OLIVIA FOSTER, TRUMPET EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
The impact of his Wartburg College colleagues will be something Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Life Daniel Kittle takes with him when he leaves in March.
In November, the news was announced that Kittle will move to South Dakota to serve as president of Dakota Wesleyan University.
“The more I learned about the opportunity at Dakota Wesleyan, the more I felt pulled in that direction based on the character of the institution and the kinds of things they need right now,” said Kittle. “I felt like I could be of service.”
Dakota Wesleyan is in Mitchell, South Dakota and has a student population of 948. Comparatively, Wartburg enrolls 1,543 students.
Kittle has served the Wartburg community for 16 years in various roles. When he started working at the college, Kittle was the Community Partnerships and Service Coordinator. He has also served as Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives and Director for the Center of Community Engagement.
Jo Dorrance, the internship coordinator at Wartburg, started working on the same day as Kittle.
“When we started on day one, our boss who hired us, his wife was sick, so he wasn’t here,” said Dorrance. “So we sent him a picture of us kicking back, like, we’re getting into the role perfectly. Since that day, I have gotten to know Dan really well.”
During the 16 years that she’s known him, Dorrance has enjoyed spending time with Kittle’s family, including his wife, Ashley, and son, Grant, especially when she can cook one of Kittle’s favorite foods.
“[Kittle] mentioned to me that one of the things other people didn’t like but he loved because his mother cooked it for him growing up was liver and onions,” said Dorrance. “My mother would also make that for me, so I said that I would make him some and that became a yearly tradition.”
Dorrance’s nostalgia was echoed by Lindsay Leonard, the assistant dean of students at Wartburg, who has also worked closely with Kittle.
“I’m going to miss our doorway talks where he will pop his head into my office when he has an idea,” said Leonard. “He’s been such a good mentor over the years and one of my greatest sadnesses with him leaving is that I know I have much more to learn from him.”
When reflecting on her favorite memories of Kittle, one of his habits stood out.
“When he’s feeling creative or thinking of new projects, he often grabs a tennis ball and bounces it around and walks around his office,” said Leonard. “When you hear the tennis ball, you know Dean Kittle’s thinking of some new idea and that was always fun.”
When Kittle has looked back on his time at Wartburg, his colleagues stand out as an impactful part of his experience.
“I’ve known many of my colleagues for well over a decade, and they have become my friends and we have worked toward meaningful goals together,” said Kittle. “There’s this deep commitment, I think, by a lot of people to this college, and it’s made my time here incredibly meaningful.”
Serving others and the community is something that Kittle loved about Wartburg and will carry with him into the future.
“Going on a service trip with 90 students to do Hurricane Katrina relief and playing a role in the 2008 flood recovery efforts are some of my favorite memories of Wartburg. They will stick with me even after I leave,” said Kittle.
Moving to South Dakota and becoming president of Dakota Wesleyan University feel like a fitting role for Kittle. He connects with the university’s passion for strategic planning and enrolling first-generation college students, like he once was, he said.
“There’s a real spirit of innovation there, in terms of their academic programs and seeking to serve new audiences,” said Kittle. “I feel like I’m fulfilling my vocation, in a way, which is something that I loved about Wartburg, is the emphasis on vocation.”
Along with Kittle, President Darrel Colson, Dean of Spiritual Life Brian Beckstrom, and professor of music Craig Hancock have all announced that they will be or have left the college during this academic year.