University Leadership

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Dr. Joshua D. Merchant

President

Merchant joined BVU in 2017 as the University’s 18th president.

He 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 from Western Michigan University. His ongoing scholarship focuses on venture philanthropy and its impact on shared governance structures in higher education

With a strong belief that higher education serves the public good, Merchant has worked in education for nearly 20 years. Prior to joining BVU, he was 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., where he gained extensive experience in strategic planning, fundraising, external engagement, marketing, and enrollment management.

Merchant also worked 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 a comprehensive integrated marketing campaign and was part of an enrollment strategy that successfully increased net tuition revenue by 15 percent.

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Dr. Brian Lenzmeier

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Brian Lenzmeier joined BVU in 2003 as a professor of biology.

Lenzmeier earned his Ph.D. 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. 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.

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.

Jean Bral

Jean Bral

Vice President of Extended University Programs

Jean Bral was named vice president of Extended University Programs in October 2019. Her responsibilities include directing partnerships among community college locations and graduate programs while leading enrollment, continuing education efforts, student success initiatives, and the development of strategic collaborations.

Bral has devoted her career to Buena Vista University, most recently serving as director of the University’s graduate programs after having worked as director of operations for online, site, and graduate programs from 2011-18.

Bral, who began her career in BVU’s Admissions Department, has enjoyed roles in Financial Aid and the Registrar’s Office as well.

The 1989 BVU graduate, a psychology major, is a native of Manning. Bral, who earned a master’s degree from the University of South Dakota, serves as a volunteer at The Bridge, Summit Evangelical Free Church, and with Dory, the therapy dog serving Storm Lake Middle School, where Bral also spends time as a mentor.
 

Lucy Shaffer Croft

Dr. Lucy Shaffer Croft

Vice President for Student Success

Dr. Lucy Shaffer Croft joined BVU as vice president for student success in April 2019.

Croft is an accomplished student life professional with nearly 30 years of experience in higher education. Prior to joining BVU, Croft served as associate vice president for student affairs at the University of North Florida. She previously spent 13 years at the University of Cincinnati as director of student activities and leadership development. 

A former director of student activities at Virginia Intermont College, Croft also served as assistant director of student activities and orientation at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.

She has been a member of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) since 1986, and currently serves on the organization’s board of directors after chairing the board in 2017-18.

Croft earned an Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction, as well as a master’s degree in community counseling, from the University of Cincinnati. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication and elementary education from Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana.

Gary Klein

Gary Klein

Vice President for University Development and Alumni Engagement

Gary Klein joined BVU as vice president for University Development and Alumni Engagement in August 2019.

Klein, a proven leader in institutional advancement and development, has devoted his career to higher education. Before coming to BVU, Klein served as vice president for institutional advancement at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisc. He previously served as vice president for institutional advancement at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisc., from 2002 to 2015, and held a variety of advancement and development positions from 1996 through 2001 at St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minn.

Early in his career, Klein served the Registrar’s Office at Mount Marty College in Yankton, S.D., and the Admissions Department at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D.

Klein, who was raised on a farm near Granville, is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), a member of the National Committee on Planned Giving (NCPG), and has served the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for 22 years.
Klein, who earned a master’s degree in philanthropy and development at St. Mary’s University in Winona, majored in elementary education as an undergraduate at the University of South Dakota.

Kevin McIntyre

Kevin McIntyre

Vice President of Enrollment Management

Kevin McIntyre joined BVU in September 2018.

McIntyre has more than 30 years of experience in higher education enrollment. Before joining BVU, he served as dean of admission at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. He 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.

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Suzette Radke

Vice President for Finance and Administration

Suzette Radke was named vice president for finance and administration in 2016.

She holds a bachelor's degree in leisure services and physical education from Wartburg College, a bachelor's degree in accounting from BVU and a master's degree in professional accountancy from University of South Dakota, Vermillion. Radke has also received a certificate in advanced education leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Institute for Management and Leadership in Education.

Radke's career at BVU spans 25 years, including roles as an accountant, accounting manager and controller, and most recently director of business services and controller. Since 2012, she has served as an adjunct faculty member in BVU's Harold Walter Siebens School of Business, teaching Governmental and not-for-profit accounting.

Radke also manages the accounting for a family farm and is actively involved in the community as a member of the Baseball/Softball Improvement Commission, a Buena Vista Regional Medical Center Foundation board member, and an advisory board member for Heritage Bank NA.

John Bedward

Dr. John Bedward

Chair of the Faculty Senate

Dr. John Bedward joined BVU in 2012 as an assistant professor of STEM Education. He was named chair of the BVU faculty senate in March 2019. 

Bedward earned his Ph.D. in science education from North Carolina State University in 2012, as well as his bachelor’s and master’s in technology education from North Carolina State University. Bedward is the chair for the Northwest Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, as well as a member of the statewide science leadership team. He also serves as the Educational Researcher of Record for the S-STEM Careers Grant and was named a BVU McCorkle Fellow in 2018. 

Bedward has more than 10 years of industry experience in electronic publishing, database management, and cloud-based distributed computing. In addition to his professional career, Bedward loves to stay active and particularly enjoys running in stormy weather. Above all, he is passionate about STEM education and making an impact on the lives of young people.

Jack Denholm

Jack Denholm

Director of Athletics

Jack Denholm joined BVU as Director of Athletics in 2016.

Denholm brought more than 20 years of experience to BVU and came to the Beavers after serving as Director of Athletics at Valley City State University in Valley City, N.D., since 2010. 

The 1990 Wartburg College graduate worked as Director of Athletics and Dean of Students at Ellsworth College in Iowa Falls from 1999-2010. He also served Ellsworth as head wrestling coach until 2006 and directed the team to six top-10 finishes in the national tournament while spearheading a $7.5-million building project that featured an indoor track, multi-purpose gym, weight room, fitness facility, and more. Denholm earned a master’s degree in sports administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The two-time wrestling All-American during his collegiate days, Denholm, a native of Parkersburg, began his professional career serving as Director of Athletics and head wrestling coach at Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minn., from 1992-99.

Annamaria Elsden

Dr. Annamaria Formichella

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Dr. Annamaria Formichella was named BVU Director of Strategic Initiatives in February 2019. The two-year appointment, which asks Formichella to provide leadership and strategic oversight to the University’s strategic plan, is part of BVU’s comprehensive five-year plan that reflects the institution’s collective aspiration to move the University to a new level of excellence.

Prior to this appointment, Formichella, who came to BVU in 1998, served the University as a professor of English, a position she retains, and interim dean for the Exercise Science program from 2017-2019.

From 2016-18, Formichella was dean of the BVU School of Communication & Arts. She served as director/co-director for the University’s Gender & Women’s Studies program from 2005-06 and from 2008-17. In 2006, Formichella won the George Wythe Award, BVU’s highest honor for excellence in teaching.

Formichella, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of New Hampshire, has a master’s of fine arts in creative writing from Emerson College, a master’s degree in English and American literature at Tufts University, and a Ph.D. in American literature at Tufts University.

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Rick Pallister

Chief Marketing Officer

Rick Pallister joined BVU as chief marketing officer in June 2018.

Pallister is an accomplished executive with more than 25 years of brand strategy and marketing experience. Prior to joining BVU, he was the senior vice president at Love Scott Associates & (c)3 Marketing in Des Moines. Pallister also served as an account director at Meredith Integrated Marketing for six years, where he delivered award-winning, multi-channel, data-driven campaigns and marketing strategies to several Fortune 500 clients.

In addition, Pallister has extensive experience working in the higher education marketing sector, serving as the director of marketing at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn. and as a director of communications at Iowa State University in Ames.

Pallister earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in mass communications from Drake University. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast management and production from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville.

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Katelyn Adams

Assistant to the President and Board of Trustees

Adams joined BVU in 2018 as assistant to the president and BVU Board of Trustees. 

She earned a bachelor’s degree in corporate communications from BVU. Upon graduating, Adams served as the marketing and activities director at Storm Lake United. Later, she worked in company-wide communication for Farm Credit Services of America in Storm Lake as a consumer lending specialist. Adams has experience in event planning, organizing conferences, and working with executive leaders and board of directors across the Midwest. 

Adams is originally from Storm Lake. She spends time volunteering on the Women’s Board at Lake Creek Country Club and has been involved in Dollars for Scholars, as well as the Ambassadors program at Storm Lake United.