Domino effect in campus projects
While excitement continues for Buena Vista University and its new science center, BVU plans to look inward over the next couple of years in terms of both student development and the structural renovation.
BVU President Fred Moore said it has been a busy fall, which included a lecture from the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, and groundbreaking on the $26 million Science Center.
However, now the university will focus on the sense of community at BVU.
"We want to maintain the excellence, and nurture the mind, body and soul... educate the whole learner," he said. "Our goal is to be the nation's leading New American College, which is a goal we've had for quite some time."
It's the community spirit that people remember of any visit to BVU, Moore said.
"People who experience BV have told us consistently that is a strength of ours," he said.
Moore compares the BVU strategic plan to "a conversation about values," as expressed in an article about building vision in the Harvard Business Review. BVU has identified core values, which are a caring community, being learner centered, and possessing an entrepreneurial spirit. The school's core purpose is education for service. "We exist to transform lives," Moore said.
Along with the strategic plan, the BVU faculty have been working on curriculum reform, with defined objectives on what a graduate should exhibit.
"The whole curriculum reform effort was and is geared around achieving those objectives," Moore said.
The university will explore ways to do "meaningful" assessment of its students.
"We measure our own success on how students perform," he said.
With that inward twist will come a calm in new building projects. But once the new science center is completed, Moore said that will trigger a "series of dominos" in renovating other buildings on campus.
Once the new science facility is completed, it will free up space in the current facility, which is still a structurally sound facility, Moore said. The old facility will help relieve overcrowding in Smith Hall, which houses art, education and some social science classes, and on the second floor of Dixon-Eilers.
"One of the things students are thinking about quite a bit is the notion of a student union or a place they can call their own," Moore said.
Also, the servery will be renovated. It was designed to serve 950 students, but BVU has 1,250 full-time students, and there are plans to continue to develop the athletic practice fields, including for softball and baseball. Also, there will be a net gain of 100 parking spaces once the new science center is completed.
As the university looks to the future, Moore said he wants BVU to continue to get its name out. He said it is a bad thing to be considered a "best kept secret."
BVU will also look at inviting the Storm Lake and surrounding community so that it becomes more aware and more involved in the cultural opportunities available at BVU.
And while BVU students have been increasing their volunteerism, Moore said he wants to celebrate the faculty and staff and their involvement. A recent survey shows they are more involved than Moore ever thought.
"Over 70 percent (of the faculty and staff) responded at least one such engagement and many responded with more than one," he said.
At a time with a slowing stock market, BVU continues to maintain fiscal responsibility, Moore said, though he added they also want to look for new sources of revenue.
One area is alumni. BVU ranks last in the Iowa Conference in terms of alumni giving. Moore said that is a "significant challenge" to increase.
"We want to work hard to get more alumni involved in the life of the university," he said.
He said BV's National Alumni Board has been doing good work in getting alumni more involved, and said the school will have to take a different approach and reach out to alumni.
Also, Institutional Advancement plans on diversifying its pool of major gift providers. With two major campaigns back-to-back, Moore said the major donors a break.
"We need to give existing donors a rest," he said.
In terms of legislation, BVU plans to lobby the Iowa Legislature for an increase in the Iowa Tuition Grant.
"We understand the state is in tough economic situation," he said. "On other hand, when revenue starts to turn we feel it is important to invest in that program."
The tuition grant has been cut down to $3,500. Moore said he wants to see that back to $4,000, with a goal of seeing it increased to $5,000.
The Iowa Tuition Grant is an important funding source for students attending private colleges in the state.
Moore said student population should grow to 1,280 next year and then to 1,325 the following year. It will probably level off at 1,400 in the coming years, though Moore said that figure can change quickly.
Also, Moore said BVU is looking at expanding its center sites, perhaps to include more metro areas and even into other states. The first one under consideration? Oklahoma, Moore said.
"They don't have a brian drain but they have a lower college-going rate than they'd like to have," he said, adding that Oklahoma does not have many partnerships that exist like in this state.
The goal of it all, Moore said, is to provide education. And it is not for those "sequestered in an ivory tower," he said. BVU continues to be at the forefront with professional programs and place-bound learning opportunities, he said.
"We're in touch with the world around us," Moore said.