Amy Novak, EdD

President of St. Ambrose University

Amy Novak, EdD, is the 14th president of St. Ambrose University.

Dr. Novak comes to St. Ambrose with a proven vision for the future of higher education. Her eight years of remarkable and innovative leadership at Dakota Wesleyan University in her native Mitchell, South Dakota, are documented in the 2019 book, "Pivot: A Vision for the New University."

Dr. Novak began her career in higher education at DWU in 2003 after working in the private sector as she, her husband Ken, and their growing family travelled the country and the world during Ken's career in the U.S. Air Force. The Novaks both are graduates of the University of Notre Dame.

amy novak with students

Contacting the President's Office

President's Office Staff

Jana Seutter, MBA '20, Senior Assistant
Jan Stafford, Executive Assistant

Schedule an Appointment with Dr. Novak
Please contact Jan Stafford by email or call 563-333-6213.

About the President


Dr. Amy Novak served as president of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, from June of 2013 to June 2021.

She previously served in multiple administrative roles at DWU, including as provost and executive vice president from 2008-2013; vice president for enrollment management; dean of enrollment management; and director of student support services.

During her presidential tenure, Novak increased aggregate university enrollment by more than 20%. There are 948 students enrolled in DWU's undergraduate, graduate and online programs.

Under Novak's leadership, DWU significantly broadened and expanded the student populations that it serves. Almost one-third of the 789 undergraduates are first-generation students and nearly 40% are low-income students.

Novak led two capital campaigns that raised nearly $60 million dollars, most of which supported building initiatives on DWU's Mitchell campus. A new School of Business, Innovation, and Leadership will open in fall 2021.

Early in her tenure, Novak spearheaded the university's efforts to launch its first online, hybrid, and graduate programs: an LPN-BS program; an MBA program; and a M.Ed. program.

Novak is the current president of the North American Association of United Methodist Schools, Colleges, and Universities. She also has served as the president of the South Dakota Foundation of Private Colleges; as the presidential representative to the NAIA council of presidents from the Great Plains Athletic Conference; and on the executive council of presidents for the NAIA.

Dr. Novak earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame: a master's degree in economics from Wright State University; and a doctoral degree in interdisciplinary leadership from Creighton University.

She was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and graduated from high school in Mitchell, where DWU is located.

Dr. Novak and her husband, Ken, are parents to eight children.

Ken Novak served in the Air Force for 10 years until he was medically retired with the rank of major. In the military, he served as a speech writer for the four-star general overseeing Air Force Operations in Europe and Turkey, and as a faculty member in the English department at the Air Force Academy, where he was named Teacher of the Year.

Ken Novak earned a Doctorate of English from the University of Ottawa, in Ottawa, Canada, a Master of English from the University of Dayton, and a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

The President's Office

Board of Trustees

Officers of the Board
Bishop Thomas Zinkula, JD, JCL - Chair of the Board and Bishop, The Diocese of Davenport
Rita Bawden '97 - Community Leader
Dr. Dan Broderick '82 - Neuroradiologist, Mayo Clinic Florida
Amy Novak, EdD - President, St. Ambrose University

Members of the Board
John Anderson '87 - President and Chief Executive Officer, Quad City Bank & Trust
Brian Bassier '91 - Vice President (CFO) and Treasurer, The Valley Group
Rita Bawden '97 - Community Leader
John Bear '88, '92 MBA - Vice President of Manufacturing, Nestle Purina PetCare Co.
Tom Berthel '74, '93 - Chief Executive Officer, Berthel Fisher & Company
Dr. Dan Broderick '82 - Neuroradiologist, Mayo Clinic Florida
Ed Carroll - Senior Partner, Lane & Waterman, LLP
Lisa Chavez '88 - Senior Vice President, Head of Tax Information Reporting Compliance, Wells Fargo Bank
Renee Citera '81 - Founder, RGC Consulting Services
Phil Doherty '78 - Retired SVP/General Manager and CFO, Chicago Tribune Media Group
James M. Field - Retired President, Agriculture & Turf Division - Americas, Australia and the Gobal Harvesting and Turf Platforms, Deere & Company
Jef Heckinger '70 - Attorney at Law, J.F. Heckinger, L.L.C.
Tom Higgins '67 - Co-Founder and Director, Prosetta Corporation
Barb Johnson - Community Leader
Mark Kilmer - President & CEO, The Republic Companies
Brian J. Lemek '86 - Owner/Managing Member, Lemek, LLC
Elizabeth F. Lemek '86 - Community Leader
Fr. Robert McAleer '67 - Retired Priest
Amy Novak, EdD - President, St. Ambrose University
Joseph R. O'Rourke '72 - Retired Secretary-Treasurer, O'Rourke Sales Co.
Caroline Ruhl - President and Co-Owner, Ruhl&Ruhl Realtors
Paul Sachs '76 - Managing Director, Protiviti, Inc.
Patricia Snyder '81 - Vice President Divisional Merchandise Manager, Wal-Mart
Bishop Thomas Zinkula, JD, JCL - Chair of the Board and Bishop, The Diocese of Davenport

Non-Voting Members 2021-2022
Fr. Chuck Adam, Priest Representative
Kaitlin Enright, President of Student Government Association
Thomas Mason IV ‘91, President of Alumni Association
Chase Neukam, President of Staff Assembly
Gradin Schroeder, President of Graduate Student Government Association
Dr. Jason Senjem, Chair of Faculty Assembly

President's Cabinet

sandySandra Cassady, PhD
Vice President, Strategic Initiatives
Sandra Cassady oversees the planning and development of new academic programs. A licensed physical therapist, Cassady joined the St. Ambrose faculty in 1994. She holds the rank of full professor, serves as dean of the College of Health and Human Services and oversees academic advising. Her prior administrative roles at St. Ambrose include serving as director of the Physical Therapy Department, associate dean of the college, and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. She serves on the Board of Directors of the United Way of the Quad Cities, and the Quality and Safety Committee of the Genesis Health System board.

Cassady earned a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Northern Iowa, and received her master's degree in physical therapy and doctoral degree in exercise science from the University of Iowa. Sandra and her husband, Ray, have a daughter, two sons, and two grandsons.

paulPaul Koch, PhD
Provost and Vice President, Academic and Student Affairs
Paul Koch began his St. Ambrose career as an assistant professor of psychology in 1988. He has since served as department chair, director of general education, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and associate vice president of academic affairs, assessment, and institutional research. In his role as vice president for academic and student affairs, Koch oversees the academic colleges, student services, the library, and several other academic areas. He is a member of the board of the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend and the Robert Young Center. He was elected in June 2019 to the Board fo the Higher Learning Commission.

He earned his bachelor's degree from Morningside College and his master's and doctoral degrees from Iowa State University. Paul and his wife, Sherree, have two daughters, a son, and eight grandchildren.

mikeMichael Poster '88
Vice President, Finance
Michael Poster is a Davenport native, who graduated from St. Ambrose University with a bachelor's degree in accounting in 1988. His professional career experience includes three years with KPMG and 17 years with McGladrey and Pullen, working primarily in assurance and financial management consulting. During this time he worked with numerous higher education clients.

Poster joined the administrative staff of St. Ambrose in 2008. He manages the general accounting, human resources, physical plant, student accounts, and information technology offices. He also oversees the compliance area, the university's bookstore operations (through Follett Higher Education Group), and the food service (through Sodexo). He is on the board of Family Resources and the Downtown Davenport Partnership, and serves as the chair of the finance committee for both organizations. Mike and his wife, Kelly, have a son and two daughters.

leshane saddlerLeShane Saddler
Vice President, Enrollment Management
LeShane Saddler comes to SAU from the University of California-San Diego where he was the Director of Undergraduate Admissions. His previous work was in admissions at his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, where he was associate director, assistant director, and an admissions counselor. Saddler's post-graduate education was at the University of Northern Iowa where he earned a Master of Arts in Education.

Prior to entering higher education admissions, Saddler taught at Iowa City West High School and then in his hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, at Waterloo East and West high schools. He was the head football coach at Waterloo East from 2001 through 2004. At Notre Dame, Saddler was a member of the Fighting Irish football team. He played in the defensive backfield under Coach Lou Holtz, including on the 1993 team that went 11-1 and finished a unanimous second in the national polls.

Saddler grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, and is the brother of Ryan Saddler '96, '06 MEdT, SAU's Associate Vice President for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Director of the Accessibility Resource Center. 

jimJames Stangle '82
Vice President, Advancement
James Stangle, a graduate of the Class of 1982, earned his bachelor's degree in business administration and mass communication from St. Ambrose. He began his professional career at his alma mater, serving as assistant director of development from 1982 to 1985. His subsequent career experience included serving in a variety of advancement roles for institutions such as Assumption High School, Marquette University, the Mayo Clinic, and Duke University's School of Medicine. Most recently, he was the vice president for institutional advancement at Notre Dame College Prep, Niles, Ill. Stangle returned to work at St. Ambrose in 2012. In his current role he manages the university's advancement activities, including capital campaigns, the annual fund, major gifts, planned giving, and alumni relations.

Stangle earned his master's degree in broadcast and electronic communication from Marquette University. He serves as a member of the United Way marketing committee.

Past Presidents

Rev. Aloysius Joseph Schulte, 1882-1891
Schulte was the first priest that Bishop McMullen ever ordained. After ordination, Schulte worked as a cathedral assistant for a few years before he was slated by McMullen to organize St. Ambrose College. The school had 40 high school students during the first year, and 85 students when he left. During Schulte's presidency, the central portion of Ambrose Hall with the tower was built, although Ambrose Hall was originally only two stories high. After leaving St. Ambrose college, Schulte took a pastorate in Iowa City.

Rev. John Thomas Aloysius Flannagan, 1891-1906
Flannagan was born in Haverville, Massachusetts, and was the second priest on faculty during Schulte's duration as president. While being president of the school, Flannagan's sister Editha ran the Immaculate Conception Academy. The two worked together on many events between schools together. Flannagan promoted boys choir and Latin on campus, and went to the Sacred Heart parish after his term as president. He died January 26, 1926.

Rev. William Shannahan, 1906-1915
Born February 2, 1870, Shannahan, referred to as "Big Bill," was raised in Williamsburg, Iowa. He was the college's first captain of the football team, and graduated from the institution in 1896. He worked in the philosophy department before taking his role as the third president. During his term, the east wing of Ambrose Hall was built, which contained an auditorium, classrooms, and living quarters. After leaving St. Ambrose, Shannahan pastored in Iowa City, until he was named Sacred Heart pastor and Vicar General of the Diocese of Davenport in 1932. He died October 22, 1937.

Rev. William Hannon, 1915-1926
William Hannon was born March 21, 1879. He graduated from St. Ambrose College in 1901. He was ordained in June of 1903 and taught English and history at the school from 1904 until 1912. In 1912 he was named vice president, which he served until 1915 when he took over the presidency. Hannon led the first endowment drive for $200,000, and oversaw the construction of the first gym.

Rev. Ulrich Hauber, 1926-1930
Born June 28, 1885 in Bavaria, Germany, Hauber graduated from St. Ambrose in 1905. After his ordination in 1908, Hauber joined the faculty, which he served as a member of for 48 years. A nationally known biologist, Hauber was the author of many textbooks, pamphlets and articles. At St. Ambrose College, Hauber was the chairman of the Division of Natural Sciences before becoming the fifth president. He died July 1, 1956, and was the first person to be laid to rest in the Chapel of Christ the King.

Rev. Martin Cone, 1930-1937
A Clinton, Iowa native, Cone was a social worker who taught social sciences at St. Ambrose for 16 years before becoming president. He is credited with building the faculty, taking over at a time when priests were paid $15 a month for teaching. Cone also instituted summer sessions on campus. After his presidency he was appointed to the Pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral, and Vicar General of the Diocese of Davenport.

Rev. Carl Meinberg, 1937-1940
Born January 11, 1889 in Keokuk, Iowa, Meinburg graduated from the college in 1911. He became a member of the St. Ambrose faculty after his ordination in 1914, holding a variety of positions on campus. In his early years, Meinburg served as the head of the library, and was also the director of the choir and the orchestra. He taught in the departments of religion and Spanish, and eventually became the head of the history department and the campus spiritual director before becoming the seventh president of the institution.

Rev. Ambrose Burke, 1940-1956
Ambrose Burke was an English scholar with a Yale doctorate. During his term as president, St. Ambrose built an administration building and Christ the King Chapel. Dealing with many issues surrounding the war, Burke was able to temporarily peak enrollment between 1500 and 1600 students. At one point, Burke also delivered a three-part series during the Catholic Hour on NBC entitled, "Sainthood, the Universal Vocation." He left St. Ambrose after being appointed to St. Mary's Parish in Clinton, Iowa.

Rev. William Collins, 1956-1963
Referred to as "Sailor Bill" since had served in the Navy, William Collins became St. Ambrose's ninth president. From Millersburg, Iowa, Collins graduated from St. Ambrose and had been at the college for 27 years before his appointment. He was chairman of the business and economics departments on campus before becoming president. Hoping to get the school back on track financially, Collins raised tuition and temporarily dropped the football program. During his term, East Hall (Rohlman) was constructed. Collins was active in the American Legion and helped found the Council of World Affairs.

Rev. Sebastian Menke, 1964-1973
Born December 21, 1910, Menke graduated from St. Ambrose in 1934. After his ordination in 1938, Menke returned to St. Ambrose and taught Latin, German, Greek, ancient history and astronomy on campus. He then became the rector for East Hall. Menke served as president during a time when struggles were high for private colleges. During his presidency, South Hall (Cosgrove), Hayes Hall, and the fine arts building were all constructed. After leaving the presidency Menke became the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish. He died April 21, 2002.

Dr. William Bakrow, 1973-1987
William Bakrow was born in Kansas, but moved to Rochester, New York when he was one-month old. He received a doctorate in public administration and education from Indiana University at Bloomingtom. He was given the friendly nickname of "Dollar Bill," since he wiped out a $2 million debt, doubled enrollment, and balanced the budget for eight consecutive years. Under his presidency St. Ambrose ventured into graduate studies with the MBA program. Bakrow was the first layperson to serve as chief operating office at St. Ambrose. He died March 17, 2005.

Dr. Edward Rogalski, 1987-2007
Edward Rogalski came to St. Ambrose as dean of students in 1968. From 1974 to 1980, Rogalski was St. Ambrose's vice president for administration, and from 1981 to 1986, the institution's senior vice president. He served as executive vice president at the time of his appointment to the presidency in 1987. During Rogalski's tenure the university increased total enrollment by more than 70 percent, added nearly 40 additional academic programs, conferred more than 11,000 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, and completed 15 new construction or major renovation capital projects totaling more than $67 million.

Sister Joan Lescinski '21 Hon, CSJ, PhD, 2007-2021

Sister Joan Lescinski served the final 14 years of a half-century-long career in Catholic higher education as president of St. Ambrose University. Under her leadership, St. Ambrose added dozens of new academic programs, seven new or renovated academic buildings, two additional residence halls, and 11 varsity sports with new and enhanced facilities. The 80,000 square foot Wellness and Recreation Center is the most prominent of those brick-and-mortar projects and the largest capital project in University history. Also during her tenure, the University endowment tripled while endowed academic scholarships more than doubled. Sister Joan is an English professor at heart, and she taught at every career stop, St. Ambrose included. She is a native of Albany, N.Y., where she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet at age 18 and earned her undergraduate degree in English and a master’s in English Literature from the College of St. Rose. Sister Joan came to St. Ambrose in 2007 after serving as president of St. Mary’s of the Woods College in Indiana from 1998-2007.


President Amy Novak

Office of the President
Ambrose Hall
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

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