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Changes Highlight BVU Board of Trustees Meeting

February 18, 2020 4:02pm

The Buena Vista University Board of Trustees announced a number of changes during its recent meeting in San Antonio.

Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Norman Nielsen (pictured above) is set to complete the term of leadership service he’s held for nearly a decade on June 30. Nielsen, a 1961 BVU graduate, became a BVU Trustee in 2006 and was named Chair in 2011.

“I’ve really had an enjoyable experience as Board Chair,” says Nielsen, whose career in Iowa public education covered 45 years until his retirement as president of Kirkwood Community College in 2005. “I was very involved in the hiring of President Joshua Merchant in 2017. Josh has great energy and so many ideas for the University; and he continues to provide solid leadership in challenging times.”

Nielsen cites the hiring of President Merchant and the $15.1-million renovation of Siebens Forum as recent highlights of his tenure.

“Siebens Forum is a beautiful facility, and I was so supportive of the space to continue as a state-of-the-art School of Business, which it has remained, while also making it a true student and conference center,” says Nielsen, whose service with the Board will continue.

Nielsen’s successor as BVU Board of Trustees Chair is Michael Pierce, a Storm Lake native who has practiced law in Texas since graduating from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law four decades ago. Pierce’s family has BVU ties going back three generations, to include his grandfather, the late Dr. Howard Pierce, a 37-year member of BVU Board of Trustees, and the man for whom Pierce Hall was named.

“I am honored to have been selected as the new Chair and to have the opportunity to serve the University and its stakeholders,” says Michael Pierce, whose late brother, Tim Pierce, and uncle, Kelvin Pierce, also served the BVU Board of Trustees. “I believe we have strong, focused, and energetic leadership in Josh and his team, and am optimistic about BVU and its future.”

Pierce lauded the tireless dedication of Nielsen, the only Board Chair Pierce has known since he became a Trustee seven years ago.

“Norm was a strong and capable Chair who set a high bar for those who follow him,” Pierce says. “His leadership skills, coupled with his extensive background in education as a teacher and administrator, have enabled him to work effectively with the University’s leadership team and the Board of Trustees.”

Pierce, who joined the Board in offering an early five-year contract extension to President Merchant, says Trustees share a growing enthusiasm for the University’s future, convinced key personnel under Merchant’s guidance are delivering on strategic initiatives to strengthen the University and the region.

“Carrie and I feel very blessed, honored, and humbled,” Merchant says of his position as BVU President. “BVU and Storm Lake have quickly become home for us, thanks to our incredible students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members, all of whom we care deeply about. We feel very grateful to be a part of this University at this point in its history.”

“We are excited about President Merchant’s leadership, the University as a whole, and its prospects,” Pierce says. “The Board of Trustees appreciates how the relationships connecting the people of BVU, Storm Lake, and the region are growing even stronger.”

For Merchant, the mission continues as he joins hundreds of people in the BVU community and beyond in doing all they can to ensure the mutual success of the University and the area.

“We’ve got challenges ahead, we’ve also got great opportunities before us,” he says. “I’m honored in how members of our Board of Trustees have renewed their faith in not only me, but in a leadership team that’s working every day to bring our strategic plan to life.”