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Dana College is a currently 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 campus was purchased by Midland University, which expressed its intention to re-open the campus in 2015 or 2016.[1]

Dana College
Dana College.png
Motto Veritas Vincit
Type Private
Active 1884–2010
Location Blair, Nebraska, US
Campus Rural
Mascot Vikings

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.[2]

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.[3]

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 degrees. In the 1930s Dana College became an accredited four-year school and began awarding bachelor's degrees.[4]


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 change of control was not accepted by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the soon-to-be-owners forfeited the sale. The Dana Board of Regents decided not to continue operating the school, citing a multimillion-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. Midland Lutheran College, since renamed Midland University, allowed former-Dana students to transfer all Dana credits, honored all Dana academic, athletic and need-based scholarships and grants, and waived enrollment deposits for Dana students. Of the roughly 600 Dana students, approximately 275 enrolled at Midland in the fall of 2010.[5]

Following the news of the Higher Learning Commission's denial, Dana's board speculated that the decision was politically oriented.[6] 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.

In 2013, Midland University, experiencing increasing enrollment and considering expansion, leased the Dana campus with the option of purchasing it. In 2016, however, Midland announced that it would not re-open the Dana campus, but would concentrate its expansion efforts in Fremont and Omaha. According to a Midland press release, high maintenance costs and "a complicated path to accreditation" dissuaded them from carrying through their plans for the Blair site.[7][8]

Presidents of Dana College & Trinity SeminaryEdit

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.[9]

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)[10]

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)
  • James G. Kallas (1978–1985)
  • Myrvin Christopherson (1986–2005)
  • Janet Philipp (2005–2010)
Trinity Chapel


The campus has 151 acres (61 ha) of space. It is about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Omaha.[11]

Rasmussen Hall housed first and second year students. It was coed, with each wing or each floor housing a sex.[12] Holling Hall housed first and second year students.[13] Blair Hall housed upperclassmen, and first year students were not eligible to live there.[14] Previously Mickelsen Hall housed both men on women on different floors.[15] In the summer of 2007 Mickelsen was renovated so it housed upperclassmen women.[16] In the fall of 2006 the school opened the Suite-Style Apartments for third and fourth year students.[17]

The university maintained Omaha Village Apartments, for married and non-traditional students.[18] Omaha Village had one and two bedroom apartments.[19]

Dana College expected its students to live on campus for all of their years. Any students wishing to live off campus were required to gain approval.[20]

Notable graduatesEdit


Dana College's sports teams were known as the Vikings. Former pro wrestler Bill Danenhauer was the last athletic director. Intercollegiate sports included baseball, soccer, cheer and dance, basketball, football, men's and women's golf, softball, track and field, cross country, volleyball, women's lacrosse and wrestling.

The school was part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), competing in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC). In January 2009, it considered changing conference affiliations; however, outcry from alumni caused the school to rethink its position.[21]

The college also had a number of intramural and club sports programs below the varsity level, operating independently of the athletic department.


  1. ^ Midland picks up the keys to former Dana campus
  2. ^ Elk Horn Højskole Folk School (Dana College)
  3. ^ "Dana College". Retrieved August 2, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2009-12-29. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "A Letter from the Board of Regents". July 15, 2010. Archived from the original on August 5, 2010. Retrieved August 2, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Midland University drops plans for vacant Dana College campus". KETV. March 19, 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  8. ^ Granese, Don. "Blair hopeful former Dana College campus has a future". WOWT. March 18, 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  9. ^ Lists of Presidents compiled from Peter Petersen, A Place Called Dana (Omaha: Acme Printing, 1984) p.193
  10. ^ Presidents of Trinity Seminary and Dana College (About Dana College)
  11. ^ Cole, Kevin. "$5.9 million price for Dana campus." Omaha World-Herald. Monday May 2, 2011. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  12. ^ "Rasmussen Hall." Dana College. October 22, 2008. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  13. ^ "Holling Hall." Dana College. May 10, 2008. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  14. ^ "Blair Hall." Dana College. May 10, 2008. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  15. ^ "Mickelsen Hall." Dana College. September 7, 2006. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  16. ^ "Mickelsen Hall." Dana College. October 23, 2008. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  17. ^ "Suite-Style Apartments." Dana College. October 23, 2008. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  18. ^ "Omaha Village Apartments." Dana College. September 7, 2006. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  19. ^ "Omaha Village Housing Application." Dana College. October 7, 2006. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  20. ^ "FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT LIVING ON-CAMPUS." Dana College. June 29, 2007. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  21. ^

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 linksEdit