The DWU Board of Trustees invites nominations and applications for the position of the 21st President.
This presidency offers an exceptional opportunity to lead an institution on the cutting edge of innovation with a proud history and an outstanding reputation.
Building on the legacy of President Amy C. Novak, Ed.D., Dakota Wesleyan University’s 21st president will inherit a successful, effective institution with a compelling history and significant potential for the future. The university’s next president will be an entrepreneurial leader committed to thinking innovatively about the ways in which a private university can serve as an engine for creating opportunities and building community in the region that it serves.
Interested candidates must submit a letter of interest that addresses the leadership opportunity and attributes outlined in the leadership profile, a current resume, and the names of five professional references. References will not be contacted without prior authorization from the applicant.
For full consideration, applications should be received by August 27, 2021. The search committee will continue its work until an appointment is made. Application materials should be sent electronically via: DWUPresident@agbsearch.com. AGB Search is assisting Dakota Wesleyan University with this important search.
Click here to view the full Presidential Search Profile
Presidential Search Committee Members
Douglas Powers ’78
Douglas Powers is the business development director of Innovative Systems, a leading provider of integrated solutions for the telecommunications industry located in Mitchell. Powers earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business. He is a 1978 graduate of DWU and is chair of the DWU Board of Trustees.
Rita Johnson ’70
As one of the first female CEOs in her industry, Rita Johnson was at the forefront of bringing technology into the real estate industry, serving as president and CEO of several organizations. Johnson is a 1970 graduate of DWU. She currently serves as the vice-chair of the DWU Board of Trustees.
Bishop Bruce Ough '16
Bishop Bruce Ough is the current executive secretary of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church (UMC). He previously served as the resident bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota area of the UMC and formerly served as the resident bishop of the West Ohio area. Bishop Ough earned a Master of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1978. He is a 1973 graduate of North Dakota State University and is a member of the DWU Board of Trustees. In 2016, Bishop Ough was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity from DWU.
Dr. Myles Tieszen ’84
Dr. Myles Tieszen is an experienced general surgeon at Sanford Health and is the founder of Autism Residential Inc., a residential facility for individuals with severe, nonverbal autism. Dr. Tieszen previously served as the general surgeon with CHI Alegent Creighton Clinic in Omaha, Neb., and as an assistant clinical professor for the department of surgery at Creighton University School of Medicine. Dr. Tieszen completed his residency at Saginaw Cooperative Hospitals, Inc., attended medical school at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, and is a graduate of Dakota Wesleyan University. He is also a member of the DWU Board of Trustees.
Jacquelyn Johnson is the CEO and financial advisor for Dice Financial Services Group, a full-service agency with extensive experience in insurance, investments, retirement planning, estate planning, and employer benefits in Mitchell. Johnson is a certified financial planner and has earned securities, life, and health insurance licenses. She earned a master’s degree from the University of Kansas and a B.A. from the University of South Dakota. She serves as a member of the DWU Board of Trustees, the Abbott House Foundation, University of South Dakota Foundation Trustees, and the Jr. Achievement state and local boards.
Judge James Gritzner ’69
The Honorable James E. Gritzner is an Article III federal judge on senior status for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. Judge Gritzner joined the court in 2002 and became chief judge of the court in 2011. He served as chief judge until assuming senior status in 2015. He previously worked as an attorney in private practice from 1979 to 2002. Judge Gritzner graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with his master’s degree in 1974 and earned his J.D. degree from Drake University Law School in 1979. Judge Gritzner is a 1969 graduate of Dakota Wesleyan University and a DWU Board of Trustees member.
J. Leon Washington ’72
J. Leon Washington is the dean of enrollment management at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. During Washington’s impressive 43-year career in higher education, he has held various leadership roles as vice provost for admissions and financial aid at Lehigh University; assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and student academic support at the University of California, Davis; dean of admissions at Alma College; and director of admissions at Oberlin College – the first African-American to hold this position. He earned Master of Arts degrees from California State University-Hayward and Cambridge College. As a graduate of Dakota Wesleyan University, Washington received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2018. He is also a member of the DWU Board of Trustees.
Theresa Kriese is the executive vice president for Dakota Wesleyan University and recently assumed the role of interim president. Previously, Kriese served as vice president for business and finance and then vice president for business and advancement at DWU. Kriese served on the Mitchell Public School Board for two terms, the second as its president. She serves on the board of directors for Dakota Counseling Institute, Mitchell Community Scholarship Foundation, Holy Family Catholic Church, Mitchell Chamber of Commerce Planning Committee, Educational and Institutional Insurance Administrators property and casualty advisory board, and Mitchell Technical College’s radiologic technology, radiation therapy, and medical assistant advisory boards. Kriese earned an MBA from the University of Sioux Falls and earned a bachelor’s degree from Northern State University.
Dr. Ashley Digmann ’06
Dr. Ashley Digmann is the Education department chair at Dakota Wesleyan University and previously taught 7th-grade math/science at Hopson Middle School in Barrow, AK, and high school math at Aberdeen Central High School in Aberdeen, S.D. Dr. Digmann was awarded the Exemplary Teaching Award from DWU in 2015 and the Clarke Award for Teaching Excellence in 2016. She is a member of the South Dakota Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Council of Teachers in Mathematics, Sigma Zeta honor society, and is a local Phi Kappa Phi honor society member. She is also the chair of the IRB committee. Dr. Digmann earned a Doctor of Education in leadership from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and a Master of Arts in mathematics education from Chadron State College in Chadron, Neb. She earned her B.A. degree in secondary math education from DWU.
Dr. Bethany Melroe Lehrman
Dr. Bethany Melroe Lehrman is an associate professor of chemistry; dean of the Donna Starr Christen College of Healthcare, Fitness and Sciences; and CHAOS club’s faculty adviser at DWU. Dr. Melroe Lehrman recently received the 2021 Clarke Award for Teaching Excellence along with the Exemplary Teacher Award in 2017 and the Faculty Professional Excellence Award in 2015 from DWU. In fall 2015, she received a HOPES grant, which has allowed DWU students the opportunity to work with and teach science to fifth-graders from L.B. Williams Elementary in Mitchell. She is a member of many professional affiliations: American Chemical Society (ACS), ACS Division of Chemical Education, Phi Lambda Upsilon and Gamma Sigma Delta. Melroe Lehrman began teaching at DWU in 2011. She holds B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from South Dakota State University.
John Kippes is the Director of Student Life and Title IX Coordinator at Dakota Wesleyan University. Kippes previously held positions as Academic Success and Career Services Coordinator and TRIO Student Success Adviser/Tutoring Coordinator at DWU. Prior to DWU, Kippes held positions as Clinical Clerkship Coordinator at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa; and taught Social Studies and coached at Marion High School in Marion, S.D. Kippes earned a Master of Arts in Secondary Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of South Dakota.
Andrea Hult will be a junior at DWU this fall. Hult is a nonprofit administration major from Brookings, S.D. She is involved in Student Ministry Council, McGovern Engagement Group, and Women's Bible Study. Hult is also the junior class president and is a resident assistant on campus.
Presidential Search Committee Correspondence
June 2, 2021
The Presidential Search Committee held its second meeting on Thursday, May 27. At this meeting, the search committee reviewed and approved the search profile that will guide our search. The profile was prepared in collaboration with the DWU Marketing and Communications team and our AGB Search consultants and was informed by the virtual listening sessions hosted by AGB Search on April 7 and 8.
Please feel free to review the online profile at: https://www.dwu.edu/about-dwu/presidential-search
The Search Committee encourages you to suggest the names of those who might serve effectively as our new President, and share with others who might know of potential candidates. The success of our search depends on building a strong and diverse pool of applicants, and your suggestions and nominations are a key part of that effort.
The names and contact information for potential candidates and/or nominators may be sent to DWUPresident@agbsearch.com. You may also refer names directly to our search consultants Dr. Loren Anderson (Loren.Anderson@agbsearch.com) or Mr. Andrew Bowen (Andrew.Bowen@agbsearch.com).
The weeks of summer will be used to generate our candidate pool through nominations received from you and educational leaders across the country, a national program of targeted advertisements, and the work of our consultants. The Search Committee will begin the review of applications in late July, and in early September will narrow the candidate pool. Those candidates will be interviewed by the Search Committee in September, and we anticipate that finalists will visit campus in October.
Thank you for your support in the search process. We will send further updates following the July meeting of our Search Committee.
Board of Trustees Chair
May 17, 2021
Kriese appointed interim president at DWU
The Dakota Wesleyan University board of trustees has appointed executive vice president Theresa Kriese to serve as interim president following the departure of President Amy Novak this summer.
Kriese has served as executive vice president since 2013. Prior to that, she was vice president for business and advancement at DWU from 2012-2013, DWU’s vice president for business and finance from 2008-2012, vice president of administrative services at Mitchell Technical Institute from 1994-2007, and operations manager for Shopko Stores Inc. from 1985-1994. Kriese holds a bachelor’s degree from Northern State University and a master of business administration degree from the University of Sioux Falls.
During her tenure, Kriese has project managed the construction of five new facilities: a health and sciences building; a sports and wellness complex; a performing arts theatre; a student dormitory; and a school of business, innovation and leadership, as well as several major renovation projects and facilities updates.
Throughout her career, Kriese has overseen several administrative areas to include business operations, institutional advancement, information technology, enrollment and admissions, new program development, human resources, athletics and auxiliary operations. Under her leadership, faculty and staff giving has grown and board of trustees participation in the capital campaign reached a new level. New initiatives included a targeted recruitment system; a new budget and fiscal forecasting model; a campus master plan; and strategic planning processes. Under her leadership the university has maintained a balanced budget and increased operating capital, strengthening the university’s financial position.
DWU board of trustees president Doug Powers said, “We are pleased to appoint Theresa as the interim president as we embark on the search for DWU’s next leader. Theresa has the knowledge and ability to ensure that things continue to run smoothly, and we have confidence that she will direct university operations using her exceptional management skills, energy and enthusiasm.”
Kriese served on the Mitchell Public Board of Education for two terms, the second as its president. She currently serves as president of the board of directors for Dakota Counseling Institute, is a board member for Holy Family Catholic Church, member of the Educational and Institutional Insurance Administrators property and casualty advisory board and is a founding board member of the NAIA Multiple Employer Aggregation Program. She is a past president of the Mitchell Community Scholarship Fund board and a past member of the Mitchell Chamber of Commerce Planning Task Force.
She has also served as a financial consultant for other non-profit entities. The results of this work saved the client considerable financial resources and strengthened the endowment management allowing the entity to continue to meet the organizational mission and avoid closure. She has served as an adjunct faculty member and is a frequent guest lecturer on personal finance.
When asked about her goals for her interim presidency, she stated, “I will work hard to build on the momentum generated by Amy Novak and her team to position the university in a strong and healthy place for the next president. I look forward to working with the search committee to find the best candidate to lead DWU in the years to come.”
Kriese and her husband, Rick, live in Mitchell. They are the parents of two children and have three grandchildren.
In addition to her president’s responsibilities, she will work with the search committee and board of trustees as they conduct a nationwide search for the university’s 21st president.
April 13, 2021
The Presidential Search Committee held an organizational meeting on Thursday, April 8. At this meeting, the search committee reviewed the charge to the committee, adopted a schedule and timetable for the search, and spent time discussing the search profile that will guide the search, as well as the leadership qualities and experiences that will describe the successful candidate for the next president.
The search profile will be shaped and informed by the very productive listening sessions that were hosted last week by our AGB Search Consultants. Thank you to those who were able to attend. If you have additional suggestions or ideas, you may send them to our consultants, Dr. Loren Anderson <email@example.com>, and Andrew Bowen <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The search will officially launch in early May, and the weeks of May and June will focus on building the candidate pool. The Search Committee expects to conduct a round of initial interviews in early August, and to invite finalists for campus interviews in September.
The Search Committee understands that our search will be strengthened by the involvement and support of the university community. When the search goes public in May, we hope that you will review the search profile, and forward the names of potential candidates to our AGB Search consultants.
We thank you in advance for your support and your engagement in this important process.
DWU Board of Trustees Chair
March 19, 2021
I want to provide you with an update about progress in our presidential search. The Board of Trustees has selected AGB Search as our consultant. This firm is exclusively dedicated to higher education and we feel it is a good fit for us. You can learn more about them and their services here.
We are excited that AGB Search plans to conduct listening sessions with faculty, staff, students, trustees, alumni, and representatives from the community to learn as much as they can about Dakota Wesleyan and what members of the university community believe are the desirable characteristics, experiences, and capacities of our next president. These sessions will begin in April. I encourage you to talk amongst yourselves and begin to generate the types of questions or ideas you would like to share in a listening session.
This phase of the process will generate a presidential search profile describing the university, the presidential opportunity, and the desired experiences and abilities of the next president.
We are taking the first steps in what we know will be a thorough and comprehensive process. We will continue to provide you with periodic updates.
DWU Board of Trustees Chair
February 8, 2021
Dr. Amy Novak named president at St. Ambrose University
DWU President will close successful tenure in August
Dakota Wesleyan University President Amy C. Novak, Ed.D. was introduced today as the next president of St. Ambrose University, a private, Catholic institution of more than 3,000 students located in Davenport, Iowa.
Dr. Novak will remain president at DWU through July 2021 and will begin her tenure at St. Ambrose in early August, succeeding Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, Ph.D.
Doug Powers, chair of the DWU Board of Trustees, will convene with the board this week to begin a national search for the 21st president. The board will retain a national search firm to assist in the process.
“I hope you will join me, and all of the members of the Dakota Wesleyan Board of Trustees, in expressing our gratitude to President Novak for her outstanding service to DWU and in congratulating her on her new appointment,” Powers said in a message to the campus community.
“I sincerely hope St. Ambrose will benefit, as much as Dakota Wesleyan has, from her vision, dedication, and leadership. It is difficult to overstate the extraordinary and far-reaching impact President Novak’s leadership has had on Dakota Wesleyan University. By every measure, Dakota Wesleyan is a stronger institution than when she assumed the presidency eight short years ago. She has achieved everything the board has asked of her and more,” Powers said.
“Dr. Amy Novak brings proven presidential leadership to St. Ambrose University,” Bishop Zinkula said. “Innovative, articulate, energetic, and compassionate, Amy clearly has the requisite personal gifts and professional experience to shape the future of the university in a substantial manner. She has a passion for supporting students and actively engaging with the community, including business leaders. Her respect for the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and Catholic Social Teachings will be a tremendous asset. Amy will be an outstanding leader and she and her family will be a wonderful addition to the Quad Cities community,” he said.
A native South Dakotan and a graduate of Mitchell High School, Novak has served as president of DWU since April of 2013.
During Novak’s tenure, Dakota Wesleyan experienced record enrollment growth, surpassed all previous university fundraising records, made significant updates to the campus’ infrastructure, formed a variety of partnerships with businesses in the region, bolstered spiritual engagement on the campus, and launched a variety of innovative academic programs and initiatives.
The unprecedented success during Novak’s tenure led to DWU being profiled – along with a handful of other U.S. colleges and universities – in the 2019 book “Pivot: A Vision for the New University.”
“For the past 18 years, DWU has been my home,” Novak said. “My entire family has been immeasurably enriched and blessed by the friendships, by the work relationships, and by the boundless love and support extended to us by the entire university community. I am confident that DWU is in a strong position to attract and hire a capable, new leader prepared to build on the achievements of the past decade and equipped with the skills and vision to lead DWU forward into the years to come. Please know that I will continue to work diligently on behalf of the university, our faculty, our staff, our students, and the community in the months ahead,” she said.
Novak was appointed DWU president after serving as provost from 2007 to 2013, and vice president for enrollment management from 2004 to 2007. She joined the university in November 2003 as a grant administrator in the TRIO Student Support Services program.
Prior to joining DWU, she worked in a variety of roles while traveling with her husband, Ken, as he actively served 13 years in the U.S. Air Force.
Novak earned a Doctor of Education degree in Interdisciplinary Leadership from Creighton University in 2014, a Master of Science in Social and Applied Economics from Wright State University in 1997 and a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Notre Dame in 1993.
As president at Dakota Wesleyan, Novak led two capital campaigns raising over $50 million dollars. Much of this fundraising supported building initiatives on DWU’s Mitchell campus, including a 50,000-square-foot science center in 2013; a 90,000-square-foot sport and wellness complex in 2016; an alumni welcome center and performing arts space in 2017; and a new residence hall in 2018. A new School of Business, Innovation, and Leadership will open in fall 2021. Novak’s efforts also helped grow endowed support for student scholarships and endowed faculty positions.
In her leadership role, Novak has consistently sought to make higher education more responsive to the needs of students – particularly students from underserved populations such as first-generation students, students of color, and students from low-income backgrounds – as well as to the needs of the communities and regions that colleges and universities serve, particularly in rural regions of the U.S.
At DWU, Novak has been a consistent leader in exploring how technology can enhance the educational experience. In 2018, DWU implemented Digital DWU – a university-wide digital initiative to enhance the student learning experience by providing iPads to all full-time, residential students. This initiative has changed the way that students collaborate in and outside of the classroom and the nature of student assignments, with video and podcast assignments regularly replacing more traditional academic assessment measures.
“The DWU faculty are deeply appreciative of Dr. Novak’s vision and leadership in her roles as both provost and – for the past eight years – as president of Dakota Wesleyan University,” said DWU Provost Dr. Joseph Roidt.
“Despite facing an exceedingly challenging demographic environment, President Novak succeeded in growing and sustaining overall enrollment at the university during her presidential tenure. This growth was achieved, in no small part, through Dr. Novak’s innovative vision for higher education. Dr. Novak consistently challenged academic affairs to think innovatively about how higher education could be delivered differently and with greater impact in order to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse group of learners. She will be sincerely missed, but we are exceedingly grateful for having been the beneficiaries of her extraordinary vision and leadership,” Roidt said.
“Through a variety of university initiatives and her own tireless work ethic, President Novak has raised the profile of the university throughout the region and across the nation,” Powers said. “Put simply, President Novak has left an indelible imprint on Dakota Wesleyan for the foreseeable future, and we are all grateful beneficiaries of that imprint,” he said.
Novak said she and her family will carry Dakota Wesleyan University with them when they move on to a new adventure.
“Ken and I remain grateful for your friendships, humbled by our collaborative work together, wiser for the tremendous learning we have experienced, and truly better human beings because of the interactions and experiences we been so fortunate to share with each of you,” she said. “God’s guiding hand will continue to move Wesleyan forward. Its mission is too critical to not continue to serve as a guiding light for the region and beyond,” Novak said.
DWU is a private, liberal arts university associated with the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church, that is rooted in four values: lifelong learning, leadership development, faith exploration and genuine service to others. For more information about Dakota Wesleyan University, go to www.dwu.edu.
St. Ambrose University is a private Roman Catholic university in Davenport, Iowa established in 1882. It is affiliated with Roman Catholic university in Davenport, Iowa. For more information go to www.sau.edu.