Lenzmeier serves as Interim Vice President; internal search underway

Madeleine McCormick, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Professor of Biology at Buena Vista University (BVU) Dr. Brian Lenzmeier has accepted the role of Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) and Dean of Faculty until June 2018.

Photo Courtesy of BVU Marketing & Communications

The position was previously held by Dr. Jim Salvucci, who managed VPAA responsibilities for a year prior to stepping down in December in pursuit of other opportunities, according to Dr. Joshua Merchant, President of Buena Vista University.

Merchant, along with Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Shawn Stone, professor of physics and computer science, among others, have launched an official, internal search to fill the position during before the conclusion of spring semester 2018, according to the Office of the President.

An internal search means that BVU will hire its permanent academic administrator from within the current BVU faculty. Lenzmeier will remain in place until the permanent hire is made.

“Ultimately, it came to having a conversation with [Dr. Lenzmeier],  which he thought about it, and said yes he would do it on an interim basis while we ran the search,” Merchant said.

Merchant hopes the internal search for a newly titled university position, “Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs,” will allow the university to continue managing and reorganizing academic programs, accreditation, and strategic planning.

“The University is at a critical juncture,” said Merchant in a position description release. “Our next academic leader will be a critical component.”

Lenzmeier came to BVU in 2003 and has taught courses in biology, chemistry, and biochemistry. Lenzmeier was the 2009 recipient of the George Wythe Award for Excellence in Teaching and worked with students to collaborate on projects ranging from studying enzyme kinetics to cancer research.

However, his new position as VPAA and Dean of Faculty has drawn Lenzmeier out of Estelle Siebens Science Center and into the administrative offices of Dixon-Eilers Hall.

The VPAA position oversees all programs and people affiliated with academics at BVU. The same will continue for the new Provost position, which is a more modern title given to senior academic administrative officers at colleges and universities, according to Merchant.

Aside from continuing to teach a 400-level biochemistry course, Lenzmeier ensures the university keeps track of accreditation, a process evaluating colleges and universities on their unique ability to meet acceptable standards of  higher education.

“I work directly with the deans, and do a number of things that impact students. Most of my work is indirectly impacting students, but it does impact students,” said Lenzmeier. “I also would say that one of my important roles is development of the faculty, so finding resources to help faculty keep up and develop their teaching skills and supporting that.”

Both Lenzmeier and Merchant agree that the Provost position needs to be held by someone who knows the university well and has a knowledgeable sense of the Storm Lake and surrounding communities. Merchant wrote in the position description that the individual needs to embody “a keen sense of community – both internally and externally.”

Merchant says he will ensure that the appropriate resources will be made available to assist the final candidate with professional development and transition and encourages all eligible and interested faculty to apply.

“We will go through the process just like we would an external search,” said Merchant. “The search committee will vet candidates. They will select candidates for full-day interviews on campus, and then they will make a recommendation back to me as far as acceptable or non-acceptable [for the position].”

Interested faculty are submitting application materials now, and the permanent Provost at BVU should be in place by the end of the spring semester.