Dr. Donald Simmons joined the Dakota Wesleyan University faculty in 2006 as the first full-time director of the McGovern Center and the founding chairman of the DWU Department of Leadership and Public Service. He now serves as the dean of the College of Leadership and Public Service. His responsibilities also previously included dean of graduate studies.
A native of Mississippi, Simmons received his Ph.D. in history and international studies from the University of Denver. Most of his early research focused on the displacement of peoples throughout history, primarily as a result of wars and conflict, but in recent years his interests have shifted to Christian leadership and social justice. He has published numerous books and journal articles and appeared as a guest on many national television and radio programs.
Some of his publications include: “Latin America and the Caribbean in Transition” (Troy State University Press,1995), which he co-edited; a chapter on the history and politics of the St. Moritz 1948 Olympics in "The Historical Dictionary of the Modern Olympics" (Greenwood Press, 1996); “Confederate Settlements in British Honduras” (McFarland and Company Publishers, 2001); the introductory chapter of “George McGovern: A Political Life, A Political Legacy” (South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 2004); the college textbook “Leadership and Service: An Introduction” (Kendall/Hunt Publishers, 2008), which he co-edited with Sen. George McGovern and Dan Gaken of Central Michigan University; and he co-authored and co-edited "The Plains Political Tradition: Essays on South Dakota Political Culture" (South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 2011). Simmons also recently completed a co-edited book-length project on Christian Leadership, which will be forthcoming in 2013.
His filmography includes “Hungry for Green: Feeding the World Sustainably,” a documentary short film for educational television that he produced, which premiered in 2008 at Harvard University Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment. The documentary was hailed by filmmaker Ken Burns as “An important film that underscores the urgency of achieving agricultural sustainability to help alleviate hunger and protect our natural environment.”
Prior to joining the faculty at Dakota Wesleyan, Simmons served as the executive director of the South Dakota Humanities Council, where he founded the South Dakota Center for the Book and the South Dakota Festival of Books. Simmons was the 1997 recipient of the Presidential Award presented by the Association of Third World Studies for his leadership in that field of study. In 1995, he was recognized by the Southeast/South Regional Association of Academic Affairs Administrators as the State Administrator of the Year for his work at Troy University's Honors College.
Simmons has been active politically over the years at the local, state and national levels. He has been involved in many national political party conventions and has served as a political reporter and analyst for numerous news agencies. He was twice elected a city councilman and served for a number of years as a member of the South Dakota Municipal League's Public Works Committee. He also served a three-year term on the South Dakota Board of Nursing.
An active participant and supporter of church missions abroad, Simmons worked on malaria control programs in Latin America (Belize and Guatemala) during the 1980s before attending Sioux Falls Seminary where he focused his study on missions with Dr. W. Jay Moon. More recently, since 2009, he has been active in Kenya with collaborative partnerships involving the Center for the Church and Global AIDS.
L. Brian Patrick
Dr. Brian Patrick joined DWU the fall of 2009. His research interests include: human influences on biological communities and ecosystems; biodiversity inventorying to catalogue the abundance and distribution of species – particularly spiders and beetles; and recycling and waste management issues.
His research on ecological sustainability focuses on two primary areas: biodiversity discovery and inventorying, and agroecology. The discovery and cataloguing of biodiversity entails documenting the abundance and distribution of species. This requires extensive field work in which Patrick samples invertebrates, particularly spiders and beetles, then identify them to species in his lab at DWU. This work helps document the current ranges of known species, and leads to the occasional discovery of new species!
As part of his research on agroecology, Patrick studies the use of
habitat refugia to augment predator loads in agroecosystems. Thus, he
looks at implementing small bits of refugia placed in agricultural fields,
i.e., piles of straw or other substrates as places for wandering spiders
and other invertebrate predators to hide when they are not hunting.
These habitat refugia help to increase the abundance of invertebrate
predators in crop fields because they provide places to hide and rest
during the times they would not normally be hunting. With more invertebrate
predators in the fields, more prey (e.g., aphids and other crop pests)
are eaten, thereby reducing crop pest numbers and increasing crop yields.
This simple technique has been used in agricultural settings for centuries,
and preliminary work has shown that these types of techniques can increase
Donald A. Watt
Dr. Donald A. Watt has been a Fellow of the McGovern Center since August 2008. From January 2004 until the hiring of Dr. Donald Simmons in 2006 he led the efforts to create the academic components of the center, as well as serving as vice president for academic affairs at Dakota Wesleyan. Watt holds a bachelor's degree from Mount Union College, two master's degrees from Pacific School of Religion, and a master's and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation was titled, “Models of National Defense: Relating Weapon Technology to the Role of the State.”
Prior to joining DWU he served in academic and administrative positions at Southern Arkansas University. Watt was also a visiting professor in Russia at Moscow State Pedagogical University. His written work has been included in 23 publications, including two developed by the McGovern Center. These contributions for the center include an essay in “Leadership and Service,” edited by George McGovern, Simmons and Dan Gaken, director of the leadership program at Central Michigan University. Watts is also co-authoring a chapter with Simmons in “South Dakota’s Political Culture,” edited by Simmons. Beginning in 2012, he has been writing articles for the 10-volume "Defining Documents" series (in U.S. history), having contributed 26 articles on religious and political texts to the first four volumes. The writing assignment, for the next six volumes, will continue in 2013.
Dustin “Dusty” Johnson is a Visiting McGovern Professor of Leadership and Public Service at Dakota Wesleyan University. He has taught courses in public policy, primarily those related to policy formation and analysis, since 2007.
Johnson serves as Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s chief of staff. Prior to joining the Daugaard administration, he served as chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission for six years. Before his 2004 election to the PUC, Dusty worked in Gov. Mike Rounds’ administration as a senior policy adviser.
Dusty grew up in Pierre, S.D., and graduated from Riggs High School in Pierre. He went on to college at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. A Truman Scholar, Dusty went on to post-graduate work at the Stene Center at the University of Kansas. There, he earned his master’s degree in public administration.
Dusty and his wife, Jacquelyn, have two sons, Max and Ben. Dusty enjoys camping, watching college basketball and other sports, and hanging out with his sons.
© 2012 • McGovern
Center for Leadership and Public Service