DWU President Amy Novak stepping down to take on new role with Iowa college

Dakota Wesleyan University President Amy Novak is stepping down from her role after being tapped to become the new president of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.

Dakota Wesleyan University President Amy C. Novak will be stepping down from her role at DWU as she has been named the 14th president of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa beginning in August. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Dakota Wesleyan University President Amy Novak is stepping down from her role after being tapped to become the new president of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.

Novak was introduced as the 14th president of St. Ambrose University on Monday during a press conference at the Iowa college, according to a press release. Novak has served as DWU’s president since 2013. St. Ambrose University is a private catholic college with an enrollment of roughly 3,600.

"I am honored and humbled by this choice, and very excited to be part of the Ambrose community. I look forward to continuing to find ways to co-develop a strong future for the university and the many communities it serves," Novak said during Monday’s press conference.

Novak, a Mitchell native, first joined DWU in 2003 as a grant administrator and worked her way up through the years, serving as a provost before she was tapped to become DWU’s president in 2013.

Under Novak’s leadership, DWU steadily grew its enrollment to record highs and expanded with a new dorm on Mitchell’s campus. Novak helped raise $60 million to support the new school of business project that’s currently in the build out phase.


She currently holds a doctorate degree in education of interdisciplinary studies, which Novak earned through Creighton University in 2014.

"For the past 18 years, DWU has been my home," Novak said. "My entire family has been immeasurably enriched and blessed by the friendships, by the work relationships, and by the boundless love and support extended to us by the entire university community. I am confident that DWU is in a strong position to attract and hire a capable, new leader prepared to build on the achievements of the past decade and equipped with the skills and vision to lead DWU forward into the years to come. Please know that I will continue to work diligently on behalf of the university, our faculty, our staff, our students and the community in the months ahead."

Doug Power, chair of the DWU board of trustees, will convene with the board this week to begin a national search for the 21st president of the university. That board will retain a national search firm to assist in the process.

"I hope you will join me, and all of the members of the Dakota Wesleyan board of trustees, in expressing our gratitude to President Novak for her outstanding service to DWU and in congratulating her on her new appointment," Powers said.

Bishop Thomas Zinkula said Novak brings an established track record of success to her new post.

"Dr. Amy Novak brings proven presidential leadership to St. Ambrose University," Zinkula said. "Innovative, articulate, energetic and compassionate, Amy clearly has the requisite personal gifts and professional experience to shape the future of the university in a substantial manner. She has a passion for supporting students and actively engaging with the community, including business leaders. Her respect for the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and Catholic Social Teachings will be a tremendous asset. Amy will be an outstanding leader and she and her family will be a wonderful addition to the Quad Cities community."

Novak will remain president of DWU through July of 2021 and will begin her tenure at St. Ambrose in early August, succeeding Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, Ph.D.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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