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BVU Enrollment Grows

September 16, 2020 7:07pm

Buena Vista University’s fall enrollment increased 2.5 percent to 1,863 students, according to census figures released by the University this week.

Total enrollment is comprised of full- and part-time undergraduate students on BVU’s Storm Lake campus, as well as students receiving online and hybrid instruction through BVU and its community college partners across Iowa. The final figure comes from BVU’s graduate school programming, which set an all-time record with 407 students enrolled, far outpacing the previous standard of 363 students four years ago.

“To achieve growth from 2019 to 2020 with the challenges before us in both the longevity and uncertainly surrounding COVID-19 is remarkable, a true point of pride for BVU Admissions team members, our faculty and staff, and the students themselves,” says BVU Interim President Dr. Brian Lenzmeier. “I admire the resiliency of our freshmen, who lost out on some wonderful high school senior year traditions. And yet much of the same can be said for our returning students who headed home in March as COVID-19 necessitated we close our beautiful campus.”

The campus sprang to life in August as more than 700 students began classes and sessions with their teams and BVU clubs and organizations. The fall term hasn’t been ideal, as COVID-19 persists, a daily battle for campus communities across the country, including BVU.

“It’s inspiring to witness how our visionary faculty and staff have adjusted, and how they keep working diligently and creatively to educate and inspire the next generation of problem-solvers,” Lenzmeier says.

One of the largest freshman classes in the past decade fueled enrollment growth, a class boasting 231 freshmen from 19 states. Nearly one-quarter of the freshman class is a first-generation college student, while roughly two-thirds of the class participates in an athletic endeavor for the Beavers.

Total undergraduate enrollment on the main campus in Storm Lake comes to 733 students, same total as 2019. Total enrollment, when adding online, hybrid, and graduate school students, amounts to 1,863 students, outpacing the figure of 1,816 one year ago.

“Not only does our enrollment growth speak to the nonstop work of our Admissions teams, showing an increase like this is a credit to the commitment of everyone within the BVU community,” says BVU Vice President for Enrollment Management Kevin McIntyre, who noted that several dozen members of the freshman class didn’t experience the Storm Lake campus until arriving in August, ready to begin their undergraduate journey. Rather, they participated in virtual tours of campus online while learning all they could from Admissions counselors, fellow BVU students, and faculty members representing their key areas of interest.

“This year, unlike any other, a number of our new students took a leap of faith with BVU,” McIntyre says. “We can’t say enough about the belief students have in BVU to deliver an education designed to challenge and change students and their communities in ways we haven’t yet imagined.”

While 2020 figures aren’t yet available, every member of the Class of 2019 at BVU’s Storm Lake campus earned a job or a graduate school position in a field of their choosing. This week, U.S. News & World Report released annual rankings that showed BVU claiming the No. 3 spot in the category Best Value Schools Among Midwest Regional Universities. This ranking, among 70 colleges and universities within the category, is 29 positions ahead of its nearest Iowa competitor.

The ranking takes into account the amount of need-based financial aid students earn at BVU, including funds that come in the form of grants and scholarships, which don’t have to be repaid. One-hundred-percent of students who seek financial aid while attending BVU on the Storm Lake campus receive it.

While BVU’s strong retention rate among all classes could be attributed to the use of Zoom and other technologies during the spring semester, online instruction has played a role in attracting graduate school students from all over the U.S., allowing this sector of BVU’s enrollment to set a record with 407 students.

Master’s degree hybrid cohorts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Professional School Counseling are operating at capacity, while the online program in Organizational Leadership continues to surge as a niche degree for those professionals seeking career advancement. Teacher Leadership and Special Education graduate programs for educators remain fully online and currently feature the largest enrollment among graduate programs.

“We have an amazing team of dedicated graduate program directors, faculty, and staff who enjoy seeing our graduate students excel,” says Jean Bral, BVU Vice President for Extended University Programs. “Our delivery methods through Zoom and other online forums have made it possible for our graduate students to be employed full-time as they complete their degree.”