In 2013 Dakota Wesleyan embarked on the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the university’s history – to raise $40 million in seven years.
There were some who thought a campaign this great was going to be difficult to complete in seven years.
“People weren’t wrong in saying that this was an incredibly ambitious goal for an institution that has never fundraised for that high a sum in such a short period of time,” Novak said. “Which is why we’re so pleased to announce that we have achieved our goal – three years early.”
And with $1.5 million more than anticipated.
The “Greater Wesleyan” capital campaign met an early end for an ever greater beginning.
The university launched the “Greater Wesleyan” campaign in 2013, inspired by the 1913 presidential address by Dr. Samuel Kerfoot. DWU had just completed the opening of the new Science Hall in 1913 and Kerfoot called for “A Greater Wesleyan” as fundraising efforts were focused on a new athletic facility and support for student scholarships.
In 2013, on the heels of the dedication for the Glenda K. Corrigan Health Sciences Center, the newly inaugurated president, Dr. Amy Novak, approached board members about creating a “Greater Wesleyan” campaign, one with a similar primary goal: to build a new wellness center and indoor track.
The campaign brought in a total of $41.5 million in gifts and pledges which was transformed into $19 million in facilities with the DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex in 2016, the new DWU Black Box Theatre and the first phase of the Turchen Welcome Center this fall, as well as significant renovations to the Christian Athletic Center and the Rollins Campus Center, and $22.5 million invested in scholarships and endowments to support student achievement and additional faculty positions.
Dakota Wesleyan donors are people who see the power and impact of education in their communities and have responded to those stories, as well as the stories happening right here on campus.
“I love telling the Dakota Wesleyan story to anyone who will listen,” Novak said. “I love talking about these dedicated students – of every background imaginable – coming together right here in Mitchell, S.D., and sharing their culture, sharing their stories, sharing who they are with one another, and then graduating and making just as great an impression on their communities.”
The new facilities that have opened on campus over the course of the last decade and a half have transformed the landscape of Dakota Wesleyan into a 17-building campus with state-of-the-art science, wellness and theatre facilities. And with every new building comes new opportunities and an uptick in overall enrollment.
Without these buildings, Dakota Wesleyan might not have been able to offer all of the programs that are in such demand or serve all the students who wish to study them.
“I don’t want to consider where we would be without our new facilities and the investment many have made in the current ones,” Novak said. “And equally so, we would not be as strong today as we are currently without the amazing generosity of donors who wish to put funds toward student scholarships and endowments.”
Novak meets with as many graduating seniors as she can each year to learn about their Dakota Wesleyan experience.
“I’ve had students in all day for their mock interviews and four out of the seven are first-generation college students,” she said. “They are the first in their family to go to college and for some, scholarships were how that dream was realized, maybe the only way that could be realized. They know that complete strangers are investing in their futures, believing in their futures. They feel such pride, such gratitude.
“And they say to me that they hope someday they can give back in the same way that helped make it affordable for them to go to college.”
Kitty Allen, vice president for institutional advancement, believes that this cycle of giving is what fuels scholarships and endowments.
“I am proud to know that our alumni and friends are making a remarkable impact on the future of Dakota Wesleyan and our students,” Allen said. “Many give out of gratitude for how Dakota Wesleyan launched them into a lifetime of success or because of the value added to our community. We are honored to know that so many are excited about what is happening here.”
“I think that if you received a scholarship and it changed your ability to be in college, that has an unbelievably transformative impact on you,” Novak added. “And to be able to change the trajectory of a student’s life – one who might not otherwise be able to attend college – that is a gift to an entire family and an investment in their community.”
As far as how all of this was possible – Novak knows it’s entirely due to the people – alumni, donors, faculty, staff, and of course the students who represent the university with leadership and ingenuity.
“There have been countless individuals who have contributed to the success of this campaign,” Novak said. “From our advancement team to our athletic department, from the McGovern Center leadership to our faculty and staff, the commitment of our team to this vision has been nothing short of remarkable.
“It was particularly heartening to know that 100 percent of our faculty and staff contributed to this campaign. I believe their belief and vision for the university has significantly contributed to our momentum.”
And riding on the momentum of what has been a successful campaign, she isn’t afraid to look forward to what comes next.
“Some people are going to think it isn’t possible to complete another campaign in the next seven years,” she said. “But that’s what we do here. Education is the best investment I know for changing the trajectory of someone’s life, a community and our world. This is why, we can never stop in our pursuit of ‘A Greater Wesleyan.’ We want to continue to be a university deeply connected and committed to building the region for excellence. We are ever looking to Forward Wesleyan.”