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Dakota Wesleyan University President Amy Novak talks about the school's new wellness center during an announcement Thursday on DWU's campus in Mitchell. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

DWU wellness center money comes from 34 donors

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Dakota Wesleyan University received money from 34 donors to raise the $10 million needed to pay for a new two-story, 90,000-square-foot health and wellness center, according to DWU President Amy Novak.

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Novak announced last week that the school plans to break ground on the new facility this fall. In an interview Monday with The Daily Republic, Novak said the donors -- a mix of alumni and regional supporters -- have requested their names not be released until that groundbreaking.

"We are just thrilled," Novak said. "We feel really blessed by the generosity of our donors."

The new facility will include a 200-meter indoor track surrounding three multipurpose courts, 7,000 square feet of space for exercise equipment and fitness training, a wrestling room, locker rooms, additional space for strength and conditioning, and classrooms for seminars and leadership training. It will be located on the south side of Norway Avenue across from the school's current practice fields.

DWU Athletic Director Curt Hart said in an interview Monday that he contributed financially to the project. Hart declined to say how much he gave, but did say he was not one of the major donors.

Hart also declined to comment about the other donors involved in the project.

Hart said he and other members of the school's athletic department have been pushing for the project for several years.

"We've put in our time explaining our needs and what needs to be done," he said.

DWU intends to raise another $5 million to pay for renovations to the school's current athletic facility, the Christen Family Wellness Center, and for operating expenses.

"We will be seeking donors from our alumni base who have been interested and supportive of athletics in the past," Novak said.

Novak said Monday that the school hopes to accomplish that fundraising goal within the next two years. That's a conservative timeline, Novak said, given the unpredictability of fundraising.

"The nature of fundraising is that its all dependent on the donors," she said.

At this point, Novak said, the school does not plan to take on any debt to complete the project.

To further fund operating expenses, Novak said the school will begin charging students a $100 health and wellness fee next year.

Novak said the new health and wellness center will be open to the general public on a membership basis, but no details about the cost of those memberships has been determined.

Since 2003, DWU has spent at least $28.5 million on major building projects, including most recently the $11.5 million Glenda K. Corrigan Health Sciences Center, a 48,000-square-foot building that opened in August. DWU has an enrollment of 883 students.

"We have a donor base that's excited about the vision we've created," she said.

The completion of that project, which was funded in part by two $5 million donations, gave the school momentum as it moved forward with its plans for a new health and wellness center, Novak said.

"People saw the growth of the institution and saw they were investing in an institution on the move," Novak said.

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