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Introduction to DWU

Dear Parents and Family:
Welcome to Dakota Wesleyan University and to a rich educational tradition that stretches back to the earliest of days in South Dakota. For over 120 years, Dakota Wesleyan University has graduated thousands of men and women who have contributed significantly to state and regional development and to society at large. Together, the university, Mitchell, and central South Dakota provide uniquely rich resources that we hope our students take full advantage of during their time here.

Dakota Wesleyan University emphasizes student learning, leadership development, faith exploration, and service to others. Our students represent a wealth of backgrounds and experiences. We strive to provide wonderful living and learning opportunities for all of our students.

In the United Methodist tradition, Dakota Wesleyan University aspires to be a leading university that educates students to identify and develop their individual talents for successful lives in service to God and the common good.

This handbook is designed to familiarize you with the university’s resources and to assist with the transition students are about to make as they enter college. Please read this information, participate in Family Orientation and Family Weekend, and contact the campus life department if you have any questions.

Diana Goldammer
Director of Student Life

Vision Statement
Dakota Wesleyan University aspires to be a leading university that educates students to identify and develop their individual talents for successful lives in service to God and the common good.


We affirm the power of ideas, the pursuit of excellence, and a personal and collaborative approach to liberal arts education.

We promise you will have the opportunity to stretch your mind through unique opportunities and partnerships.

We promise you will continue your lifelong journey of self-discovery and growth at Dakota Wesleyan University.

We challenge our students, faculty, and staff to be leaders of character who will maximize their talents for the common good.

We promise you will have opportunities to be a leader, regardless of your personal interests.

We promise faculty and staff will be encouraged and supported in pursuing leadership positions on and off campus.

As a faith-affirming community, we embrace John Wesley's model of uniting knowledge, reason, and vital faith in curricular and co-curricular activities.

We promise spiritual development will be part of your education, in and out of the classroom.

We promise to help you develop a foundation for your lifelong spiritual growth.

We inspire and empower our students, faculty and staff to use their talents to serve God and humanity.

We promise you will have the opportunity to feel the joy, challenges and inspiration that come with serving others.

We promise that at the end of your education at Dakota Wesleyan University, you will know your best self and you will be prepared to use your gifts to change the world.

Dakota Wesleyan University – A Proud Heritage
Dakota was still a territory in 1885 when the Dakota Conference of the Methodist Church voted to establish Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell (known as Dakota University until Oct. 14, 1904). These pioneers had deep religious convictions about the education and future of their children. So they lived in houses of sod on the Dakota prairie as they forged ahead with their dream of building this institution of stone.

The founders of Dakota Wesleyan University envisioned an institution that epitomized the highest Christian thought and deed, and so adopted the motto, “Sacrifice or Service.” This is depicted in the collegiate seal of the altar, the ox and the plow – symbols for these concepts. To this day, those associated with DWU endeavor to carry out its mission of service to God and humanity.

Now, more than 120 years later, DWU is still committed to transforming the lives of students.

With fewer than 800 students, Dakota Wesleyan University has a reputation for caring and concern toward its students. The student-to-faculty ratio (14:1) allows our faculty to get to know each student on a personal basis, providing mentorship, guidance and professional collaboration as essential parts of the education process. Students come from the Midwest and other locations around the United States. DWU has also welcomed many international students, most recently from Curacaos, Brazil, Ireland, Venezuela and Canada.

An essential aspect of a Dakota Wesleyan University education is service. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in service projects in the community and around the state. Past projects have included serving meals at the Love Feast, an organization that provides free meals to less fortunate members of the community; building furniture for a Bosnian refugee family; working on a home for Habitat for Humanity; and collecting school supplies and books for needy children. Groups have participated in mission trips both in the United States and other countries.

McGovern LibraryDWU’s rich tradition of service enters the 21st century with the inauguration of the George and Eleanor McGovern Library and Center for Leadership and Public Service. The life and work of George McGovern-DWU class of 1946 and former professor of history at DWU-his wife Eleanor, epitomize this tradition of service. The McGovern Center for Leadership and Public Service creates a culture of service to the common good and provides educational programs on leadership and public service through a variety of curricular and co- curricular avenues, interwoven with many of DWU’s academic programs, including nursing, education and business. The McGovern Library houses the McGovern Archives and is a rich source of information and inspiration for those interested in public service, the alleviation of hunger and poverty, and political activism. The McGovern Library is also home to the campus bookstore, Java City coffee house and a 24 hour multimedia lab.

Dakota Wesleyan University
1200 W. University Ave
Mitchell, SD 57301
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Last updated: 6/21/11