President Novak announces new welcome center and theatre for Dakota Wesleyan University

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Dakota Wesleyan University announced to its campus community today its third building project in four years – a new theatre expansion will begin this fall.

DWU anticipates the groundbreaking of a new theatre as early as August, said DWU President Amy Novak. The new black box theatre will be built onto the existing Dakota Discovery Museum, which sits on the east side of campus and came under sole management of the university last year.

Within this project is a vision to create a welcome center for the university that complements the museum and tells the story of the university’s connection to the region and its history. The expansion will include 4,700 square feet dedicated to the theatre department with a multipurpose black box theatre seating for 100 to 125, makeup and dressing rooms, a classroom, and offices. The space is envisioned to offer opportunities for theatre performances, historical readings and Chautauquas, or other small group performances by students within the university’s College of Arts and Humanities.

The university has received significant gifts toward this project, but fundraising is not yet complete.

“We are so excited to make this announcement for the university and the expansion of the arts at Dakota Wesleyan,” Novak said. “This facility, attached to the museum, will provide us a unique opportunity to fuse the DWU arts with other cultural celebrations. Fundraising is still underway but we are ready to make this announcement and are optimistic that a groundbreaking will take place this fall, possibly as early as our opening convocation.”

The DWU Board of Trustees approved the project during its bi-annual meeting in early February and authorized the forward action of the planning and fundraising process.


Short film premiere by DWU alumnus set for Saturday

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

His film has been selected to appear in the Cannes Short Film Corner, which is organized by the Cannes Film Festival, and Mitchell is invited to see it first.

Chris Ferera, a 2012 Dakota Wesleyan alumnus, will premiere his short film, “Last Will,” at 3 p.m., Saturday, March 5, in Patten-Wing Theatre within Hughes Hall on campus. This screening is free and following will be a Q&A with the film’s producer, director and Ferera, who wrote and starred in the film.



Free poetry reading set for March 8

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Gary Dop, a poet, playwright and performer, will visit Dakota Wesleyan’s campus on Tuesday, March 8. He will give a poetry reading at 7 p.m. in Java City, which is free and open to the public.

Dop lives with his wife and three daughters in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where he is an English professor at Randolph College. Dop’s first book of poems, “Father, Child, Water,” was a bestselling poetry book with Red Hen Press in 2015. He was awarded the Great Plains Emerging Writer Prize in 2013, a special mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and his essays have aired on public radio’s All Things Considered. His work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, New Letters, North American Review, South Dakota Review, Agni, and Blackbird, among others.

DWU’s Kelly Henkel will open the reading Tuesday night for Dop. Henkel is a lifelong South Dakotan. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from South Dakota State University and earned a Master of Arts in library science online through the University of North Texas. Henkel works as the cataloging/serials librarian at the McGovern Library at DWU.  While she primarily writes and reads poetry for her own enjoyment, she has been published in Four Quarters to a Section, the South Dakota Poetry Society publication, the Oakwood, SDSU’s literary magazine, and DWU’s literary magazine – Prairie Winds.


Speakers announced for DWU’s Conference for Leadership, Innovation and Social Change

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Once again Dakota Wesleyan is inviting speakers to campus to discuss ideas and empower people to create change. The Conference for Leadership, Innovation and Social Change is set for Thursday, March 3.

The conference will take place from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Sherman Center at Dakota Wesleyan University and is free and open to the public. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. and conference organizers encourage all to pre-register here. Box lunches are also available for purchase only through pre-registration. To visit the official site for the conference, click here.

This year’s speaker lineup includes:

Dr. Charles Oundo, a Christian leadership trainer and motivational speaker, was licensed to preach the gospel in 1984 and ordained as a minister 1994. He is the founder of eight functional churches and is a mentor to pastors and young Christian leaders throughout Uganda. He is an educationist, psychologist and theologian, and senior pastor of Bugiri Christian Revival Church. Oundo founded and serves as executive chairman of Adonai Ministries International, a leadership training institute. He is married to his wife, Betty, and has 13 children, both biological and adopted. Oundo is an advocate for social justice and approaches change in his rural Ugandan village by empowering local people to engage their unique leadership skills to make a difference in the lives of others.




Alan Hirsch is the founding director of Forge Mission Training Network and currently co-leads Future Travelers, an innovative learning program helping megachurches become mission movements. Known for his innovative approach to mission, Hirsch is considered to be a thought leader and key mission strategist for churches across the Western world. He will also be the speaker at Wednesday night’s Mitchell Area Youth Night, March 2, in the Sherman Center, which begins at 6:30 p.m.




Drew Galbraith is in his 12th year at Dartmouth and moved into the role of senior associate athletics director for Peak Performance in 2011. As head of Dartmouth Peak Performance (DPII), he directs the academic, athletic and personal development programs for varsity athletes and coaches, in addition to overseeing the team of more than 40 DPII professionals.








Schedule for the day

9 to 9:30 a.m.: registration

9:30-10:15 a.m.: Dr. Charles Oundo

10:20-10:55 a.m.: Dialogue for Action

11 a.m. to noon: Alan Hirsch

Noon to 12:30 p.m.: Dialogue for Action

12:30 to 1 p.m.: Lunch (boxed lunches are available for pre-order)

1 p.m.: Drew Galbraith

1:45-2:15 p.m.: Dialogue for Action


For questions about the conference, contact Dan Churchwell, program coordinator for the McGovern Center, at


‘Women of Lockerbie’ to be performed next week at DWU

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dakota Wesleyan’s production of “Women of Lockerbie” is set for next week.

The small-ensemble play will be performed at 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 25-27, and at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 28, in the DWU-Equitem Theatre-in-the-Round within Hughes Hall on Dakota Wesleyan’s campus. Tickets are $5 general admission. Tickets for DWU students, staff and faculty are $2.


The production will be directed by DWU senior Madi Miller, a theatre major from Mitchell.


The play’s synopsis is: A mother from New Jersey roams the hills of Lockerbie, Scotland, looking for her son’s remains that were lost in the crash of Pan Am 103. She meets the women of Lockerbie, who are fighting the U.S. government to obtain the clothing of the victims found in the plane's wreckage. The women, determined to convert an act of hatred into an act of love, want to wash the clothes of the dead and return them to the victim’s families. “The Women of Lockerbie” is loosely inspired by a true story, although the characters and situations in the play are purely fictional. Written in the structure of a Greek tragedy, it is a poetic drama about the triumph of love over hate.


Wesleyan Band, LyricWood to perform this weekend

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Ron and Sheilah Gates Department of Music at Dakota Wesleyan University announces its winter instrumental concert for this weekend.

The Wesleyan Band and LyricWood Strings Ensemble will perform their winter concert at 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 21, in the Sherman Center on campus. This concert is free and open to the public.

The LyricWood full orchestra, under the direction of Elizabeth Soladay, director of strings, and Bethany Amundson, band director, will perform two pieces and the strings orchestra will perform two. The Wesleyan Band, under the direction of Amundson and DWU senior Abby Roseland, will perform four pieces. 


DWU’s Dr. Seuss Carnival to return for 18th year

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Dakota Wesleyan University Future Teachers’ Organization will host its 18th annual Dr. Seuss Carnival from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 5, in the L.B. Williams Commons Area.

A few new things this year will be a photo booth with Dr. Seuss accessories to pose with, several new games and Dr. Seuss reading stations.

“This event is mutually beneficial to the Mitchell community as well as the Dakota Wesleyan students who put it on,” said René Pruitt, associate professor of education. “Our education students are hard at work fundraising for the event and planning activities and generally each year we have non-education students volunteering to help, as well.”

Children from preschool through fifth grade are welcome to participate, and adults must accompany their children to the carnival. Children will have a chance to play several types of games and receive prizes, read different books, be read to by DWU students, and each child who participates in the festivities will receive a free book. Adults might like to bring a camera, because the Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2 will make the rounds and pose for photos.

“Each carnival provides exciting fun for area children while at the same time allows the DWU students an opportunity to serve their community,” Pruitt said. “In addition, the teacher candidates and other DWU students receive valuable experience in hosting a large event and managing hundreds of elementary children in just a few hours. That is real-world experience in a really fun atmosphere.” 


DWU sophomore Austin Buysse granted Evonik Cares Scholarship

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Dakota Wesleyan University sophomore Austin Buysse, of Minneota, Minn., was recently awarded the Evonik Cares Scholarship, which was given to four Minnesota college students whose families were affected by last year’s bird flu epidemic.

Buysse’s family owns a turkey farm in Minneota and were forced to destroy 70,000 turkeys when the virus was found in one of their barns. He said it took four to five months for his family to fully recover. Evonik Industries worked with Minnesota Turkey Growers Association to distribute emails to the Minnesota farms affected by the bird flu virus HPAI, and helped to select the winners. Evonik is a large corporation which, among many other things, manufactures amino acids for the animal nutrition industry.

Buysse is majoring in sports management and minoring in communications at DWU.

The $2,500 scholarship from Evonik Industries representative Gregg Veldman personally handed Buysse his certificate and award recently on campus.


Cast announced for DWU’s production of ‘Godspell’

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dakota Wesleyan University’s Department of Theatre has announced the cast for this spring’s musical, “Godspell.” 

The cast includes:

Jesus – Marian Ragels, freshman, theatre, Mitchell

John the Baptist/Judas – James Van Oort, 1999 DWU graduate, Mitchell

Nick – Ian Hyde, senior, theatre, Irvine, Calif.

Telly – Dyrani Clark, senior, digital media and design, Loveland, Colo.

George – Clinton Desmond, DWU choral director

Anna Maria – Rowan Byrd, freshman, theatre, White Lake

Lindsey – Alaina Bertsch, junior, theatre, Mitchell

Uzo – Ann Thury, junior, theatre, Parkston

Morgan – Kurt Schwarzenbart, junior, music, Salem

Celisse – Madi Miller, senior, theatre, Mitchell

DWU will perform “Godspell” April 8-10, and April 15-17, in the DWU Sherman Center. General admission tickets are $12 for community members, and $5 for Dakota Wesleyan staff, students and faculty with a DWU I.D.

The musical consists of a small group of people helping Jesus Christ tell different parables by using a wide variety of games, storytelling techniques, and hefty doses of comic timing.


Mitchell Area Youth Night set: Alan Hirsch to speak

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Alan Hirsch, the founding director of Forge Mission Training Network and the author of “The Forgotten Ways,” will be this spring’s Mitchell Area Youth Night speaker.

The Youth Night, sponsored by Dakota Wesleyan University’s Campus Ministry, is free and open to the public and will begin at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 2, in the Sherman Center on campus. This speaker’s message will be geared toward youth-audiences.

“Alan Hirsch is one of the most forward thinking Christian leaders in the world,” said DWU Campus Pastor Eric Van Meter. “He challenges his audiences to think big and act big, regardless of whether they are in a megachurch in California or a small but thriving community in South Dakota."

According to his biography, Hirsch currently co-leads Future Travelers, “an innovative learning program helping megachurches become mission movements.

For questions or more information, contact Van Meter at 605-995-2919, or by email at

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

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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.
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