A small, United Methodist Church-affiliated institution in Mitchell, SD, Dakota Wesleyan University was founded in 1885 by Methodist settlers intent on bringing religious instruction and liberal arts education to their new home. Despite the hardships they endured, DWU was organized at great sacrifice by the people of the community, who judged the future university to be more important than present difficulties. That spirit has carried DWU through the Great Depression, wars, and huge changes to South Dakota. Today Dakota Wesleyan is ranked one of the best regional colleges in the Midwest by U.S. News and World Report and recognized by the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its commitment to the people of Mitchell.
As a Methodist university, DWU’s curriculum is built on fusing the traditional liberal arts to the most up-to- date technology and to age-old religious values and truths. DWU keeps enrollment low to preserve a 13:1 student:faculty ratio, which allows the university to provide students with the kind of personalized attention and mentorship students expect from a small liberal arts college. DWU makes use of the Clifton StrengthsFinder survey to help students determine the path that is right for them, and a 4-Year Guarantee ensures students that the curriculum is carefully designed to take only 4 years, unlike other colleges that stretch into 5 or 6 years to graduate.
DWU has spent over a century prioritizing the needs of the Dakotas, and shaping their curriculum to provide for those needs. DWU offers more than 40 majors and minors and a wide range of preprofessional programs. Teacher education and nursing are two of DWU’s strongest programs, with some of the strongest results – nursing and athletic training graduates have a 100% job placement, while 95% of DWU graduates applying to graduate school are accepted. DWU has also made outreach to working adults a new priority through online Master of Business Administration and Master of Arts in Education programs, fulfilling a need for students who cannot come to campus.
Student LifeDWU’s student life, with its roots in Methodist values, puts a strong emphasis on community service in Mitchell and beyond. All athletic teams, and all 30 of DWU’s organized student clubs and organizations, are expected to take on a community service project each semester, while the entire school takes part in a day of service, the Great Wesleyan Giveback. From professional organizations to entertainment and recreation clubs, every Wesleyan student performs community engagement, racking up thousands of hours of service each year.
Beyond service, DWU also offers a number of events and activities. Campus ministry, of course, is highly popular, with weekly worship services, special events, and groups for prayer and bible study. DWU also offers NAIA Division II varsity sports, with the Tigers playing 15 sports in the Great Plains Athletic Conference and recently named a Five-Star Champions of Character school. With a student body of less than 1,000 (just over 900), student participation in varsity athletics is in unusually high proportion.