center on DWU’s campus. This event is sponsored by DWU’s Multicultural Committee, TRiO Student Support Services, and the Student Life Department.

“Dr. King’s Dream” celebrates the life and career of Dr. Martin Luther King in this acclaimed production drawn from his own letters, sermons, books and speeches, including the timeless “I Have A Dream,” states a press release by Mixed Blood Theatre. “Shawn Hamilton’s commanding solo performance is stirring and poignant.”


DWU athletics Freezin’ for a Reason

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Several members of the Dakota Wesleyan University athletics department will be freezing – but for a very good reason – in February.

Tiger head football coach Ross Cimpl, wrestling coach Matt Sedivy and graduate assistant Kevin Kelly, track and field coach Pat Belling and sports information director Leah Rado are all taking part in the Special Olympics South Dakota’s Polar Plunge.

Cimpl, and potentially some of the DWU football players, Sedivy, Kelly and Rado will all be plunging on Saturday, Feb. 8, and Belling is raising money to help support the plunge as the Tigers have an indoor track meet in Storm Lake, Iowa, that day. Sedivy and Kelly are on the DWU Wrestling plunge team, and for the first $100 raised, Sedivy will plunge into the water, and if another $100 or more is raised, Kelly will also plunge. In order to plunge, each participant needs to raise at least $100, all of which goes directly to the Special Olympics South Dakota.

After raising $100, participants are allowed to plunge into a tank of water at 2 p.m. on Feb. 8 in the Blarney’s parking lot in Mitchell. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes or appropriate attire: Sedivy and Kelly will be plunging in DWU wrestling singlets.

Belling, Rado, Sedivy and Kelly all have pages set up on the Plunge’s website for supporters to donate to the cause. Donate to Belling here: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/PatrickBelling/2014-mitchell-polar-plunge

Sedivy and Kelly are signed up under DWU wrestling. Donate to the wrestling coaches’ cause here: http://www.firstgiving.com/team/254789

Donate to Rado here: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/LeahRado/2014-mitchell-polar-plunge

Cimpl and the football team do not have a page set up yet, so contact Cimpl at rocimpl@dwu.edu to donate. Donations can also be sent to each individual at the DWU athletic office.

Special Olympics South Dakota provides year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. 


Fusion: A story of pioneer spirit

Thursday, January 16, 2014

DWU campus pastor announces Fusion services to become separate church, will become full-time Fusion pastor

They came by horse, wagon and train – early missionaries set out west to bring a sense of the familiar to the prairie – planting churches and creating universities to foster their ideals.

Nearly 130 years later, that same pioneer spirit still thrives – just with a modern twist.

Brandon Vetter, campus pastor for Dakota Wesleyan University, announced Thursday that a church has been planted on the 129-year-old United Methodist campus. The weekly Fusion services, held on campus on Sundays in cooperation with the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) and The Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church, will become its own entity, separate from both university and the FUMC. This development is largely due to Vetter’s spiritual leadership on campus and his innovative approach to reaching out to the community, according to DWU President Amy Novak.

Dakota Wesleyan University’s campus ministry, knowingly or not, created a paradigm shift when the university – affiliated with the United Methodist Church and The Dakotas Conference – recommitted to the innovative spirit of the early Methodists by founding a new church community on the university campus.

“When I think of the early Methodist circuit riders who founded Dakota Wesleyan University with nothing but faith to guide and sustain them, I look at what Brandon and the FUMC have done here on campus, and I see that same pioneer spirit, reaching out to young people in an innovative way,” Novak said. “Fusion’s creation, and now its establishment as its own church, speaks to the ethos that founded us: ‘How do we bring the church to those who are unchurched?  And more importantly, how do we help others reconnect with Church?’  When we successfully do this, we begin to truly change our world.”

Vetter said that about 140 people attend Fusion services weekly, with only about 10-20 worshipers who cross over from the campus Thursday service – mostly students who assist with music. The majority are young families.

“Fusion is an opportunity for the United Methodist Church to reach a group of people who prefer a less traditional approach,” Vetter said. “We use pop culture, video clips, new music and a casual atmosphere to deliver the Gospel – those things won’t appeal to everyone, but they appeal to our congregation.”

Vetter also believes Fusion’s success is due to its location, Dakota Wesleyan’s campus being viewed as an approachable space to those who have never been to church before.

“Our philosophy is 100 percent in the teachings of the United Methodist Church and with a very open atmosphere – we want this to be a place where people are comfortable having questions – where faith and doubt can come together,” Vetter said. “If we have a niche, it’s that we appeal to those who are curious but uncertain, but we still minister to those strong in faith who prefer a less traditional approach. That less traditional approach is possibly what helps newcomers feel comfortable. It’s a synergy that works well for us.”

The concept of a university’s campus ministry planting a church is unique nationwide, Vetter said.

“To my knowledge, it’s never been done before,” he said. “The idea came a few years ago and just grew from there. Dakota Wesleyan and the FUMC and the Bishop of the Dakotas Conference have all been so supportive of this idea – the amount of freedom I have been given to experiment and just try it has been extraordinary. I’m not sure if there is another campus that would have let me do this.”

When beginning Fusion, Vetter wasn’t going in blind – he had been the campus minister at DWU for six years at the time and applied what he learned working with college students toward Fusion, which was created to reach the ever-growing population of teenagers through thirty-somethings who do not belong to a church. 

The official number of “unchurched” in America today – defined as someone who has not attended a church service in the past year – isn’t known. Warren Bird, Ph.D., research director at Leadership Network, with background as pastor and seminary professor and co-author of “Missing in America,” reported the number to be 33 percent in 2007 and in a blog post last year, estimated that number to be around 40 percent.

Dakota Wesleyan University has a nonmandatory weekly campus worship that attracts about 140 attendees, ironically the same number as Fusion. The worship service has grown by more than 100 worshipers in the eight years Vetter has been campus pastor.

Vetter graduated from Dakota Wesleyan in 2003 and Asbury Seminary in Kentucky in 2006, after which he put in a request of appointment for DWU’s opening for a campus minister. His first order of business was to move campus worship – of about 25-30 people – from the small Wagner Chapel, with a maximum capacity at about 50, to the Sherman Center, a venue that can hold up to 700.

“There was no room for the service to grow. They were maxing out at about 30 in a room that could never hold more than 50, so I requested a move and service has grown by at least 10 every year,” he said.

Patience is a virtue, and it certainly paid off; weekly worship has grown, as well as participation on the worship team and on mission trips. Just last spring, DWU took 49 staff and students to Peru and raised $80,000 to do it. In the eight years Vetter has been pastor, campus ministry has traveled to five different locations, taken 200 people on mission trips and raised more than $300,000 for mission work. A trip to Puerto Vallarta’s most desperate areas is scheduled for spring break of this year.

“Our students make this program a success,” Vetter said. “They are extraordinary in their enthusiasm and fundraising efforts. Their families are supportive, the community is supportive, and their experiences are memorable enough that they come back from these trips and get their friends involved. These are not vacations – these students work hard, for sometimes 12-hour days, but you don’t hear them complaining. Mission work puts life into perspective and everyone comes back appreciating that.”

The growth of the Fusion community is one of many initiatives on the DWU campus to inspire spiritual growth and development of its students.  In 2011, DWU launch a Christian Leadership major with emphasis in missions, church planting, and ministry. 

“DWU remains committed to encouraging young people to discern how God is calling them to serve, regardless of their academic interest or career aspiration,” Novak said. “By encouraging the dialogue of mind and soul, DWU hopes to encourage students to examine how their talents be used to transform our communities and our world.”

Valerie Hummel, of Yankton, is a senior at DWU double-majoring in religion and philosophy and psychology, with plans to join seminary following graduation. She has been on three mission trips through the college and helped organize the trip to New Orleans in 2012.

“Each mission trip that I have been involved with has taught me something different, and I appreciate each experience in different ways,” she said. “I have grown spiritually and personally through each trip, and I wouldn't trade those moments for the world. Learning more about the world and about yourself really changes your outlook on life.”

This year’s student ministry council chairman is Andrew DeVaney, of Sioux Falls. DeVaney came to campus and got involved with many activities on campus, including DWU football, and is the co-founder of the nonprofit Win/Give, which provides backpacks of school supplies to children in Third World countries.

“Campus ministry is an awesome group full of regular people who are allowing God to shape their lives to do awesome and extraordinary things,” DeVaney said. “Everyone on the team has a desire to make a difference at DWU in regard to helping grow in their faith and helping people come to know the loving and gracious Savior we have in Christ. Chapel is a great time to reflect, think and lay down worries and burdens that we have.”

Vetter will continue to be Dakota Wesleyan’s campus pastor and Fusion pastor through June and the university will begin a search for a new campus pastor within the next month.

“Brandon is and will always be a part of the Dakota Wesleyan family, and this transition will be hard for some of our students who have formed such a close relationship with him and his family, but I’m sure Brandon and Vicky will encourage a continuation of those relationships as they begin this new adventure,” Novak said. “Creating a church on campus makes history for DWU and it’s exciting for all of us. We’re going to make sure that our next campus pastor is equally as motivated, innovative and moved to reach out to the community. We will hire someone who relates to our student body and will continue to encourage the spiritual growth on this campus.  DWU is passionate about building the future church and we will continue to seek bold and innovative ways to reach people and honor the legacy of those who founded this institution.”

*For more information, please contact the DWU University Relations office at (605) 995-2613 or Mari Olson at maolson1@dwu.edu

Click here for a link to an article by The Daily Republic in Mitchell, published Friday, Jan. 17, 2014.


From Undergrad to University President, article from 'ND Today'

Thursday, January 16, 2014

By Cat Caracci ’14
Hannah Storm Journalism Intern

ND Today
Notre Dame alumni association e-newsletter

A trip to India sparked a career for Amy Novak ’93.

Through a Saint Mary’s College program there while a Notre Dame undergraduate, Novak had the opportunity to study the role of women in the developing world and how to empower them to be successful. 

“I came back from India compelled to find a career in which I could be part of a larger change and instrumental in helping people improve their livelihoods,” Novak said.

Since graduation, Novak has worked with mentally ill women, immigrants, and in corporate America. Now, as president of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, Novak still sees her job as one that improves the lives and futures of others.

“One of the joys of working at Dakota Wesleyan is that we serve a lot of first-generation, low-income students. Every day, I encounter students who didn’t think higher education was possible and are now going on to graduate, get jobs, and increase the overall economic mobility of themselves and of their families,” Novak said. “It’s a real privilege to be part of that process.”

I had the chance to talk recently with Novak about her new job—she was officially sworn in on Sept. 27—and her hopes for the future.

What does a typical day look like for you?

It’s different every day, and I appreciate the diversity. My responsibilities are split across four major areas.

I’m involved in the strategic direction of the university, so I spend time exploring our vision and how we’re executing on that vision. I’m also involved in community relations—looking at the role of the small private university in rural America and asking, “How can Dakota Wesleyan better support the economic development of our region?”

Fundraising for the university is another area. I spend quite a bit of time meeting with alumni and donors and friends of the university, getting to know them and learn how Dakota Wesleyan changed their lives.

The fourth area is my commitment to staying connected with our students, whether it’s meeting them for lunch, sitting in on Student Senate meetings, or gathering a small group of scholars to talk about how we might improve the university. For me, that is a pivotal part of my job—it is something I’m committed to and I’m able to be committed to at a small private institution.

How did Notre Dame prepare you for this position?

Notre Dame helped me develop strong communication skills and provided me with the ability to solve problems, innovate, research, and analyze. I’m a passionate advocate of the liberal arts, and those were skills I honed in philosophy, theology, and history classes. They were at the heart of my education and I certainly see their value in what I do today.

What are some of your goals for Dakota Wesleyan University?

We are working toward growing our enrollment. We are also striving to identify how we live out our faith commitment. We’re an institution of the United Methodist Church, but open to people of all denominations, so we want to develop our curriculum in a way that helps students appreciate their faith. We hope that Dakota Wesleyan students leave with a better sense of their spiritual selves and how that calls them to look at ways to live more justly and act with greater levels of compassion and mercy in the world. Finally, we have some projects related to capital infrastructure on our campus and we are seeking ways to strengthen our overall endowment so we can continue to support our mission of educating low-income, first-generation students.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I happen to be the mom of eight children. There’s a lot of discussion in our world today about balancing career and life, particularly for women, and I just think that there are new models of doing that. One of my greatest experiences, as I look back at Notre Dame, was that I learned to value family, and I learned how to balance my time.


Weins, Flynn collaborate on Bill of Rights entry for reference works

Friday, January 10, 2014

Two Dakota Wesleyan professors have collaborated on the “Bill of Rights” for a reference book which is now available.

“The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice,” published by Wiley-Blackwell, is now available through Wiley and Wal-Mart online.

Dr. Jesse Weins, assistant professor of criminal justice and dean of the College of Leadership and Public Service, and Dr. Sean Flynn, history professor, co-authored a 5,000-word entry for the reference work on the Bill of Rights, its origins and the legal descriptions of each of the first 10 amendments of the Constitution of the United States.

“The Bill of Rights remains an intricate part of American democracy, both as historical foundation and as contemporary legal instrument,” Weins said. “It was a treat to work with an established historian like Dr. Flynn.”

The encyclopedia, edited by Jay S. Albanese, is available online here and here.


Hart to gain valuable experience with GPAC internship

Friday, January 10, 2014

Amanda Hart wraps up her fourth and final season with the Dakota Wesleyan University women’s basketball team this spring, and she and her teammates have their sights set on a trip to the NAIA National Tournament in Sioux City, Iowa.

While basketball is wrapping up, the future is wide open career-wise for Hart, and she’s using her last few months of college to gain some real-world experience.

Hart, a DWU senior, is double-majoring in sports management and English, with a journalism emphasis. She started an internship with the Great Plains Athletic Conference and commissioner Corey Westra Monday, Jan. 6, and will continue to work with the league throughout the spring semester.

Hart, an Alexandria native, will work remotely from Mitchell to help Westra with the day-to-day operations of the conference. She will help write press releases for the league’s players of the week; update the GPAC website; load and update video from games in HUDL, the league’s basketball sharing system and assist with social media, including Twitter and Facebook. She will also assist with special projects and potentially help with new programming for special events and conference handbooks.

Westra said he is looking forward to working with Hart, who has already served as a virtual intern for the NAIA, and attended the NAIA National Convention in 2012.

Hart plans to graduate in May after four years at Dakota Wesleyan She has played on the basketball team all four seasons, and currently ranks eighth in the NAIA in total 3-pointers made (51). She also leads team in scoring at 11.9 points per game.


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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.
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