Dr. Joshua Merchant named Buena Vista University President

Merchant has worked in education for the past 19 years and has extensive experience in strategic planning, fundraising, external engagement, marketing and enrollment management.

Buena Vista University’s Board of Trustees has named Dr. Joshua D. Merchant as its new president, succeeding Frederick V. Moore, who is stepping down from the position after 22 years. Merchant will assume the role of BVU president on July 1, 2017.

Merchant is the vice president of development and alumni engagement at the University of North Florida (UNF) and the executive director and CEO for the UNF Foundation, Inc. He has worked in education for the past 19 years and has extensive experience in strategic planning, fundraising, external engagement, marketing and enrollment management. Throughout his career, Merchant has prioritized having a strong presence within the greater community to build institutional growth, engagement and success.

Among Merchant’s professional accomplishments includes significantly increasing philanthropic support for UNF and successfully spearheading the UNF Foundation’s first comprehensive strategic planning process to bolster philanthropic efforts. Prior to UNF, Merchant worked at Albion College where he served as vice president of institutional advancement and as interim vice president for enrollment management. During his tenure at Albion, 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. Merchant possesses a strategic vision that presses for ever-increasing levels of education quality and student outcomes,” said Norm Nielsen, BVU chair of the Board of Trustees and presidential search committee chair. “Merchant was the Board’s top choice among three finalists and was elected by a unanimous vote. He is uniquely qualified to build upon past success, to engage current and emerging constituencies, to achieve heightened fund raising results and to maintain fiscal stability. His inspirational and strengths-based leadership style is a good fit for BVU. He is action-oriented and is grounded in integrity and collegiality.”

In selecting Merchant, BVU established a 12-member presidential search committee, including Board of Trustees, faculty, student and staff representation from various facets of the institution, and was assisted by AGB Search, LLC. Nielsen deliberated with the committee to narrow nearly 40 candidates down to three for additional campus community and Storm Lake community input before a decision was determined.

“Becoming the 18th president of Buena Vista University excites me for numerous reasons. However, one reason clearly stands above the rest; the opportunity to build on Buena Vista’s strong foundation and to lead the University to heightened levels of distinction,” said Merchant. “I unequivocally believe in BVU’s ability to preserve, as well as enhance, its traditions by articulating a riveting vision for the future that is relevant, innovative, inspirational and attentive to an evolving market landscape. Through shared ownership with faculty, staff, students and leadership, we can horizontally create and implement a comprehensive plan for BV’s future that engages the broader campus community and energize external audiences. Together we can set outcome benchmarks to navigate our future and gauge our success.”

Merchant, who has farming roots in the Midwest and has spent considerable time in Michigan, 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. He and his wife, Carrie, are the proud parents of two school age sons, Elijah and Griffin.