Buena Vista University Inaugurates 18th President Dr. Joshua Merchant


Emily Kenny

Madeleine McCormick , Co-Editor-in-Chief

On May 4, 2018, Buena Vista University (BVU) President Dr. Joshua Merchant was officially inaugurated into office. BVU students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees, along with esteemed guests, and members of the community were present for the historic event held in Siebens Fieldhouse at 4 PM.

The inauguration ceremony was ushered in with a parade of students in white “BVU” t-shirts. Around 100 students gathered to see the inauguration of their new president. The shirts had a special feature; a small caricature of President Merchant on the sleeve, which is representative of his fun nature.

Senior Autumn Boland was happy to see the inauguration of her new president.

“President Merchant has supported us all year, so I’m excited to support him on this day,” Boland said.

After a processional song performed by the BVU Concert Band, the presentation of the colors by BVU ROTC members, and an invocation by University Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Life Rev. Ken Meissner, Chair of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of English, Dr. Gwen Hart, delivered a poem she wrote from the faculty as a welcome.

President of BVU Student Senate, Rosie Russell, delivered the student welcome to the president. She spoke of Homecoming week, when then Acting-President Merchant dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard Oz, delivering candy to his new crowd of students in the servery. President Merchant is active on Twitter, often interacting with his students on social media. Russell praised him for attending many athletic, academic and art events in his first 10 months.

Building relationships is important to President Merchant, according to those who made pledges of support in favor of a successful tenure at BVU.

Chair of the National Alumni Association Board of Directors Mr. Kevin Hoyt, Chair of Faculty Senate Dr. Shawn Stone, Mayor of the City of Storm Lake Mr. Mike Porsch, Director of Leadership Development at the Synod of Lakes and Prairies of the Presbyterian Church Rev. Dr. Deborah DeMeester, and Board of Trustees Ms. Becki Drahota, spoke of the positive relationships they look forward to building with President Merchant in the coming years.

The BVU Concert Band performed the “Academic Inaugural” written by W.B. Green. BVU Concert Choir performed a selection representative of celebration, according to Dr. Merrin Guice, with “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Immediately prior to the installation of the President, Ms. Marti K.S. Heil, and Dr. Kirk Heinze delivered tribute remarks speaking of their first experiences with President Merchant and giving well wishes to the new president and his family.

President Merchant was accompanied by his family as First Lady of BVU Carrie Merchant, placed the Presidential Medallion representing the university seal around her husband’s collar. His sons Eli and Griffin proudly hugged their dad before walking off stage, and President Merchant even received a fist bump from his youngest.

President Merchant delivered his installation address telling his students, “You are my inspiration, my motivation.”

In the touching speech, he thanked his parents for being present on such a historic and proud day for the Merchant family. He then thanked his wife Carrie, referencing her as “the girl who sat behind him in fourth grade,” which the audience quickly responded to in a chorus of “aws.”

Following his speech, in which he reiterated the theme of his presidency, “Purpose and Relevance Reimagined,” Provost Dr. Brian Lenzmeier, invited all to attend a reception in the Harold Walter Siebens Forum.

Freshman Chris Ramierez says he’s excited for the next three years with President Merchant on campus.

“It’s going to be lovely,” said Ramierez.

President Merchant officially began his term at BVU on June 26, 2017, and has had an active first year, launching many new initiatives. In his address, he emphasized the future of BVU and the hope he has for the institution.

Merchant is only the third BVU president in the last 44 years, and many felt the historic nature of the day. The inauguration celebration continues tomorrow afternoon at the BVU Block party, a community event celebrating BVU.

If you would like to follow President Merchant or First Lady Carrie Merchant on Twitter, click on their names.