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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. 


Why Choose DWU for Online Learning?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

You have many options when pursuing your degree online. Here are 10 reasons you should choose Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU) for your fully online Master of Business Administration and RN-Bachelor of Science nursing degree:

  1. High-touch support: From the time you first connect with DWU to the day you earn your degree, you will have the support you need—when you need it—from our admissions staff to our Digital Learning Support Specialist.
  2. Timely orientation: Our orientation is offered three weeks before class starts so that all of your questions and concerns about online learning are out of the way, leaving you to focus on coursework from day one.
  3. Highly interactive: You will not be listening to pre-recorded lectures and taking online quizzes. Instead, learning is active—and interactive. You will participate in a lot of forum discussions.
  4. Timely feedback: When you submit an assignment you won’t feel like you are tossing your work into a black hole. Your professors will respond—with individual comments—in a timely fashion. Learning objectives are clear—and you will always know where you stand, grade-wise. 
  5. Community focused: You will often take your coursework and put it to work in the community through projects you propose—and execute.
  6. Responsive: We are small enough—and personal enough—that we will respond to your feedback, questions and concerns in 24 hours or less.
  7. Cohort learning: You will join a group of learners when you start your studies and move along through your program of study together. You can support one another—in the classroom, within the Digital Campus, and in life. 
  8. Relevant coursework: Your courses are designed for adult learners like you so that you gain the skills, leadership development and knowledge you need to excel in your career. 
  9. Access to information: Like our on-campus students, you can access all our library databases, from academic journals to videos. 
  10. Focus on your strengths: We use the Clifton StrengthsFinder, an online personality inventory, to highlight and develop your greatest talents so you can achieve academic, personal and professional success. 

Learn for yourself why DWU is the ideal place for you to pursue your online degree. If you are interested in our M.B.A. program, please register for one of our 30-minute M.B.A. Info Webinars. Prospective RN-B.S. students: Please contact us to request more information

Dr. Derek Driedger
Associate Dean of Digital Learning 
at Dakota Wesleyan University

CategoriesBlog: Online Degrees @ DWU,

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.


Introducing: “Online Degrees @ DWU” Blog

Friday, January 10, 2014

I am happy to introduce Dakota Wesleyan University’s new blog: “Online Degrees @ DWU.”
Here we will:

  • Share news and information about our new online programs;
  • Introduce you to our online faculty;
  • Share our student stories and their online learning experiences;
  • Answer your questions about our online programs; and
  • Address your concerns and help ease any anxiety you might have about online learning—or returning to school.

At DWU, we are excited about this online endeavor, which grew out of the accreditation process. When DWU was challenged to choose one new venture to deliver education in a different way, we knew offering online degrees was the route we wanted to go. We listened to the needs of our community and alumni in choosing to offer two fully online degree programs: The Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) and the RN-Bachelor of Science nursing degree (RN-B.S.)

Through these programs, busy adults can earn their degrees while juggling families and careers so that they can take on leadership roles with their current employer—or move on to new career opportunities. They will build on their previous education—and will even earn credit for their work experience. 

It has taken a tremendous team effort at DWU to bring these online degree offerings to fruition. In true DWU fashion, the team demonstrated how truly dedicated it is to enriching the student experience and making this transition as smooth as possible for students.

We are excited—about these new online degrees and about this blog. Through “Online Degrees @ DWU,” we want to engage in a conversation with you. If you have any questions or comments or just want to know what is going on at DWU in general, we invite you to share a comment. 

If you are interested in our M.B.A. in Strategic Leadership, I invite you to register for one of our 30-minute M.B.A. Info Webinars. If you are interested in our RN-B.S., please contact us to request more information

Dr. Derek Driedger, Associate Dean of Digital Learning at Dakota Wesleyan University 

By Dr. Derek Driedger
Associate Dean of Digital Learning
at Dakota Wesleyan University

CategoriesBlog: Online Degrees @ DWU,

New spider named for Pierre area

Thursday, January 9, 2014

By David Rookhuyzen

Capital Journal


It’s one strand in web of possible discoveries.


While discovering a new species of spider in Pierre’s backyard is exciting in its own right, what that discovery means about potentially unknown animals is even more so.


Theridion pierre is the official name of a diminutive spider discovered by Brian Patrick, an arachnologist from Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell. He found it on the Fort Pierre National Grassland.


The millimeter-long arachnid was found by Patrick and several interns during two summers of research in 2011 and 2012. They used a variety of traps set out in different parts of the grassland.


Once he suspected that he was dealing with a new species, Patrick sent his findings to Harvard University arachnologist Herbert Levi for verification. Levi, a world expert on the Theridion family of spiders, confirmed the find and named the species for the grassland.


Their findings, along with another new species discovered in Utah, were published by Levi and Patrick in the Journal of Arachnology last fall.


While interesting, Patrick said finding a new species isn’t as uncommon as people think. New mammal and bird species are rare because their size makes it difficult to remain hidden. But spiders such as T. pierre are so small that, despite their abundance, they are easily overlooked. And scientists such as Patrick are discovering them left and right.


According to the World Spider Catalogue, maintained by Norman Platnick of the American Museum of Natural History, there are 44,540 species of spider in the world as of last week. There were only 36,000 species announced when Patrick started his work in the mid-2000s.


Patrick, who receives semiannual updates about that count, said Platnick noted this is the first time that more than 500 species have been announced in a six-month span.


The discovery of new beetle species might take place even faster, Patrick said.


That sounds like a lot, but experts believe only 10 percent of spider species, and indeed all animals on Earth in general, have been documented by humans so far, he said.


In short, that means there is more work to be done in South Dakota. Patrick is still sorting through all his finds from the grasslands, and said there is the possibility for up to five more new species that could be identified once all the research is done.


But that’s not all he found out there. Also caught in his traps were species whose find in South Dakota is the farthest west, east or north they’ve ever been documented.


Of course, that’s mainly because there has been little work done on the sparsely populated northern Great Plains, Patrick said. There is the real possibility that he is the only arachnologist working in the state, and for good reason.

“It’s not very sexy to work in South Dakota,” he said.


The big grants are usually given to study new species in places such as the rainforests of Borneo, where people expect to find hordes of new species. Patrick meanwhile is operating with several small grants – one from the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks is actually called the “Small Grant” – that covered his equipment expenses and payed an undergraduate researcher.


“I’m poor; I have to work in my backyard. Turns out my backyard is pretty fertile,” he said.


Another common misconception about the prairie is that it’s a two-dimensional environment, unlike rivers or forests where completely different creatures can live at different depths and heights. Patrick said in talking with colleagues he’s always found the prairie is comparatively rich in species.


“I always have more diversity in my grasslands than they do in their forests,” he said.


Patrick plans to finish recording his work from the grassland and turn his attention to other areas of the state. He’s interested in heading to the northeast part of South Dakota with its diverse ecosystem of wetlands, prairie and tree belts to see what spiders can be found there.


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