MITCHELL, SOUTH DAKOTA-- Amy Novak became the 20th president of Dakota Wesleyan University on Friday, September 27, 2013. Present at the inaugural ceremony were three past president: Rev. Dr. Don Messer, Dr. James Beddow,and Dr. Robert Duffet.
Rev. Greg Kroger, Director of Ministries, Dakotas Conference presented President Novak with the sermons of John Wesley and conducted "The Community Prayer of Investiture".
The following is an excerpt for the inaugural address of Amy Novak
Friends, it was before South Dakota was even a state that a pioneer band of Methodist circuit riders “dared everything and were deterred by nothing” as they ventured into the rugged undeveloped landscape of central South Dakota with a commitment to bring Christian education to “those who might otherwise be unable” to afford an education. For the early Methodists, nothing garnered higher priority than the development of schools, since education “opened” minds and souls. Through this “awakening,” lives would be changed, communities strengthened, economies revived, and our world transformed to something greater.
In the Gospel, Saint Mark tells a powerful story of a deaf man brought to Jesus near the Sea of Galilee. The deaf man had a severe speech impediment and his friends begged Jesus to lay his hand on him. Jesus took the man aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears. Then, Jesus spat and touched his tongue. Looking up to Heaven, Jesus prayed and said to the deaf man, “Ephphatha” – that is “Be opened.” Immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released and he spoke plainly.
Ephphatha – be opened.
The power and spirit of Ephphatha inspired our early Methodists who recognized the powerful transformation possible through education. With boldness, they opened this university on the prairie to women, to American Indians, to the poor, the downtrodden, and arguably the deaf, not just those deaf in a sensory way, but those whose hearts were deaf to God’s call.
By taking the dirt of the earth and building a school of stone, these founders believed the ears, eyes and minds could be opened to Christ’s call for each of them. Through education, these future leaders could become Christ’s voice of love, Christ’s hands of compassion, and Christ’s feet of mercy to a wounded world.
“Be Opened” describes our aspiration for a DWU education today. At the intersection of our Christ-centered, entrepreneurial university lays a passion for clarifying the relevancy and richness of the humanities, a discovery of the beauty and complexity of the sciences with an intentional integration of our Christian obligation to service and justice. A 21st-century education at DWU goes beyond skills training and book learning. DWU is moving boldly forward to educate and develop bold, innovative, principle-centered, Christian leaders.