About Joshua D. Merchant, Ph.D.


The Buena Vista University Board of Trustees appointed Joshua D. Merchant, Ph.D., as the University’s 18th president in February 2017. Dr. Merchant officially began his term on June 26, 2017.

With a strong belief that higher education serves the public good, Dr. Merchant has worked in education for 20 years. Prior to joining BVU, he was the vice president of development and alumni engagement at the University of North Florida and served as the chief operating officer for the UNF Foundation, Inc.  Dr. Merchant’s professional accomplishments include significantly increasing philanthropic support for UNF and successfully spearheading the UNF Foundation’s first comprehensive strategic planning process to bolster philanthropic efforts.

Dr. Merchant also spent a significant time at Albion College where he served as vice president of institutional advancement and as interim vice president for enrollment management. During his tenure, he provided leadership for fundraising, a comprehensive integrated marketing campaign and was part of an enrollment strategy that successfully increased net tuition.

Prior to Albion College, Dr. Merchant served at Interlochen Center for the Arts, Central Michigan University and Michigan State University.

Throughout his career, Dr. Merchant has prioritized having a strong presence within the greater community to build institutional growth, engagement, and success – something he wholeheartedly believes in and has carried over as BVU’s president.

Dr. Merchant, who has farming roots in the Midwest and has spent considerable time in Michigan, earned his bachelor’s degree in speech communications and theatre from Albion College, his master’s degree in agricultural extension education from Michigan State University, and his Ph.D. in educational leadership, research and technology from Western Michigan University. His ongoing scholarship focuses on venture philanthropy and its impact on shared governance structures in higher education.

He and his wife, Carrie, are the proud parents of two school-age sons, Elijah and Griffin.