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BVU President Asks Citizens to Join in Celebrating Storm Lake, BVU Partnerships

April 14, 2021 4:30pm

By Brian A. Lenzmeier, Ph.D.

Buena Vista University President


As we make preparations for the 2020 and 2021 Commencement exercises May 8-9 at Buena Vista University, I find myself focusing on Storm Lake and the importance of being connected to our community.

Due to COVID-19 protocols, we’re holding Commencement on Peterson Field within J. Leslie Rollins Stadium, rain or shine. (Join me in praying for shine!) For me, the most “beautiful view” at BVU is the vista one enjoys while scanning the horizon to the south, taking in the expanse of Iowa’s walleye capital; a soothing source of nourishment, cleansing, and recreation for centuries here.

To the immediate north are the signature “Victory Arch” window frames that set off the dining hall in Siebens Forum, an architectural wonder made possible through the philanthropy of the late Dr. Harold Walter Siebens, who spent his boyhood summers in Storm Lake. Dr. Siebens multiplied his gift after so many of you in Storm Lake and beyond gave what you could in the midst of the Farm Crisis to see the entrepreneurial spirit of the Siebens School of Business through to fruition.

Peering farther north, one catches the Victory Arch itself and the magnificent steeple towering above Schaller Memorial Chapel, a site that, for me, symbolizes the faith we have in God and in one another in seeing BVU and the Storm Lake community grow and flourish.

Those will be a few of my thoughts in the minutes leading to our first outdoor Commencement celebration in decades: thoughts of how this grand community helps guide us through the ages.

My wish is to keep building upon those bonds in a variety of ways. In June, for example, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds will join BVU benefactors Donald F. and Charlene K. Lamberti as we formally open The Foundry, our new business incubator serving The Lamberti Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in the heart of downtown Storm Lake. This initiative will hopefully become a resource for new business owners throughout the community.

Our professors will lead students in their study of local crops and the lake itself as we cultivate faithful growers and stewards, protecting and regenerating our soil in the “breadbasket of the world” while guarding and sustaining our waterways and Storm Lake.

Social work students have recently established a community resource called “Jane’s Closet.” Named after Jane Addams, sister-in-law of BVU’s second President, John M. Linn, and pioneering social worker and Nobel Peace Prize winner, this resource will provide free access to clothing and other critical needs for foster care children who are placed in Buena Vista County. You will hear more about this in the coming weeks.

BVU students and select professors in the School of Education will teach summer school to students in the Storm Lake Community School District in June. The University will cover our students’ housing costs in the residence halls as they work to assist our community’s youngest learners.

This summer the BVU Center for Criminal Justice Studies’ law enforcement simulator will be available to local law enforcement agencies for training sessions, providing access to a valuable professional training resource close to home for our community members.

Our partnership grows in another exciting way as we host the Storm Lake Municipal Band for rehearsals in Edson Hall, our home for vocal and instrumental programming. I join hundreds across Storm Lake in my appreciation for the Municipal Band concerts in the Sunset Park Bandshell. BVU is committed to supporting these volunteer musicians as they work to bring us enjoyment throughout the summer at one of the most picturesque spots in Iowa, a place whose beautiful sound will match its beautiful view.

As we slowly emerge from a school year that has forced us to be quite insular in many ways, I look forward to opening up again and building BVU’s connections to Storm Lake and the region. I have always loved that we use the word Commencement when we celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates. Commencement means new beginnings for our graduates. It also means new beginnings for BVU.