BVU Student Success Vice President Returns to Midwest Roots

Dr. Heather Black, who affirmed her values through co-curricular activities and service to others as an undergraduate, will work to ensure success for BVU students.

Buena Vista University has named Dr. Heather Black its new Vice President for Student Success.

Black, who currently serves as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pa., assumes her role at BVU in mid-August.

A native of Excelsior Springs, Mo., just north of Kansas City, Black earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She would earn her master’s degree at the University of Toledo, then completed her Ed.D. in higher education management from the University of Pittsburgh. Along the way, she has carved out a career in service to students, leading staffs in their commitment to supporting student success through student-centered and inclusive values, programs, and services.

“I remember earning a job during my undergraduate experience at UMKC where I figured out how I loved co-curricular activities and service to others,” Black says. “Through those activities in college, I could affirm my values. I could discover my passions.”

“Heather’s experiences in working with a broad array of students and student-centered activities and issues over the past 15 years provide a foundation of success, empathy, and enthusiasm.”

Dr. Brian Lenzmeier, President

Ultimately, those experiences became base points for career roles in student affairs, residence life, student activities, and more.

“I love helping students enjoy their educational experience while allowing them the chance to discover themselves,” Black says.

“Heather’s experiences in working with a broad array of students and student-centered activities and issues over the past 15 years provide a foundation of success, empathy, and enthusiasm,” says BVU President Brian Lenzmeier. “Her knowledge, leadership, and willingness to serve others make her a natural fit for all that we’re working to accomplish with students and our community at BVU.”

Black says she was drawn back to the Midwest by BVU’s Student Success mission and the University’s overarching “Education for Service” motto.

“BVU’s ‘Education for Service’ resonated with me personally and professionally,” she says. “I heard that theme come alive over and over as I spoke with BVU students and heard about their experiences in helping others. It’s important to give back and to be in a place where we think about how we give back to others.”

Black says she’s eager to meet students and engage with them, not only in Student Success, but within BVU’s Center for Diversity & Inclusion, its Career & Leadership Development, and more.

“Before interviewing, I had never been to Storm Lake,” says Black, who notes how she enjoys reading, baking, traveling, and walking her three dogs, a collection she affectionately refers to as ‘The Black Pack.’

“BVU has such a beautiful campus with the lake right there and the Rec House as a resource for students,” she says. “It is wonderful how there are so many public parks lining the lakeshore for people to use and enjoy. You don’t see that often, where the public has that kind of beautiful, immediate access.”

Black’s goal is to soak up the sights and sounds of BVU and Storm Lake while immersing herself in the wants and needs of students she and her staff serve. Her ultimate goal is to help each student reach that point where they cross the stage, BVU diploma in-hand, ready to serve.

“I am constantly energized by the opportunity to help even just one student,” says Black, a first-generation college student whose grandparents reside in Shenandoah. “Our staff will work to make sure BVU students are ready for their next step. This is my passion. Now, it feels like I’m coming home. I’m honored to be chosen to serve BVU.”