Bazetta native enjoys career in higher education
BAZETTA — Township native Dan Kittle said his upbringing and the education he received at Lakeview High School helped him land his new job as president of Dakota Wesleyan University in South Dakota.
The 1994 Lakeview graduate said he entered college to study public relations and wanted to work for a nonprofit, but in his sophomore year, he worked with the dean of students at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, where he earned his bachelor’s degree.
“He was an inspirational mentor for me, and I wanted to one day be a dean of students. I spent the next decade working toward that goal,” Kittle said.
Kittle went on to graduate from Michigan State and then worked at Wartburg College for 16 years in several positions before becoming dean of students / vice president for student life advocating for students.
“I loved the work. It was very meaningful. I did a lot of work in strategic planning and other duties being like a bridge builder with the board of trustees. Someone told me that is the work a university president does. I felt this was something I could contribute,” Kittle said.
He said after additional training, he received a call in March asking if he was interested in serving as a president at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota.
“For people who have traveled west, they may know the Corn Palace, which gets a half million people every year, is in Mitchell where the university is. There are about 16,000 to 17,000 people who live there. Because of that landmark, we get a lot of visitors,” he said.
Kittle received his bachelor’s degree in public relations and political science at Heidelberg University, a master’s degree in political science at Michigan State, and doctorate in higher adult learning at Michigan State.
“Being a university president is the kind of role you have to be called to. It is more than a job. It is a lifestyle of who you are and the values of the university. You are never really off duty,” he said.
Kittle said the university’s values are learning, leadership, faith and service, which he says mirror his own values.
He said the university has about 1,000 students who are offered a wide array of service opportunities.
“The university is very innovative and focused on a strong sense of mission,” Kittle said.
He said as president, he is working with other university officials on strategic planning, student opportunities, community building and innovation through a campaign to support students.
Kittle said his time at Lakeview High School was a great experience, and many teachers, his parents, Gary and Jean Kittle, and neighborhood parents had a positive impact on him.
“What my parents and this community gave me was unconditional love, which led to courage to pursue difficult tasks. It left an imprint on me,” he said.
Kittle said his parents were a significant part of that.
Kittle, his wife, Ashley, and son, Grant, enjoy traveling. He also likes to play basketball.
At Lakeview, Kittle was in the band and part of Buckeye Boys State.
“I met many of my close friends in band and Buckeye Boys State. It was through this I began to learn about leadership and serving communities. Buckeye Boys State was a very eye-opening experience,” he said.
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