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May 2, 2012

Honorary doctorates, speaker announced for DWU’s 2012 Commencement

MITCHELL — Dakota Wesleyan University will celebrate commencement this weekend with a baccalaureate service and graduation, with honorary degrees bestowed upon a distinguished alumna and the bishop of the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Baccalaureate will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 5, at the Sherman Center on campus, and Commencement is set for 1 p.m. at the Corn Palace with 161 graduates.

Dan Duffy, class of 1983, will be the special speaker for Commencement and Dr. Vince Redder, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, will speak at Baccalaureate. An Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters will also be given to Lou Ora (Nelson) Busk Houk, class of 1951, and an Honorary Doctor of Divinity will be awarded to Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey of the Dakotas Conference during the Dakotas Annual Conference meeting in June.

Duffy, of Rapid City, graduated from DWU in 1983 and the University of South Dakota Law School in 1990.

He has led a varied and successful life from being a basketball player and coach in Ireland to assistant director of development at Dakota Wesleyan to a law clerk for Senior Judge Andrew W. Bogue at the South Dakota Federal District Court. He has been a partner in the Rapid City office of the Bangs, McCullen Law Firm since 1992, where he focuses his practice in the areas medical and healthcare malpractice, professional liability and general trial practice.

Duffy is listed in “Best Lawyers in America,” as well as Chambers USA, where he is listed as one of the top health litigation attorneys in South Dakota. He was inducted into the International Society of Barristers, and is also a member of the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys and the International Association of Defense Counsel. He is a member of the South Dakota Bar Association, as well as the South Dakota Defense Lawyers Association, and regularly speaks on matters related to litigation, discovery, and health law.

Duffy is a member of the DWU board of trustees. He and his wife, Karrie, have eight children.

Houk, a native of White Lake, graduated from Dakota Wesleyan in 1951 after completing the five-year nursing program. She is a beloved teacher and nurse who has served her students, patients and family with compassion and unwavering dedication.

She did postgraduate work in obstetrics at Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital in Jersey City, N.J., in 1952 and returned to Mitchell where she was the obstetrics supervisor and instructor at Methodist Hospital and the Methodist Hospital School of Nursing from 1952 until 1960.  She then spent 19 years away from the profession, during which time she and her husband, Robert Busk, raised their three children.  She returned to her nursing career in the obstetrics department of Methodist Hospital in 1979, and she remained there until her retirement in 1989.  In 1985, her husband passed away.

A few years later, she married Bill Houk, a popular biology professor at DWU. In their retirement, they traveled to 49 states, becoming unofficial Wesleyan ambassadors as they visited alumni and friends around the country.  In 2006, Bill Houk passed away.

She has served for many years as the class agent for the Class of 1951 by contacting her classmates with news of the university and urging their support.  She is a faithful member of the John Wesley Society, and is a member of the DWU Heritage Roll of Honor.  he was named the Fan of the Year by the Tiger basketball program in 2010.  She has also supported the Methodist Hospital School of Nursing by being an active organizer of alumni reunions each June.

In addition to her service to the college, Houk has served her community and church.  She has been a board member at Wesley Acres and has been an active member of Mitchell First United Methodist Church.  She has participated in many committees, been a Sunday school teacher, and has been involved with the United Methodist Women at local, district and state levels.  She has also volunteered for the YWCA, 4-H and the Boy Scouts.

She is also one of nearly 30 relatives of the Nelson, Busk and Houk families who have attended DWU, beginning in the 1920s.

Kiesey, is a native of Sioux City, Iowa, and graduated from Morningside College with majors in religion and piano performance.  She first felt a calling to the ministry while a student at Boston University School of Theology, where she earned her Master of Divinity degree in 1976.

Ordained a deacon in 1974 and an elder in 1977, Deb served several churches in the Iowa Annual Conference.  She was selected to serve as a delegate to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1988, and was the first elected clergy from the Iowa Annual Conference in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004.  She served on the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women from 1992 to 2000.  In 2001, she was appointed to the Waterloo District and served there until 2004.

That year, she was elected to the episcopacy and became the Bishop of the Dakotas Conference.  As the first female leader of United Methodism in the Dakotas, Deb has blazed a new path of leadership and compassion.  She has been a strong leader in encouraging women in ministry and leadership. She has a great passion for peace and justice ministries, as well as ministry with those who face physical challenges.

Kiesey has been on the faculty of the Licensing School at the University of Dubuque, and she has taught both administration and preaching at the Iowa School of Lay Ministry. She is also a member of the General Board of Church and Society and at the Iowa Wesleyan College and Morningside College. She just completed eight years as a member of the Dakota Wesleyan University Board of Trustees.  In 2004, her alma mater, Morningside College, named her the Outstanding Alumna of the Year.

Kiesey and husband, D. Bradley Kiesey, have two adult sons.


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