BVU Implements Plan to Elevate Community Engagement

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BVU President Joshua Merchant and Dr. Ashley Farmer Hanson with members of the Storm Lake community at Thursday's Civic Action Plan press conference.

STORM LAKE, IA (02/22/2018) (readMedia)-- Buena Vista University (BVU) is one of more than 450 institutions nationwide that have committed to implementing a Civic Action Plan as part of its ongoing commitment to encourage and enhance community engagement.

The development of a Civic Action Plan was proposed by Campus Compact – a coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities (including BVU) dedicated to advancing the public purposes of higher education – in 2016 to provide campuses an opportunity to outline actionable steps they will take to maximize the impact of engagement on their campus and in their community.

"BVU's Civic Action Plan aligns seamlessly with the University's ongoing commitment to community engagement," said BVU President Joshua Merchant. "It is a comprehensive tool that allows us to deepen and build mutually beneficial partnerships with the community, prepare students to be engaged and responsible citizens, and bolster higher education for the public good. I am eager to see the positive impact that the Civic Action Plan will have on our institution and the community as a whole in the next several years."

BVU's Civic Action Plan kicked off in fall 2016 and was developed through cross-campus and community information gathering. First, the planning committee, which included representatives from across campus, completed individual assessments to evaluate the University's current role in, and commitment to, community engagement. The second phase involved norming the rankings as a group, and creating separate rankings for BVU's main campus in Storm Lake and the University's 16 degree-completion locations across the state.

"The Civic Action Plan is incredibly important because it ensures that as an institution we continue to hold ourselves accountable to our motto of Education for Service," said Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson, who was a co-chair of the planning committee and is the assistant dean for student life and director of civic engagement at BVU. "The plan not only further solidifies our commitment to the Storm Lake community, but also extends to surrounding communities where BVU has a strong presence."

The final development phase was dedicated to laying out actionable steps that the University will take over the course of the next several years to elevate future community engagement efforts. An implementation team, which includes BVU faculty and staff as well as members of the Storm Lake community, has been assembled to lead the efforts outlined in the Civic Action Plan.

The resulting Civil Action Plan presents more than 60 short-term and long-term recommendations for cultural, structural, and policy changes that will enable BVU to advance its overarching commitment to community engagement. Action items from the Civic Action Plan include, but are not limited to:

• Providing additional training for faculty, staff, students, and community members in the area of community engagement

• Hosting regular round table discussions for community members to offer input on ways to bolster community engagement

• Increasing marketing initiatives to highlight community engagement

• Identifying additional funding to support faculty development in the area of community engagement

• Encourage student membership and interaction with local nonprofit organizations

"We are proud of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are making a huge impact in Iowa and the nation, and this plan helps us increase our footprint," added Farmer-Hanson, who is also the chair of the implementation team. "I'm really excited about the initiative because it includes everyone who is a part of the BVU community, and it boosts our opportunity to serve others in a way we've never done before."

More information about BVU's Civic Action Plan can be found at

About Buena Vista University

Since 1891, Buena Vista University has prepared students for lifelong success and blends liberal arts with real-world applications. Our traditional campus on the shores of Storm Lake hosts students in a variety of majors and pre-professional programs, including elementary, secondary, and special education; business and accounting; and biological and chemical sciences. Our 16 degree-completion locations, online, and graduate programs expand student potential with a pace and academic rigor designed for working adults and a variety of class formats that make scheduling even more convenient. With an average scholarship of more than 50 percent off of tuition, BVU is an affordable option for all students. Visit