Dana College

Dana College
Dana College.png
Motto Veritas Vincit
Active 1884–2010
Type Private
President Janet Philipp
Location Blair, Nebraska, US
Campus Rural
Athletic Director Bill Danenhauer
Mascot Vikings
Website http://www.dana.edu

Dana College is a now defunct baccalaureate college located in Blair, Nebraska. Its rural 150-acre (607,000 m²) campus is approximately 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Omaha, and overlooks a portion of the Missouri River Valley.

The name “Dana” is the poetic variant of “Denmark.” The college was founded in 1884 by Danish pioneers.



The student body was taught by 45 professors and eight non-doctorate instructors, resulting in an average teacher-student ratio of 1:12.

The college offered on-campus housing in five residence halls and contractually maintains off-campus apartments for married or non-traditional students. Campus life fostered by an active student government and many student organizations. There were no fraternities and sororities.


The Danish Evangelical Lutheran Association in America (or Blair Church) was formed in 1884 by a group of Danish members who left the Conference of the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Many Blair Church pastors were supportive of the Inner Mission.

The Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (or North Church) was formed in 1894 when seminary professor P. S. Vig, along with a number of pastor and congregations, left the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over theological differences.

In 1896, two small groups of Danish Lutherans in America - known as the Blair Church and the North Church - came together to form the United Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church (commonly known as the United Church). This church body was a part of the Danish Lutheran "Inner Mission" movement, which supported a revival of religious practice based on the Bible and orthodox Lutheran teachings. Its members strongly opposed the liberalizing influence of Danish theologian N. F. S. Grundtvig, who had supported the realization of religious expression through sacramental and congregational practices.

Led by Peter Sørensen Vig and C. X. Hansen, one of the United Church's first priorities was to establish an educational system. Elk Horn Højskole in Elk Horn, Iowa, had been founded in 1878 as the first Danish folk school in America. In 1894, Pastor Kristian Anker, then owner and principal of the Elk Horn Højskole, sold it to the newly formed Danish Lutheran Church in North America for use as a seminary and college. When the North Church merged with the Blair Church in 1896, the seminary was consolidated with Trinity Seminary in Blair, Nebraska.[1]

When the Dana School was founded, part of its purpose was to be a pre-seminary school for those preparing for ministry in the Lutheran church. Many of Dana's early graduates went on to study at Trinity Seminary. For many years, Dana and Trinity shared faculty, administrators, staff, and presidents. This relationship ended in 1956 when Trinity Seminary merged with Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.[2]

The Dana School was begun as preparatory school. By the early 1910s - in cooperation with the University of Nebraska - the Dana School was awarding Associate's Degrees. In the 1930s Dana College became an accredited four-year school and began awarding Bachelor's Degrees.[3]

The institution faced economic troubles in the 2000s. In 2010 it was put up for sale to a group investors which formed the Dana Education Corporation. The group intended to transform the institution into a for-profit institution with a focus on "doubling enrollment, aggressively marketing the school and building Dana's study abroad program." The sale of the college was not approved by the institution's regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission. Without the approval and no other source of financial backing, the college was forced to close in July 2010.

College assets in the form of archival materials relating to Danish-American immigration history are in safekeeping at the Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn, Iowa.

Presidents of Dana College & Trinity Seminary

Trinity Seminary was served by six Presidents. A. M. Andersen (1884–1889) was the founding President of the seminary. The two men who followed him were intimately involved in both the formation of the school and of the United Church. G. B. Christiansen served the school from 1890-1896. P.S. Vig led the school on and off for the next thirty years (1896–1899, 1902–1905, 1909–1914, 1919–1925). Other Presidents of the seminary included S. C. Eriksen (1908–1909), J. P. Nielsen, and T. I. Jensen.[4]

Five men were appointed by the United Church to serve as Presidents of both the Dana College and Trinity Seminary. These were Kristian Anker (1899–1902), J. P. Jensen (1905–1908), L. A. Laursen (1914–1919), T. M. Hansen (1925–1929), Erland Nelson (1929–1931) and R. E. Morton (1946–1956)[5]

The Presidents of Dana College were:

  • Kristian Anker (1902–1905)
  • C. X. Hansen (1908–1914, 1919–1925, 1936–1938)
  • Erland Nelson (1931–1936)
  • Lawrence Siersbeck (1938–1944)
  • R. E. Morton (1944–1956)
  • C. C. Madsen (1956–1971)
  • Earl R. Mezoff (1971–1978)
  • Myrv Christopherson (1986–2005)
  • Janet Philipp (2005–2010)

Notable Graduates

  • Marion Hudson '56.[6] First Black Student. Former Football player and Dana College record holder. Inducted into Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.[7]
  • Myrvin F. Christopherson '61. Former President of Dana College.[8]
  • Mike Carubba '92. Former CFL Quarterback and current sports movie consultant.[9]
  • Matty Lewis '98. Co-lead singer of the La Habra, CA based punk rock band Zebrahead.
  • Jason Dannelly '02. Former athlete and broadcaster. Sports journalist and founder of the Victory Sports Network, the national media for NAIA athletics
  • Benson Henderson '06. Mixed martial artist. UFC and WEC veteran. Former WEC Lightweight Champion.[10]


Dana College was a member of the Great Plains Athletic Conference. Former pro wrestler Bill Danenhauer was the last athletic director. The athletic program provided for a baseball, soccer, cheer and dance, basketball, American football, men's and women's golf, softball, track, volleyball, women's lacrosse and wrestling program.

In addition, Dana College had a number of intramural and club sports programs below the varsity level that function independently from the athletic department. Dana College thought of changing conference affiliations in January 2009, but outcry from alumni caused the school to rethink its position.[11]

Loss of Accreditation

On 30 June 2010, Dana College's accreditation was not renewed by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools after the school was to be bought by Dana Education Corp. and the Nebraska Higher Education Corp., a for-profit company. After the soon to be owners discovered that Dana was no longer accredited they forfeited the sale. The Dana Board of Reagents decided not to continue operating the school, citing a multi-million dollar deficit. Students were offered the ability to transfer the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Grand View University in Iowa through formal teach-out plans.

The school was denied a transference of accreditation because the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools ("HLC") stated that the college had failed to meet the requirements for transferring accreditation to a new owner.

Following the news of the Higher Learning Commission's denial, Dana's board speculated that the decision was politically oriented.[12] In the weeks prior to HLC's decision regarding Dana, the President of HLC was questioned by Congress in regards to a decision pertaining to another for-profit college.

Dana's sister college, Midland University, offered Dana College students free room and board for one year, they will match the financial aid package each student received and they will ensure that all credits transfer. Kentucky Christian University as well as Concordia University, Nebraska also have made available transfer opportunities for all Dana College students. Dana's legacy alumni affairs efforts are being incorporated into a Dana College Foundation, which will remain based in Blair, Nebraska.[13]

The University of Phoenix, Kaplan, and ITT Tech have all shown interest in acquiring the former Dana campus.[citation needed]


On the history of Dana College and Trinity Seminary:

  • Christensen, William E. Saga of the Tower: A History of Dana College and Trinity Seminary. Blair, Nebraska: Lutheran Publishing House, 1959.
  • Petersen, Peter L. A Place Called Dana: The Centennial History of Trinity Seminary and Dana College. Blair, Nebraska: Dana College, 1984

On the history of the Danish Lutherans in America:

  • Jensen, John M. The United Evangelical Lutheran Church: An Interpretation. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1964.
  • Nyholm, Paul C. The Americanization of the Danish Lutheran Churches in America: A Study in Immigrant History. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1963.

External links

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