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St. Ambrose Chooses New President

Saint Ambrose University

The president of a small university in South Dakota will become president of Saint Ambrose University in Davenport. Amy Novak, now the president of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, will succeed Sister Joan Lescinski who'll retire this summer after 14 years as president.

Novak says she's been impressed by what's going on at St. Ambrose.

"And impressed by the way they're looking at developing new programs that are really responding to the needs of the region, their efforts to be more learner-centric in some of their approaches to teaching, and alongside that I've always admired the leadership of Sister Joan."

Novak has led Dakota Wesleyan since 2013, and during her tenure it's experienced record enrollment growth, set fundraising records, updated campus facilities, formed regional business partnerships, and launched new academic programs. She's also been working with her faculty on how to improve their teaching.

"We know we've taught a certain way for a very long time and I think we're now in a place from a cognitive science or learning science perspective that invites us to ask is this the best way to teach or more fundamentally what is the best way students learn."

She first was hired in 2003 as a grant administrator, and since then has served as vice president and provost. Dakota Wesleyan is a private university with 948 students, founded in 1885, and affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

A national search began last summer after Lescinski announced her retirement. It was led by Thomas Zinkula, Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport and chair of the St. Ambrose Board of Trustees.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.