Founded in 1891, Buena Vista University is a private four-year university nestled on the shores of a beautiful 3,000-acre natural lake in Storm Lake, Iowa – a town of diverse populations, interests, and industry. The community is tight knit, rich with Midwest values, and driven to flourish. Within this idyllic setting, Buena Vista University is an institution on the move poised to accomplish positive and innovative institutional advances underpinned by a strong vision to enhance its regional and national reputation. For the 2018-19 academic year, there are 725 undergraduate students at the Storm Lake campus and 1,018 students are enrolled at BVU sites located on community college campuses or online, while 178 students are enrolled in graduate programs. BVU has 16 convenient locations across Iowa for place bound students who desire to earn a bachelor’s degree. Over 40 percent of BVU students participate in intercollegiate athletics on 19 NCAA Division III teams. BVU was Carnegie Classified in Community Engagement in 2010 and will retain this classification until 2020.

The Position

Reporting to the president and serving on the President’s Cabinet, the vice president for enrollment management (VPEM) will lead, manage, and motivate the enrollment division; partner with senior leaders on marketing and retention efforts; and engage the entire community in working together in attracting, enrolling, retaining, and graduating an increasingly talented and diverse student population, drawn both domestically and internationally. The division of enrollment management is comprised of the following departments: office of admissions, admissions operations; online and site admissions, and the office of financial aid. The VPEM will work closely with the director of graduate programs who oversees graduate admissions and will have the opportunity to assess the enrollment operation while seeking input from staff, faculty, administrators, and trustees.

Responsibilities of the Position

The VPEM will be empowered to further build a strategic enrollment plan that will establish a stable and solid foundation to consistently meet the University’s enrollment goals. The vice president will develop a strategy that is nimble, forward-thinking, and ambitious, supporting numerous possibilities and aspirations while also supporting the core values of the institution. Charged with strategically reviewing the current organizational structure, staff functions, and staffing levels, with an understanding that the president will support strategic change and growth with a focus on increased student recruitment, the VPEM will explore all possibilities for future enrollment and will be asked to address the following critical leadership issues, among others:

  • develop a forward-thinking vision for enrollment that both supports and extends BVU’s history, mission, and traditions;
  • engage the entire campus in enrollment activities; and
  • further develop and support a strong enrollment team.

The VPEM will focus on providing exceptional leadership to the enrollment division, providing vision, direction, and supervision to a staff of 22, administering the disbursement of institutional aid of more than $14 million, and managing an annual operating and salary budget of more than $1.9 million.

Characteristics of the Successful Candidate

A master’s degree and significant, documented, progressively responsible management experience in higher education administration are required. In addition to possessing extensive knowledge of BVU, state and federal policies, programs, and academic enterprise, the VPEM must be an extraordinary visionary and collaborator and must consistently demonstrate outstanding interpersonal skills when relating to traditional-age, as well as adult students, parents, faculty, and staff. It is essential that this individual have a genuine interest in, and concern for the people he/she serves. In addition, deep experience and knowledge about proven practices in student retention; demonstrated achievement in implementing practices to retain and graduate diverse student populations; knowledge of national trends in strategic recruitment, retention, and state/federal rules and regulations; broad knowledge of university academic and non-academic policy, structure, governance, and service delivery; and exceptional data gathering, analysis, and presentation skills will be expected of the vice president for enrollment management.

In order to succeed in this important position, campus stakeholders offered the following suggestions for personal characteristics which would be sought in the vice president:

  • one who is a change manager who will offer impactful, long-term strategies for the successful enrollment and retention of BVU students;
  • a hands-on professional who enjoys the work and who will be transformational;
  • one who understands 21st-century staff management and is a transparent collaborator who is acutely aware of BVU’s position within the regional, national, and international landscape;
  • one who has a sense of humor and seeks joyful engagement;
  • a visionary who will collaborate with BVU faculty to develop undergraduate pipeline programs;
  • one who values data and data-driven decisions and who will be a partner in establishing and achieving institutional enrollment goals;
  • one who is a strong listener;
  • one who understands the entire cycle of enrollment, including recruitment, enrollment, and retention, as well as the non-academic components which impact that cycle;
  • one who has very strong oral skills and will collaborate at all levels with staff and faculty to recruit and retain students;
  • one who “sees the big picture,” i.e., who will review processes and recommend changes to increase efficiencies;
  • one who has an innovative approach to financial aid awarding and will work to enhance the communication of admission acceptances and financial aid packages earlier so that students can make well-grounded decisions;
  • one who understands financial aid leveraging and BVU’s position in the marketplace;
  • one who is a risk-taker and accountable and, in turn, expects accountability from staff and external vendors with whom BVU has contracted;
  • one who has a strong interest in growing diverse populations, including on-campus, adult degree-completion as well as international student populations;
  • a hands-on leader with a “fire in the belly,” who is outwardly engaged in the process, makes data-driven decisions, and is actively and intuitively engaged in the process;
  • one who has excellent goal-setting skills and can establish processes to achieve those goals;
  • one who understands a marketing call-to-action and will work with the marketing team to create comprehensive marketing and communication plans;
  • one who is transparent and will talk about the data with faculty, encouraging them to understand BVU’s position and who will enlist their help;
  • one who understands the difference between NCAA Division III athletics and NAIA athletics and will work to enhance messaging with coaches and student-athletes;
  • one who believes in the importance of financial literacy and will work to create appropriate messaging around student loan indebtedness and the actual cost of a BVU education;
  • one who is innovative with recruiting trends and understands the recruitment landscape in rural Iowa as well as the international arena;
  • an individual with emotional intelligence who will mentor and lead the enrollment team;
  • one who has experience working with adult students;
  • one who is technologically savvy and will work to enhance the use of the Jenzabar system currently in place;
  • a change agent with a strong sense of confidence who will challenge the enrollment team and his/her colleagues on the cabinet to take some calculated risks in marketing and recruitment and who can manage and lead change; and
  • one who is a dynamic leader who values the BVU and Storm Lake communities.

History of the Position

The Vice President for Enrollment Management position had been held for several years by an individual who has left Buena Vista University. The position is currently being filled on an interim basis through the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Likely Opportunities, Priorities, and Challenges of the Position

As with many institutions, the recognition of the need to “recruit alumni,” and not just students to fill the seats, is becoming increasingly important on the BVU campus, as retention of students continues to be a top priority. Attention must also be paid to the recruitment of athletes, as a focus on their retention is also an institutional priority. The roster sizes at BVU are significantly lower than other NCAA Division III schools, and that will also be a focus of the vice president’s collaboration with the Athletics Director and all of the coaches. In addition, the emphasis on technology and the provision of appropriate training and tools for all staff and faculty to use the student information system, Jenzabar, efficiently and effectively will be a priority of the vice president.

With several new senior level administrators on campus, the vice president will have the opportunity to collaborate with the new Chief Marketing Officer as well as the new Vice President of University Development and Alumni Affairs to create messaging and events that will enhance recruitment efforts. Additionally, with a very strong academic support system which includes academic liaison positions within each of the schools, there is an opportunity to recruit the types of students who will be retained and to enhance the overall academic and social experience of the students during their time on campus. The recognition and understanding of the various type of academic programming offered by BVU will be critical to the success of the new vice president, as the adult degree completion populations continue to increase throughout the state of Iowa. Historically, BVU was one of the first institutions in the U.S. to recognize a need to develop and deliver an educational model that would meet the educational and geographic needs of students who had not had the opportunity to begin or complete their education. With 16 locations on community college campuses throughout Iowa, this population of students has surpassed the on-campus, traditional undergraduate population in size and must continue to receive the services they need to prosper, to graduate, and to continue their education.

Measures of Success for the Position

At an appropriate interval after joining Buena Vista University, a number of accomplishments will initially define success for the new Vice President for Enrollment Management:

  • The Vice President will have reviewed organizational strengths and weaknesses and will have outlined the strategic direction and long-term plan for the Division of Enrollment Management consistent with the University’s mission and goals.
  • It will be important for the Vice President to assess the skills and knowledge of the staff, develop a strong sense of teamwork among staff, and build working relationships with faculty, staff, students, and external vendors that emphasize an engaging and collaborative work environment.
  • The Vice President will maintain a proactive, highly visible, well-respected, and established leadership presence on and off campus that is credible, collegial, and highly effective.
  • The Division of Enrollment Management will be defined as a strong, highly functioning, well-regarded, and resilient team that works with synergy and shared purpose, readily collaborating across departmental and division lines with a demonstrated commitment to enrolling students who will thrive at BVU, graduate, and become engaged alums.
  • In collaboration with other key university stakeholders, the Vice President for Enrollment Management will be tasked with providing leadership for a campus-wide, collaborative effort focused on student enrollment and retention. The vice president will be expected to demonstrate transparency, a willingness to collaborate with all internal and external stakeholders, and to provide vision, leadership, and accountability.

The Enrollment Management Division

The division of enrollment management is comprised of the following departments: office of admissions, admissions operations, online and site admissions, and the office of financial aid. The VPEM will work closely with the director of graduate programs who oversees graduate admissions and will have the opportunity to assess the enrollment operation while seeking input from staff, faculty, administrators, and trustees. Below is the organizational chart of the enrollment management division:

Institution & Location

Institutional Background

Buena Vista University (BVU) is a private institution that was founded in 1891. It has a total enrollment of 1,847 students, its setting is rural, and the campus size is 60 acres. It utilizes a 4-1-4-based academic calendar.

Buena Vista College (which became Buena Vista University in 1995) was founded by the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1891. The college was first granted accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1952. A graduate program in education received accreditation in 1995, initiating a transition from a college to a university.

Over time, the campus has grown from four buildings in a small area to nearly two dozen buildings which cover a handful of blocks along the shores of Storm Lake. The first college building, known as “Old Main,” was opened in 1892 and was the primary building on campus until it was destroyed by fire in 1956. During the 1950s and 1960s, a major expansion program was initiated with construction of three residence halls, a science building, physical education complex, library, campus center, an auditorium, and a classroom-administration building.

The college launched a new era in May 1980, when it received an anonymous $18 million gift. Five years later, the anonymous donor was revealed when the Harold Walter Siebens School of Business/Siebens Forum (HWSSOB/SF) was dedicated in the name of the benefactor. This gift started the creation of a competitive college endowment, which supported physical construction and renovation, as well as further development of regionally-recognized academic programs. It made possible such distinctive programs as the William W. Siebens American Heritage Lecture Series and the Academic & Cultural Events Series (ACES). The HWSSOB/SF is currently undergoing a renovation to create a more student-focused space. Upon completion in December, students will have lounges, more modern classrooms, a state-of-the-art dining hall, a ticker tape trading room for business majors, and a renovated bookstore.

An institutional self-study indicated the need to strengthen the college library and information resources, leading to construction of the Library and Information Technology Center in 1994-95. In 2001, the $9.5 million Lamberti Recreation Center opened, featuring three multipurpose courts and a six-lane, 200-meter indoor track. In 2004, BVU dedicated the state-of-the-art, $70,000-square foot Estelle Siebens Science Center. Four years later, renovations to the old science building were completed and the building was rededicated as the Social Sciences & Art Hall with an attached Center for Ceramics and Sculpture. In 2012, a major renovation of Pierce/White residence halls was completed, including new furniture, upgraded lighting, a multipurpose space, elevator, and a new entrance.

Throughout the years, Buena Vista University has recognized needs and trends and adapted to meet them. In the mid-70s, the institution opened its first satellite location to help serve the needs of non-traditional students who could not attend classes in Storm Lake. Today, there are 16 locations across the state of Iowa as well as an online program for expanded learning opportunities. Graduate students benefit from several online options as well. In 2000, BVU became the nation’s first “wireless community” by providing laptops to all full-time students and faculty on the Storm Lake campus with the ability to connect to the campus-wide wireless network. Since then, BVU has built on civic engagement opportunities to create a greater atmosphere for community and campus service and involvement. Students have learned what it means to be global citizens and travel the world through professor-led academic ventures. Students also will soon benefit from a marching and pep band program, as well as an Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Resource Management, which will feature programs in ag-business and ag-science starting in fall 2019.

The 2018-2023 Strategic Plan

Purpose and Relevance Reimagined: throughout much of 2017-2018, the campus community joined together to build a Strategic Plan outlining an esteemed vision that reaffirms BVU’s worth and dynamic ability to embrace change and impact lives. The effort was led by a strong team of University leaders, with results reflecting recommendations and input from faculty and staff.

View the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan:


We prepare students for lifelong success through transformational academic, professional, and co-curricular programs.


To be a nationally recognized and trusted leader in rural higher education known for its remarkable student learning. We will be an institutional destination—ambitious in our efforts to distinctively, and boldly, inspire students to serve, empower, and transform communities through Education for Service.


Transformational Experiences
Meaningful Connections
Stewardship and Sustainability
Respect and Inclusiveness

About Storm Lake, IA

Not only is Storm Lake a college town, it also boasts a lake, rich heritage and history, diverse cultures, and opportunities in which college students thrive. The shores of Storm Lake are unbeatable for quiet reflection and focus. But, we’re also the hub in Northwest Iowa. From fun in the sun to ice hockey, and boutiques to pad thai, Storm Lake is the place for adventure and discovery.

For satisfying a late night burrito craving at an authentic restaurant, or digging into barbecue at wing night, this college town has it all. And believe it or not, Iowa’s Best Burger 2017, according to The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Beef Industry Council, as well as Travel Iowa’s 9th best donut bakery, can be found right here in Storm Lake. Grab a coffee and go shoe shopping, or buy a new batting glove with a teammate. Storm Lake has much to offer.

Storm Lake itself is the fourth largest glacier lake in Iowa, spanning over 3,200 acres and considered the region’s best for walleye fishing. Enjoy music, theater, arts, and athletics at Buena Vista University. Outdoor recreation includes lakeshore parks and campgrounds, biking and walking trails, two marinas, and public access for boating, fishing and swimming.

For more information about Storm Lake, IA, visit the Chamber of Commerce website at


Joshua D. Merchant, PhD, President

With a strong belief in higher education serving the public good, Dr. Joshua D. Merchant has worked in education for more than 20 years. His experience in the areas of development, alumni engagement, advancement operations, enrollment management, as well as marketing and communications complement his personal philosophy of being community, faculty, and student centered.

Dr. Merchant began his presidency at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa in the summer of 2017. Within his first year as president, Dr. Merchant established the Education for Service Scholars, an annual full-tuition scholarship program for 10 local first-generation students; created the Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Resource Management with classes in agriculture business and agriculture science beginning Fall 2019; revived the marching and pep band programs after a 20-year absence; launched the University’s first comprehensive civic engagement plan; and completed fundraising and is currently overseeing a $15.1 million renovation of the Harold-Walter Siebens School of Business/Siebens Forum.

In his past role as the vice president of development and alumni engagement at the University of North Florida and the executive director and CEO for the UNF Foundation, Inc., Dr. Merchant provided oversight in strategic planning, fundraising, and external engagement. At UNF, he significantly increased University’s fundraising success—both in dollars and donor participation.  During his tenure at UNF, the University celebrated the highest fundraising years in the University’s history.

Dr. Merchant previously served at Albion College from 2008-2014 as vice president for institutional advancement with responsibility for alumni engagement, external marketing and communications, advancement operations, and capital and annual fundraising. While at Albion College, Dr. Merchant considerably increased fundraising activity building toward a $100+ million capital campaign, redefined alumni engagement in practice and theory, added a marketing division to the advancement team, and successfully launched a new branding campaign for the College. For a year and a half, Dr. Merchant also served as interim vice president for enrollment management overseeing admissions and enrollment marketing where he increased net tuition revenue by 14 percent.

Prior to Albion College, Dr. Merchant was assistant vice president of advancement at Interlochen Center for the Arts in northern Michigan. Earlier in his career, he served as senior director of development at Central Michigan University’s College of Business Administration where he was part of an $80 million capital campaign at Michigan State University. He worked in special and major gifts for both the College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where he was part of a $1.5 billion capital campaign.

A graduate of Albion College with a Bachelor of Arts in speech communication and theatre, Dr. Merchant was also a member of the Albion College Alumni Association Board of Directors for five years, serving as president from 2006-08. He holds a master’s degree in agriculture and extension education from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University and received his Ph.D. in educational leadership, research and technology from the College of Education and Human Services at Western Michigan University. His research focus is in venture philanthropy and its impact on shared governance structures in higher education. Dr. Merchant’s research was awarded the 2016 Donald A. Gatzke Outstanding Dissertation Research Award by the American Association of University Administrators. He also holds a certificate in fund raising management from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

He has presented at several national conferences including the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, American Marketing Association Higher Education Symposium, American Association of University Administrators Conference, Association of Fundraising Professionals, and Ruffalo Noel-Levitz Annual Fundraising Conference on various advancement related topics.

Dr. Merchant has also participated as a consultant for the Great Lakes College Association Global Liberal Arts Alliance Program at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco and as mentor for American University, Bulgaria. An active member of CASE, Dr. Merchant was appointed as a member of the CASE Commission on Alumni Engagement from 2013-2016.

Dr. Merchant was recently named by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to serve on the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative Task Force – Investing in Rural Iowa, and he also is a member of the Iowa Lakes Corridor Board of Directors. Additionally, Dr. Merchant currently serves as Chair for the President’s Council for the American Rivers Conference, member of the NCAA Division III Chancellors/Presidents Advisory Group, member of the NCAA Division III Nominating Committee and member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities Tax Policy Committee. He also chaired the Delta Sigma Phi Foundation National Ambassador Program and is an active member of the fraternity’s Capital Campaign Committee.

Dr. Merchant has been married to his wife Carrie for more than 20 years. They are proud parents of two sons, Elijah (16) and Griffin (13) and reside in Storm Lake, Iowa.

Brian A. Lenzmeier, PhD, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Brian Lenzmeier joined BVU in 2003 as a professor of biology. He earned his PhD in biochemistry from Colorado State University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. He also completed post-doctoral research in molecular biology at Princeton University and was a visiting research fellow in the area of molecular medicine at Mayo Clinic in 2011.

In addition to his role as a professor of biology, Lenzmeier has held several leadership roles at BVU, including that of chair of the Search Committee for the Vice President for Enrollment Management position. In recent years, he has served as chair of the Tenure and Promotion committee, played an integral role in the revision of faculty employment policies, and worked with colleagues to develop and implement a new biomedical sciences major. In 2016, he served on the Board of Trustees’ presidential search committee.

Dr. Lenzmeier has been named “Faculty Member of the Year” twice by the BVU student senate, and was the 2009 recipient of the George Wythe Award, the University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching.

Kevin McIntyre, Interim Vice President for Enrollment Management

Kevin McIntyre joined BVU in September 2018 as interim vice president of enrollment management for the 2018-19 fiscal year. Before joining BVU he served as dean of admission at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and also held prior roles as vice president at Rosemont College, dean of enrollment management at Immaculata University, dean of admissions at Goldey-Beacom College, director of admissions and financial aid at Keystone Junior College, and assistant dean of admissions at King’s College.

McIntyre is actively involved in multiple organizations including the National Association for College Admission Counseling. He has also been a member of Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling and a scholarship program reader for Educational Testing Services.

McIntyre received his master’s of business administration from Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, Delaware and his bachelor’s in English at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

The Academic Program

With more than 45 academic programs and majors to choose from, students are able to align passions with an exciting academic path leading to success in college and after graduation. Choosing a major is a big decision, which is why BVU’s broad selection covers areas ranging from pre-med to strategic public relations. See: for the complete listing of programs and majors at BVU.

The major study areas of Buena Vista University are grouped within the following four schools:

Harold Walter Siebens School of Business
School of Education
School of Science
School of Liberal Arts

The Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Resource Management with classes in agriculture business and agriculture science, created by President Joshua Merchant, will begin in fall 2019.

The Student Body

Buena Vista University had a total enrollment of 725 full-time residential students on the Storm Lake campus in fall 2018, 1018 students enrolled at BVU sites located on community college campuses or online and 178 students enrolled in graduate programs. In sports, Buena Vista University is a member of the American Rivers Athletic Conference in NCAA Division III.

  • Based on a response rate of nearly 94 percent, 96 percent of the Class of 2017 was employed, in graduate school, or otherwise satisfied with their career status within six months of graduation.
  • In the past 40+ years, more than 16,000 students have received bachelor’s degrees from BVU sites located on community college campuses.
  • The average student-faculty ratio is 9:1. The average class size is 14 students.
  • One hundred percent of full-time Storm Lake campus students who applied for financial assistance last year received it.
  • Each year, BVU provides approximately $14 million in student financial assistance out of its operating budget.
  • More than 45 percent of BVU students participate in intercollegiate athletics on more than 20 collegiate teams.
  • Forty-nine student-athletes were named to the Iowa All Conference Academic Team last year.
  • BVU’s completed Civic Action Plan serves a platform to maximize the impact of comprehensive, community engagement.
  • BVU was Carnegie Classified in Community Engagement in 2010 and will retain this classification until 2020. This is the highest honor a university can gain in service and civic engagement.
  • Out of all Iowa Campus Compact schools, BVU has the highest amount of Iowa college AmeriCorps members.

Benefits Overview

Buena Vista University offers employees a competitive package of employee benefits. This program is designed to protect and promote their financial, physical, and emotional well-being.

Benefits include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Medical
  • Prescription Drugs and Specialty Drugs
  • Wellness
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Health Savings Accounts
  • Dental and Vision Benefits
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Life Insurance Benefits
  • Retirement Plans
  • Educational Tuition Grant
  • Travel Assistance Benefits

For a detailed look at BVU benefits, visit the website at

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Kendra E. Dane at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the Buena Vista University website at

Buena Vista University is an Equal Opportunity/Americans with Disabilities Act/Smoke-Free Employer.