Amy Novak, EdD

President-Elect of St. Ambrose University

Amy C. Novak, EdD, president of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, will be the 14th president of St. Ambrose University.

Read the Feb. 8 Announcement

Amy Novak Headshot

She was selected by the SAU Board of Trustees following a national search and will take office in early August 2021, succeeding Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD., who will retire after 14 years as the St. Ambrose president.

A native South Dakotan, Novak has served as president of DWU since April of 2013. During her tenure, Dakota Wesleyan experienced record enrollment growth, surpassed all university fundraising records, made significant updates to campus infrastructure, formed a variety of regional business partnerships, bolstered spiritual engagement on the campus, and launched a variety of innovative academic programs and initiatives.  Click here for full news release

Learn about Dakota Wesleyan University


Dr. Amy Novak has served as president of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, since June of 2013.

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, on April 20, 1971, 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 from 1990 through 2003, when 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 Doctor of English degree from the University of Ottawain Ottawa, Canada, a Master of English degree from the University of Dayton, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Timeline of SAU Presidents

Rev. Aloysius Joseph Schulte, 1882-1891
Rev. John Thomas Aloysius Flannagan, 1891-1906
Rev. William Shannahan, 1906-1915
Rev. William Hannon, 1915-1926
Rev. Ulrich Hauber, 1926-1930
Rev. Martin Cone, 1930-1937
Rev. Carl Meinberg, 1937-1940
Rev. Ambrose Burke, 1940-1956
Rev. William Collins, 1956-1963
Rev. Sebastian Menke, 1964-1973
Dr. William Bakrow, 1973-1987
Dr. Edward Rogalski, 1987-2007
Sr. Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, 2007-2021
Dr. Amy Novak, EdD, president-elect

Transition Timeline

January 24, 2020
Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, president of St. Ambrose University, announces to the Board of Trustees her intention to retire after 14 years as SAU president, effective August 2021.

February 7, 2020
St. Ambrose Trustee alumni John Anderson '87 and Renee Citera '81 appointed search committee co-chairs. Trustees Brian Bassier '91, Rita Bawden '97, Phil Doherty '78, Joe O'Rourke '72, Paul Sachs '76 and Kurt Tjaden appointed to search committee.

March 30, 2020
WittKieffer was hired on March 30, 2020 based on the recommendation from the Trustee members of the search committee.

August 25, 2020
Sister Joan officially announces her plan to retire and the Most Rev. Thomas Zinkula, Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport and Chair of the St.Ambrose Board of Trustees, unveils search plan along with search committee co-chairs John Anderson '87 and Renee Citera '81.

August 31, 2020
Bishop Zinkula announces the formation of a Presidential Search Committee to include Trustees Anderson, Citera,; Vice President for Finance Mike Poster '88, faculty members Marian Lee, PhD, Joe Miller, PhD, and Juleann Miller, PhD, staff member Merredyth McManus, alumnus Thomas Mason IV '91 and student Yazmeen Perez.

September 1-18, 2020
Search firm WittKieffer and Search Committee co-chairs and various committee representatives meet with SAU faculty, staff, students, alumni Diocesan priests, and community members to identify ideal profile of next SAU president.

October 2, 2020
Search profile posted at and

October 2020 - February 2021
Search committee reviewed applications, conducted interviews and made arecommendation to the Board of Trustees.

February 8, 2021
Dr. Amy Novak is introduced as the 14th president in St. Ambrose University history.

August 7, 2021
Amy Novak officially succeeds Sister Joan as university president.

St. Ambrose University Facts

Roman Catholic, Diocese of Davenport


Private, Catholic, comprehensive university grounded in the liberal arts

Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, (13th president)

Main campus is in Davenport, Iowa

Enrollment Fall 2020
Undergraduate: 2305
Graduate: 698

Economic Significance to the Quad Cities
Annual economic impact of $200 million
A top employer in the Quad Cities

St. Ambrose University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission,, 800-621-7440

Majors and Programs
More than 60 undergraduate majors, 14 master's, and 3 doctoral programs offered through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Health and Human Services.

High-Impact Practices
Internships, service learning, honors, research, and career readiness

Study Abroad
Fall and spring semesters, winter and May interim, and summer programs offered in more than 40 countries

Fighting Bees

31 Varsity Intercollegiate Programs

Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC)
Baseball, Men's and Women's Basketball, Men's and Women's Cross Country, Men's and Women's Golf, Men's and Women's Soccer, Softball, Men's and Women's Tennis, Men's and Women's Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field, Men's and Women's Volleyball

Athletic Band, Men's and Women's Bowling, Cheerleading,Dance, Esports, Men's and Women's Swimming & Diving

Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Midwest League

Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC)
Men's and Women's Lacrosse

Upcoming 2021-22
Winter Guard, Men's Wrestling

2019-20 Athletic Honor Roll
2 National Championships, 8 National appearances, 53 All-Conference, 25 Scholar Teams (leading the NAIA), 145 Scholar-Athletes, and more.

Dakota Wesleyan University Facts

The Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church


Main campus is in Mitchell, South Dakota

Enrollment 2020-2021
Undergraduate: 789
Graduate: 159

DWU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association,, 312-263-0456

Majors and Programs
There are 39 undergraduate majors and minors and four pre-professional programs, three master's programs, and two certificate programs offered through the colleges of Arts and Humanities, Healthcare, Fitness and Sciences, and Public Service and Leadership.

High-Impact Practices
Independent research, community-based learning, project-based learning, internships, clinical experience, faculty-guided research, mission work


15 Varsity Intercollegiate Programs

NAIA Great Plains Athletic Conference
Men's Baseball, Men's Football, Men's Wrestling, Men's and Women's Basketball, Men's and Women's Cross-Country Men's and Women's Golf, Men's and Women's Soccer, Men's and Women's Track and Field, Women's Softball, Women's Volleyball, Coed Cheer (club status)

Athletic Honor Roll
NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Institution - Gold (2020)


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