BVU Cuts Global Fellows Program


Photo contributions from Global Fellows

Jordyn Daggs-Olson, Assistant News Editor

The Global Fellows program was terminated at Buena Vista University as of early August. The cut came as a result of Dr. Melinda Coogan’s resignation, the program’s leader for the past several years. In addition to Coogan’s departure, the finances and lack of time played an important part in the decision to cancel this year’s trip and halt future plans for the program.  

The Global Fellows Program was a travel opportunity for second-year students, one that aimed to create ambassadors for global perspective and global travel during students’ time at BVU. The six students selected spring of their freshman year were to travel to the southern tip of Chile during January of their sophomore year. The selection process included an essay focused on globalization as a BVU student. Following the trip to Chile, students would work to continue being globally-engaged citizens through education and work within the Storm Lake community and beyond.  

As part of the Global Fellows program, a fellow faculty member has always accompanied Dr. Coogan and the selected students through the prep work and the January trip. The assistant faculty member this year would have been Miranda Pollock, who also resigned over the summer. The departure of both Coogan and Pollock was very sudden for the university.  

“It was pure chance that both professors left at the same time and it was very sad to see them leave. Dr. Coogan had done a lot to prepare for the program. She has been leading the trip for the last several years,” said Dr. Peter Steinfeld, dean of faculty.    

Although Coogan was leaving, she did not want to let her students down by cancelling the program.

“When I knew I would not be returning to BVU, I talked with several BVU faculty members and suggested names to Peter [Steinfeld] as to possible substitute faculty leaders [for the trip],” Coogan said.

However, the university decided to cancel the trip due to other factors that affected it.

“While she did have co-leaders that went with the group, she was the one that had the connection in Chile and with North Texas University,” Steinfeld said.  “After much thought, it seemed like a difficult task to give someone else of getting up to speed with the organizational piece of the trip. The Global Fellows program is an amazing experience for our best and brightest students. However, with everything else going on and the ever-increasing expenses for the trip, it was decided to cancel the trip.”  

The students that had been selected for this year’s trip were Dominic Armitage, Emma Bloom, Jordyn Daggs-Olson, Elizabeth Reiva, Claire Stepan, and Cole Thomas. Elizabeth Reiva, a sophomore Environmental Science major from Sioux City, was upset after hearing about the cancelation of the Global Fellows program.  

“I was very disappointed to hear about Dr. Coogan’s departure. I was looking forward to being in a new environment outside of Iowa and getting to experience Chilean culture.”  

Looking ahead, Elizabeth still plans to travel and hopes to see the Global Fellows program rebuilt for future classes. “It [Global Fellows] is such a great opportunity. I would like to see it expanded past the initial trip so there can be a real experience for what being a global fellow is,” said Reiva.   

The faculty of Buena Vista University hope to bring a replacement program in the future. Steinfeld looks forward to the possibilities of how to promote global travel through a new program. 

“There are ideas floating around, but everything is the beginning stages, so I can’t give out too much information. However, we hope to announce our ideas soon because we still want to promote travel with freshmen students as there is no better opportunity to get a better perspective of the world around you,” explained Steinfeld. 

For this year’s Global Fellows, Buena Vista University made the decision to allow the students to select one of the trips that will be traveling in January or May/June. The students will have to pay the same price they would have for the Chile trip, and BVU will cover the rest of the expenses.