Dr. Joshua D. Merchant
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.
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.
Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson
Interim Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson was named interim vice president of student affairs and dean of students in June 2018.
Farmer-Hanson joined BVU in 2007 as the director of civic engagement and was named the assistant dean for student life in 2014. During her tenure at BVU, Farmer-Hanson has led the assessment of the Division of Student Affairs, taught courses in both undergraduate and graduate programs, and served as the deputy title IX coordinator.
She has a master’s degree in student affairs administration from Wisconsin–La Crosse, an Ed.D. in education administration: higher education from the University of South Dakota, and a bachelor’s degree from BVU.
Farmer-Hanson has brought BVU’s Office of Civic Engagement to national recognition and has published and presented nationally in the areas of community engagement, social justice, and diversity. Farmer-Hanson has also served on the Iowa Commission for Volunteer Service (a Governor appointed position), as well as the Iowa Campus Compact Board of Directors.
Vice President for University Development and Alumni Engagement
Lawrence Johnson joined BVU as vice president for university development and alumni engagement in 2018.
Johnson is an accomplished advancement professional with more than 24 years of higher education experience. Prior to joining BVU, he served as senior director of development at Carroll University. He also spent 12 years at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where he served as senior director of development for the Labovitz School of Business and Economics.
Johnson also previously worked as director of gift planning at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota; a development associate at the North Dakota State University Foundation; an alumni and annual fund director at the University of Jamestown; and director of alumni affairs and assistant director of development at St. John's University. In 2015, Johnson retired with 30 years of service as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve.
Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from California State University Long Beach, and a master’s degree in student affairs administration in higher education from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
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.
Dr. Matthew Packer
Chair of the Faculty Senate
Dr. Matthew Packer joined BVU in 2007 as an assistant professor of English. He was named chair of the BVU faculty senate in May 2018.
Packer serves as co-director of University Seminar and was also named a 2017 finalist for the George Wythe Award- the University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching. He earned his Ph.D. in English from West Virginia University in 2006, as well as his bachelor’s and master’s in English from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. While some of Packer’s best moments have been spent with students and colleagues on academic trips to China, Iceland, Cuba, Rwanda, and more, he also enjoys sailing on Storm Lake and spending time on BVU’s “oasis” of a campus.
He is an avid reader who encourages students to ask good questions and explore new ideas. Packer’s research interests include contemporary and postcolonial literature and René Girard’s mimetic theory. He’s published on a range of authors including Don DeLillo and John Dos Passos, as well as the U.S.-China rivalry.
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.
Assistant to the President and Board of Trustees
Williams joined BVU as assistant to the president in 2013. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Iowa State University (ISU).
Prior to joining BVU, Williams was a development coordinator for ISU’s College of Engineering Development Office. She has also served as an Office of Admissions student supervisor at ISU where she managed a staff of 20 student admissions representatives.