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Beverly Wharton

University President

Department: President's Office
Phone: 712-279-5400
Office Location: Noonan 101


  • M.B.A., University of South Dakota
  • B.S., Administrative Services, Southern Illinois University


Bev Wharton has been the president of Briar Cliff University for 15 years, the longest among presidents in the University’s storied history. She became Briar Cliff’s ninth president on June 1, 2001 — also the exact date the institution officially raised its status from a college to a university. Since then, President Wharton has had an enormous impact championing the growth and broadening of the University’s ambitions. 

Under President Wharton’s leadership:

  • The University’s net assets grew to nearly $30 million from $18.6 million, and endowment increased by nearly one-third. 
  • Briar Cliff established an online degree completion program and launched several new graduate programs, including the first and only two doctoral degrees offered in northwest Iowa: a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Doctor of Physical Therapy*. Since 2001, graduate enrollment at BCU has grown eightfold.
  • The University has earned national recognition for academic excellence, including continuing distinction as a Best Regional College by U.S. News and World Report, a Top Military Friendly School and a STEM Jobs Approved College.
  • An $11 million renovation was completed on iconic Heelan Hall, transforming the university’s main academic building with the inclusion of state-of-the-art science and nursing laboratories, a cutting-edge digital media center and the 8,000-square foot Roth Atrium that has become the hub of student activity on campus.
  • Student experiential learning and service opportunities expanded locally, nationally and abroad; leading to Briar Cliff’s continuing recognition as a President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll institution. Regular mission trips to Honduras and Guatemala were initiated, along with an exchange program between BCU and the Catholic University of Korea, further globalizing the student experience.
  • Student co-curricular opportunities also expanded, including the addition of football, dance, cheer and men’s volleyball programs.
  • Briar Cliff started an ENACTUS team, a group of entrepreneurial-minded business students that has advanced to the national level of competition for 12 consecutive years. In 2007, the national ENACTUS organization (formerly Students in Free Enterprise, or SIFE) named President Wharton the nation’s Most Supportive University President of the Year.
  • The Higher Learning Commission twice awarded Briar Cliff re-accreditation for the maximum 10 years. 
  • The innovative “Learning Communities” initiative was introduced, resulting in increased retention and additional national recognition for the University.

Prior to Briar Cliff Wharton worked more than 20 years for MidAmerican Energy, where she held various senior executive positions including the President of Midwest Gas Operations. She served on the Briar Cliff Board of Trustees from 1994 until accepting her interim position as University president in 2001.

Leadership Roles

Wharton has taken on various leadership roles beyond Briar Cliff. She was the first woman chair of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce. She coordinated the Sioux City Vision Iowa Project, which led to the construction of the Tyson Events Center; co-chaired the committee that led to Sioux City’s designation as one of three “Great Places in Iowa”; and was appointed by the Governor of Iowa to the Rebuild Iowa Advisory Committee. Wharton has served as chair of the United Way of Siouxland, interim development director for the Catholic Schools of Sioux City, co-coordinator of the Sioux City census project, an advisory board member for the Sioux City Growth Organization and chair of the Council of Presidents for the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC). She currently chairs the board of directors for the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (AFCU).

Service & Volunteerism

Always mindful of giving back to the community, Wharton has been a constant volunteer for numerous other Siouxland non-profit agencies and community organizations:  The Siouxland Foundation, Sioux City Rotary, Sioux City Symphony, Siouxland United Way, Salvation Army, March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity, Siouxland Y (now the Norm Waitt, Sr. YMCA), Mercy Medical Center and the Diocese of Sioux City. Wharton is also parish director for the Church of the Nativity in Sioux City.

Awards & Honors

Wharton has been recognized in various ways for her contributions to the community, including the Sioux City Rotary “Key Way” award, “Distinguished Alumna of the Year” from the University of South Dakota, “Iowa Up-and-Comers” from the Des Moines Register, “Hall of Fame Laureate” from Junior Achievement; and “Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser” from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

*Effective April 29, 2015, the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Briar Cliff University has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314; phone: 703-706-3245; email: Candidate for Accreditation is a pre-accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates that the program is progressing toward accreditation and may matriculate students in technical/professional courses. Candidate for Accreditation is not an accreditation status nor does it assure eventual accreditation.