Former BVU President named chief of staff at Oakland U

Friday, September 11, 2020

Former Buena Vista University President Joshua Merchant has resurfaced in a new position in higher education, named chief of staff for Oakland University, a school of about 19,000 in Rochester, Michigan.

In May, Merchant suddenly resigned from his position leading BVU, effective immediately, and left Storm Lake. Neither Merchant or the university offered explanation for the departure. He had been named president in 2017.

Back is his home state of Michigan, Oakland President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz had created the new position to lead her cabinet. Merchant was announced as the new hire in late August after what was described as a “lengthy” search process.

In an interview with campus media, Merchant said that his decision to return to Michigan was based on family. “We made the decision that we’d been gone a while from Michigan. Life is short, and it was an opportunity to connect with family.”

Expectations for the newly-formed position were reported to include “thinking of new and creative ways to grow the university.” The position allows him to utilize his abilities without having to carry the responsibility of being a university president, the Oakland Post article says.

Merchant holds degrees from Albion College, Michigan State University and Western Michigan University. He has worked in various fundraising and administrative positions for multiple institutions including Michigan State, Albion, Central Michigan University, North Florida University and Buena Vista.

Utilizing a quote he once used as a mantra for town-and-gown cooperation in Storm Lake, Merchant said, “I’m a big believer in the explicit connection between city and university. A stronger Oakland University is a stronger metro Detroit area and a stronger metro Detroit is a stronger Oakland University.”