Buena Vista University Announces Program Evaluation, Launches Next Chapter for University

The process is the next step in implementing the University's Strategic Plan. The changes will be finalized in May.

Today, Buena Vista University announced it has begun a program evaluation process, which is in line with the University’s Strategic Plan, developed collaboratively in 2018 by all members of the University. 

As a part of this effort, the University will be reviewing academic and non-academic programs to ensure BVU continues to serve its mission by meeting the needs of current and future students. The process will allow BVU to address the needs of the marketplace through potential reductions and reallocation of resources in both academic and non-academic programs, in addition to growth areas which include new programs. 

“Higher education has been evolving throughout the last several years, and will continue to do so,” says Dr. Brian Lenzmeier, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Buena Vista University is keeping an eye on student trends and what they’re looking for in college, and we’re fortunate to be able to take the necessary steps to ensure a strong future from a position of strength due to the successful implementation of several initiatives from our Strategic Plan.”

The BVU Board of Trustees received initial recommendations for potential program elimination earlier this week. Those programs include: chemistry, music education, music performance, music production, and theatre. While BVU may possibly be eliminating these programs as majors, the University may still offer classes related to these areas, as well as opportunities for students to participate in a variety of ensembles such as (but not limited to), choir, marching and pep band, and other opportunities in the performing arts. All 10 faculty members potentially impacted by these recommendations have been notified. Four faculty are tenured, four are tenure-track, and two are on short-term appointments. Eighteen students may be impacted if these preliminary recommendations are approved, and BVU will work with each one to complete their degree program. No academic programs within Extended University Programs were impacted. 

The University has seen positive results from the launch of the Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Resource Management; the addition of new co-curricular programming such as the marching and pep bands; the founding of the Lamberti Center for Rural Entrepreneurship; the creation of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion; and the development of the agricultural science, agricultural business, and agricultural studies programs. 

“Our Board of Trustees directed us to continue to follow and implement these next steps in our Strategic Plan to identify opportunities for growth, streamline operations, and be bold in our effort to remain a premier institution of higher education,” says President Joshua Merchant. “As always, any recommendations or decisions we make are focused on the future of the institution and the quality of education for our students.” 

Using enrollment and student trend data, the goal of the evaluation is to determine the strength of programs, identify potential reallocation of resources to in-demand programs, the eventual creation of new initiatives and programs, and the potential elimination of existing programs. 

Between March 6, 2020 and the next Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for May 7-8, 2020, the University will follow procedures laid out in the faculty handbook, inviting faculty members and program directors the opportunity to make recommendations for Board consideration. All faculty, staff, and students were notified of the evaluation today. 

“Buena Vista University has discerning and dedicated faculty and staff and an engaged student body,” Lenzmeier says. “By focusing on our values, and following through on our plan, we can develop long-term strategies and programs that will continue to strengthen our enrollment.”

Outcomes of the evaluation will be shared after the next Board of Trustees meeting in May when the Board will review all reports and vote. Potential staff changes approved by the Board of Trustees will be communicated at this time as well. Any questions regarding the evaluation should be directed to Kelsey Clausen, director of communications, at clausenk@bvu.edu