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New Faculty and Staff Start at Buena Vista University

Taylor VanHorn, Arts and Life Assistant Editor

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Over the summer, Buena Vista University hired over 19 new faculty and staff members to join the University in several departments. Some of the new faces include Brittney Dinkel, assistant professor of biology; Ann Monroe-Baillargeon, dean of education and professor of education; and Kristen Turnquist, liaison for the School of Arts and Communication. Other faculty, such as Mike Walker, took on new positions. 

Brittney Dinkel is a “visiting” assistant professor for biology. At the moment Dinkel only has a two-year contract with BVU, but she hopes to stay for much longer. Dinkel received her Ph. D at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota.  

Dinkel worked with her mentor Dr. Karen Hedin during her time there, researching T-cell activation. Dinkel says that her reason for coming to BVU is because it is a small campus like her undergrad, Nebraska Wesleyan University. She has always wanted to become a professor, so she can influence her students like her professors did for her.  

“The faculty have been amazing! I knew that this was the place for me when all the biology professors went out for coffee. Everyone was laughing and joking, and I knew I could really fit in here,” she says. 

Also joining is Dr. Ann Monroe-Baillargeon, a professor of education and the new dean of the School of Education. Before coming to BVU, she worked at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut.  

“If you told me a year ago that I would be living in Iowa, I would’ve told you that you’re crazy!” Monroe-Baillargeon says.  

She explains that when the job came across her desk, she initially put it out of her mind. Only after a second offer came through did she begin looking into the campus and the community. 

“Once I saw that the education school was a standalone school, it was a big deciding factor. Also, I noticed how beautiful the campus and the community were.”  

Putting aside other offers, she came to her onsite interview and immediately fell in love with BVU. With the semester in full swing, Dr. Monroe-Baillargeon is excited for the school year. 

Kristen Turnquist, the new academic liaison for the School of Arts and Communication, also joined the BVU staff. She completed her undergrad at Iowa State studying English. After graduating, she spent a year in China teaching English. Turnquist explains that she’s still learning the details of her new position.  

“I do know that my focus is to help incoming freshmen and potential students. So, I can answer questions about their majors, minors, or just break that barrier between the student and the professor,” she says.  

Mike Walker might not be new to campus, but he has switched to a new position. Walker has taken the position of assistant dean of students and director of student success. 

“I feel like I can show my personality a lot more now! I don’t have to be afraid to say ‘Hi’ to students in the hall, because when I was the counselor there was always that stigma that I felt that if I said ‘Hi’ to a student that their friends would just assume that they came to see me,” Walker says. 

Walker explains that he does have more responsibilities in his new position, but he is not always stuck in an office or behind a desk. He can go out and support the students and be a friendly face on campus.  

“Family is a huge part of my life. Having two toddlers and a newborn at home, counseling has always been my passion, but it took a lot of time away from my wife and kids. Having long talks with my wife and seeing if this is where my future career goals would be at is how I decided to take the position.”  

Mike Walker explains that he was on the search committee to find a new counselor that best fit BVU and the students. He knew it would be hard leaving the counseling position not only because that was his pride and joy, but also because he built relationships and trust with students that he didn’t get the chance to tell that he was leaving that role. Walker adds that he is excited to take on this new role and introduce the new counselor to the BVU community! 

The other new faculty and staff hired include Lauren Cavanaugh, professor of exercise science; David Hodge, instructor of sport business; Meghan Hurley, instructor of English; Liz Kluver, instructor of management; Tanya McCarty, instructor of curriculum and instruction; Michelle Metzger, assistant professor of education, STEM-math; Lynn O’Brien, assistant professor of professional school counseling and mental health counseling; Roger Powell, assistant professor of English; Laurie Rasmussen, instructor of mathematics; Daniel Séman, instructor of graphic design; Gary Sterling, instructor of management; and Jim Venner, instructor of agricultural science. 

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