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Ancilla College Proudly Inaugurates 10th President

August 30, 2018

Prayer of MedalAugust 22nd was a special day at Ancilla College. Along with the opening convocation that is traditionally held during the first week of classes, the students were able to witness the inauguration of Dr. Michele Dvorak, PHJC as Ancilla College’s 10th president.

In addition to the students, faculty and staff, as well as the sisters of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, several special guests were also in attendance. Mayor Mark Senter of Plymouth, Sister Elise Kriss, OSF of the University of St. Francis, Dr. Daniel Lowery and Mary Severa of Calumet College of St. Joseph, Dr. David Wantz of Independent Colleges of Indiana, and several former presidents of Ancilla were just some of the special guests that helped fill the chapel.

John Chandler, Board of Directors Chairperson for Ancilla, introduced the ceremony with a brief history of the college. “Service is at the heart of the mission of Ancilla College,” Chandler said. “Service to our students and to the community that surrounds our campus. Therefore it is fitting that Dr. Dvorak chose as her inaugural motto, ‘Inspired by God, Together Forward.’” Chandler then called Dr. Dvorak to join him as well as Reverend Thomas Franzman, representative of the Diocese of Ft. Wayne/South Bend, and Sr. Judith, Provincial leader of the PHJC for the charge, blessing, bestowing and the presentation of the presidential medallion. Sr. Jolise May of the PHJC and Albert Escanilla then presented her with a framed presentation piece of the Mission Statement of Ancilla College.

At the start of her address, Dr. Dvorak stated “There are three points of reference for today’s inaugural address: the past, the present, and the future.” In discussing the past, Dr. Dvorak centered her focus on the phrase “standing on the shoulders of giants,” and to illustrate, brought two Ancilla students up to the platform that both stood 6’ 8”, dwarfing her 5’2” frame. “We are blessed here today because of those who have gone before us,” she stated.

In discussing the present, Dr. Dvorak introduced a pilot program being offered this semester at Ancilla College. “We have begun an ‘Earn and Learn’ initiative wherein 10 students receive a scholarship for $1000 per semester in exchange for work here on the campus.” Not only will they receive the money toward tuition, but students will also receive 3 credit hours as the work they will be doing will align with the degrees they are working toward. The success of this program will then be evaluated in order to grow it in the future.

In discussing the future of Ancilla College, Dr. Dvorak introduced a new vision for the college. “Ancilla College in the past has transformed itself in many ways,” she said. “In spending time thinking and studying, it appears that Ancilla and this entire campus are already on a path that moves us forward.” She then pointed out initiatives that the ministries at the Center at Donaldson have undertaken in the past, including a geothermal climate control system, wind turbines, solar panels, and 30 acres of organic farm fields. “There appears to be a tilt and a drift toward protecting the environment and for reducing our carbon footprint,” she said.  “Ancilla College can collaborate on this existing direction. We can engage in research projects, develop academic programs that engage students in integral ecology. This is consistent with Catholic Social Teaching…care of the environment.”

After her address, the faculty and students both recited pledges that remind both groups of their purpose for being at Ancilla College. At previous convocations, those in attendance are given a small token to carry with them to remind them of the message that was presented to them during the convocation. In the past, this consisted of items such as a pin or a bookmark. This year however, in keeping with Dr. Michele’s talk, they were given a timer. “So now I invite you to engage with us in a study that will have ramifications for the future.” After data was collected, it was found that the Center at Donaldson campus uses 8 million gallons of water a year. More number crunching found that if students in the residence halls limited their showers to four minutes instead of the average 8 minutes, it would reduce water usage by 336,000 gallons a year. This, in turn, would also save over $6000 a year in energy costs.

“We and we know that we will have an impact on the future,” Dr. Dvorak and we know that we will have an impact on the future,” Dr. Dvorak said. “These are the distinctive qualities of Ancilla – they set us apart. When you graduate, our task as faculty and staff is to imprint on your hearts these Ancilla values. The thumbprint that makes Ancilla College a unique educational experience.”


Ancilla College, founded in 1937, is a small, private, liberal arts school offering associate degrees in over two dozen academic programs and intercollegiate athletics at their campus near Plymouth, Indiana. Ancilla is a sponsored ministry of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, part of the Center at Donaldson.