Dr. Brian Lenzmeier Selected as BVU President

Dr. Lenzmeier joined BVU in 2003 as Professor of Biology and has served as Interim President since May. Throughout his career he has enthusiastically worked to prepare students for roles as successful members of their communities.

The Buena Vista University Board of Trustees selected Dr. Brian Lenzmeier as BVU’s 19th President, effective immediately. Lenzmeier, who joined BVU in 2003 as a Professor of Biology, has served as Interim President since May.

In making the announcement, Board Chair Michael Pierce lauded Lenzmeier’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as his extensive knowledge of departments across the University, his command of an ever-changing educational landscape, and his history of enthusiastically working with students, and fellow faculty and staff members in preparing students for their roles as successful members of their communities.

“Dr. Lenzmeier is clearly the right choice for BVU,” said Pierce. “Brian has played a key role in many University successes, from Professor to Chair of the Faculty Senate to Dean of the Faculty to Provost and, most recently, as Interim President at one of the most critical points in time for our University.

“He has helped shape the lives of dozens of doctors, health-care providers, researchers, teachers, and more,” Pierce continued. “His steady approach and unparalleled dedication have prepared him for this seminal point in BVU’s history.”

“I came to BVU as a Professor of Biology nearly two decades ago, intent on making a difference in the lives of my students. That goal hasn’t changed since my first day here.”

Dr. Brian Lenzmeier

Lenzmeier helped guide BVU through the challenges of closing the residential campus during the onset of COVID-19 seven months ago. He then directed efforts to reopen the campus in August and worked to individually greet every member of one of the largest freshman classes in the past decade, which led to an overall enrollment increase this Fall. Since the start of the academic year, Lenzmeier has communicated with students, parents, faculty, and staff via detailed weekly email updates.

“The year 2020 has been incredibly challenging, and, for a number of reasons, also extremely memorable,” said Lenzmeier, whose background as a virologist gives him a unique perspective while helping guide the Storm Lake campus, as well as its record-setting graduate school program, and online/hybrid programming across Iowa. “Perhaps more than ever, we understand the importance of being able to adapt quickly as the environment dictates. It has been humbling and rewarding to watch our students, faculty, and staff demonstrate their resiliency each day. Their ability to succeed in a year rife with challenges continually confirms for me the transformative power of BVU.”

Lenzmeier, a native of Willmar, Minn., was an all-conference cross country athlete and resident assistant while earning his undergraduate degree in biology at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., in 1992. After earning his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Colorado State University, Lenzmeier completed post-doctoral research in molecular biology at Princeton University.

Lenzmeier was hired as a Professor of Biology at BVU in 2003 and has been with the University ever since, making his home in Storm Lake with his wife, Betsy, and their sons, Owen and Matt. A two-time BVU Faculty Member of the Year, as chosen by the Student Senate, he was the 2009 recipient of the George Wythe Award, the University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching. Lenzmeier used his Wythe Award stipend to support a sabbatical as a research fellow in molecular medicine at the Mayo Clinic in 2011.

Lenzmeier worked closely with longtime BVU Professor of Biology Dr. Richard Lampe and leaders at Buena Vista Regional Medical Center as Lampe established the University’s landmark Undergraduate Rural Medicine Education and Development (URMED) program. Now in its 12th year, the initiative has come full circle, seeing physicians who were enrolled as undergraduates in the program return to staff Storm Lake medical practices while taking time to serve as BVU visiting faculty.

Similar experiences for students in a range of disciplines has Lenzmeier motivated to lead a team primed to find even more winning strategies that benefit students and their communities.

“Our top priority centers on providing an authentic, quality experience for every student,” he said. “Thanks to the leaders and benefactors who came before me, BVU continues to position itself as a destination for quality faculty members who deliver an educational experience unmatched by our peers. Our commitment to co-curriculars, as well as online learning options for undergraduates, graduate students, and site students across Iowa and the U.S., continue to set BVU apart.”

After completing due diligence, the Buena Vista University Board of Trustees on October 20 unanimously voted to appoint Dr. Brian Lenzmeier as BVU’s 19th President, effective immediately.

“Brian has proven to be an exemplary leader, and his dedication, love for the University, and transparency will serve BVU well now and in the years that come,” said Becki Drahota, Vice Chair Board of Trustees.

“I sincerely want to thank members of the Board of Trustees for their faith and confidence in my abilities,” Lenzmeier said. “I came to BVU as a Professor of Biology nearly two decades ago, intent on making a difference in the lives of my students. That goal hasn’t changed since my first day here. What I didn’t realize was the profound impact those students, and this incredible community, would have on me, my wife, Betsy, and our sons.

“I am honored to be able to serve as the next President for a place I cherish and love, a University that will continue to lead our region, transforming lives and communities in the process,” he concluded.

Lenzmeier, an active member of the Storm Lake community, served on the Buena Vista Regional Medical Center Community Advisory Council from 2009-2011 and again from 2015-2016. He was also a member of the Faith, Hope and Charity Board of Directors from 2009-2015 and currently serves on the Iowa Lakes Corridor Board of Directors and the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Task Force. His wife, Betsy, volunteers in the Storm Lake community and is a member of the Governor’s Iowa Autism Council.