President announces beginning plans for new programs at BVU


Olivia Wieseler, News Editor

Picture it. You are marching down the field with your instrument in hand, ready to play the halftime show. Or maybe you are drawing back your bowstring right before you release the arrow into the bullseye. Or you could possibly be soaring high up in the air, flipping and twirling for the judges at nationals. According to President Merchant, the plan is to make all of these things now possible through the implementation of new programs coming to Buena Vista University (BVU). 

On February 21, President Merchant held a BVU community meeting open to the public to share about plans for these programs. Merchant spoke of starting a marching band, creating a trapshooting and archery team, and sending cheer and dance teams to competitive contests.   

Although all these programs are still in the very beginning planning stages, Merchant has already begun brainstorming ideas for each program. 

BVU used to have a marching band up until the earlier 1990’s. However, the fact that it is no longer was one of the most surprising things Merchant found out about BVU when he came here. 

“Especially when you go to that first football game, and you’re like ‘Where’s the band?’” says Merchant. “The band adds so much energy to the experience.” 

After talking with prospective students, he realized that it surprised a lot of them too. A few even expressed to him how much they wanted to play in a marching band but also go to BVU, according to Merchant.   

Mike Frantz, Vice President of Enrollment Management, points out that students often look for schools where they can further a career in an activity they enjoyed in high school, and marching band is one of them. 

“They look for those favored high school activities in a college, and if you don’t have it, maybe they’ll come here, but the likelihood is they won’t,” says Frantz. 

A lot of times, students will look towards larger state universities because they most likely have the program they are looking for, but often times the selection for being a part of those programs is competitive.  According to Frantz, small schools need to take advantage of it. 

“There is a place for small schools to fill a void that can’t be filled by the state universities,” Frantz says. 

It will help increase enrollment and keep students here at BVU. Merchant hopes to post a position for marching band director by late spring and hire in early summer. 

But the marching band is only one potential program. Merchant also spoke of trapshooting and archery.  With both of his children currently in the sport, Merchant notices its growing popularity. 

“It’s also relevant to where we are geographically located,” says Merchant. “In Northwest Iowa, which connected to Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska, a lot of kids in high school are part of the trap teams or archery teams.” 

According to Frantz, the formation of this program is in the very beginning stages as well.  Merchant and his team are trying to figure out technicalities like advising or coaching, funding, and where to store the equipment. But that will come, and Merchant’s excitement will drive it. 

“It’s just another opportunity for students who want to be involved in something that’s really of interest to them and that they’re passionate about,” says Merchant.  

Merchant does not just have plans for new programs, but also hopes to add to an old one as well.  BVU currently has a cheer team and a dance team, but Merchant wants to get a full-time coach for cheerleading along with a possibly full-time assistant coach for the dance team. His idea is to create competitive teams, whether they are the same as, or separate from, the current sideline cheer team and the halftime-performing dance team. 

“It is a whole group of individuals…who love the competitive piece, the gymnastics piece,” Merchant says.   

Other schools, including Iowa State, use these programs to recruit students from all over the country, according to Merchant. That is why the president strongly believes in a competitive program like this. He wants to create another platform that will provide young people the opportunity to come to BVU and enjoy what it has to offer. 

Merchant and Frantz say that all of these new programs are still in the discussion of ideas stage in their planning.   

“This is our running start which will be likely a part of a much bigger set of potential programs helping us move forward and grow enrollment,” says Frantz. 

Right now, these programs are only a little more than ideas, and if something comes up as they are planning them that sends up red flags, they will make sure to address it. 

“We don’t want to push a square peg in a round hole,” Merchant says. 

Merchant and his team of vice presidents met to discuss the implementation of these new programs in more depth on Monday, March 5. Merchant hopes that these new programs will interest prospective students to attend BVU and encourage current students to stay on campus.