Briar Cliff University 2020-2021 Annual Report

The 2021-2022 academic year was filled with progress, growth, and opportunity. Join us in looking back at just some of these exciting moments.

Health Care Workforce Facility

Briar Cliff University was awarded a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) for $2 million and Missouri River Historical Development (MRHD) for $250 thousand. Briar Cliff will create a health care workforce training facility by renovating Toller Hall.

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College Game of Dreams

Briar Cliff University and Luther College made history on a Friday night in September 2022, playing the first-ever collegiate baseball game at the Field of Dreams Movie site in Dyersville, Iowa. The event began with a VIP pre-party, where Briar Cliff and Luther VIP ticket holders enjoyed a meal and met celebrity guest, Tony Oliva.  Oliva is a 2022 MLB Hall of Fame inductee with a resume that includes being an eight-time All-Star and 1964 American League Rookie of the Year. Oliva threw the ceremonial first pitch, followed by the National Anthem sung by Briar Cliff’s own Cliff Singers. The Chargers rolled to a 15-1 victory, led by a grand slam by Drew Peterson and a two-run shot by Cam Reimer.  Read the full athletic recap here.

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 '21-'22 Franciscan Value: Reverencing Creation
  • Campus Beautification Campaign - 100 Trees & Plantings + South Stairs Improvements
    Briar Cliff University is planting 100 new tree and plantings by our 100th anniversary in 2030. Additionally, we will be updating the historical stairs on the south side of campus which were used by our founding Sisters of St. Francis to ascend to the top of the cliff while Briar Cliff’s Heelan Hall was under construction so many years ago.

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  • On Common Ground
    A natural exploration combines science with the arts and humanities. “On Common Ground” was established to promote the stewardship of Iowa’s Loess Hills by fostering greater awareness of and appreciation for this exceptional natural landscape through print and digital media.

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Campus Ministry Move, Remodel, & Blessing

Thanks to the generous support of donors, Campus Ministry offices moved to a larger space in Heelan Hall. The space was remodeled with new flooring, paint, and furniture. The Campus Ministry department now offers space for gathering, prayer and reflection, offices, and the Charger Closet. Bishop Nickless blessed the space in March 2022.

Emphasizing Service & Support

  • Franciscan Service Cords
    Students who complete 100 hours of service or more will be awarded a service honor cord to be worn at commencement.
  • Charger Closet
    This free student support program invites the outside community to help our students by donating high-quality, up-to-date clothing, from which students can make selections for free, taking what they need to feel confident and look appropriately dressed as they take their first steps as professionals.
  • Charger Cupboard & Food Pantry
    An on-campus food pantry that provides non-perishable foods and personal care items to students in need.  

2020-2024 Strategic Plan

The world of higher education is changing at an astronomical pace. Briar Cliff University is shifting with these changes, while at the same time honoring its tradition of providing exceptional educational opportunities. Our new strategic plan is designed to inspire confidence, create markets, and seize new growth opportunities.

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New Academic Offerings

Articulation Agreements to Support Ease of Transferring

Cliff Singer Expansion

The Music Department at Briar Cliff University offered instruction for homeschool students across the Siouxland area.

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Esports Arena

Briar Cliff is proud to announce the inaugural season of Esports at the university and the new Sterling Esports Arena.  After announcing the addition of Esports in March of 2021, athletics has hired Jack Moerhke as head coach to lead the program.  Moerhke has recruited 14 student-athletes, fielding a varsity and junior varsity roster for Esports’ biggest titles, League of Legends and Valorant, along with Apex Legends.

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New House System

To help enable students to feel a sense of belonging from day one, Briar Cliff University has established the House System. The House System provides more continuity in the student experience, helping all students create a link between learning and living. Life on The Cliff goes beyond where you eat, sleep, and play. It’s the place where you’ll find a network of people to support you and make the memories that will last a lifetime.

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Advocating for Affordable Higher Education

Briar Cliff University met with representatives from local colleges and legislative delegates to discuss grants designed to support students in need.

Biology & Biochemistry Top Presenters

Briar Cliff University faculty and students participated in the 45th West Coast Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research (WCBSUR) Conference and received two outstanding poster presenter awards. A total of 66 institutions participated in the conference and 150 undergraduate students showcased their research through poster presentations. Only 25 awards were given to best presenters.

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Athletic Accomplishments

Class of 2022 Commencement Ceremony

Over 220 candidates received their degrees during the 91st commencement ceremony. 

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St. Francis Field

Nearly one million dollars was raised by alumni and friends of the university for renovations to the Bishop Mueller Complex baseball facilities. In honor to the team of Sisters who helped make Briar Cliff University possible and the support provided to the lead donor, it is now named the Sisters of St. Francis field.

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NFC Floor Refinished

Hesse Enterprises leads the support of refinishing the Newman Flannagan Floor.

New Briar Cliff Board of Trustees Chair

Mark Ward (’02) was elected as the Chair of the Board of Trustees in October 2021. A graduate of Briar Cliff, Ward received his Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education and a Master of Art in Teaching from Hastings College.

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2022 Alumni Award Winners Announced

Briar Cliff University is proud to announce the winners of the Distinguished Alumni Award and the G.O.L.D. (Graduate of the Last Decade) Award.

 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner – Micha Lally Herbst ('97)

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented each year to a Briar Cliff alumnus who lives a life reflective of our Catholic, Franciscan values; excels in professional activities reflecting skills taught at Briar Cliff; and demonstrates personal commitment to Briar Cliff in the form of hours, generosity, or ideas.

Herbst earned her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in human resource management with a minor in Spanish from Briar Cliff University. Currently, she serves as senior corporate human resources process consultant for Progressive Insurance. 

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 GOLD Alumni Award Winner – Emily Janda ('17)

The GOLD Alumni Award is presented each year to a Briar Cliff alumnus who demonstrates a commitment to living the Franciscan ideals of service, caring, and openness to all; has shown exceptional accomplishments in academic or professional pursuits; demonstrates continued engagement and stewardship with the Briar Cliff University community; and has graduated with a degree from Briar Cliff University between 2011 and 2021.

Janda earned her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Briar Cliff University in 2017. After graduation, she moved to San Francisco where she joined the Mercy Volunteer Corps and worked in a drop-in community center to serve those facing homelessness and marginalization. 

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Dr. Michael Harman - Siouxland Magazine Top Ten Under 40

Dr. Harman, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Briar Cliff University,  was nominated and selected as Siouxland Magazine's Top 10 Under 40. His impactful work within the Siouxland community, student support, and passion to serve certainly supports this accomplishment! 

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Melanie Berte-Hickey - 2021 Catholic Social Worker of the Year

Briar Cliff University Social Work professor, Melanie Berte-Hickey was awarded the 2021 Catholic Social Worker of the Year award by the Catholic Social Worker National Association.

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Dr. Willie Suarez - South Dakota World Languages Association Teacher of the Year

Dr. Willie Suárez was announced as the 2021 recipient of the Teacher of the Year Award from the South Dakota World Languages Association.

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Mark Svagera - NAIA Coach of the Year

After leading the Briar Cliff men's basketball team to a GPAC Regular Season Championship and an automatic berth to the NAIA National Tournament, head coach Mark Svagera was named the GPAC Men's Basketball Coach of the Year.

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Dr. Patrick Jacobson-Schulte, Interim President

Briar Cliff University Board of Trustees announced Patrick Jacobson-Schulte, D.B.A., (A.B.D.) as Interim President, effective July 1, 2022. Beginning Fall of 2022, Briar Cliff’s Board of Trustees will launch a presidential search, with the objective to name the university’s 12th president by July of 2023.

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Paint the States Briar Cliff Blue

Briar Cliff University is grateful for the support of alumni and friends across the nation. 







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Here to Support You and Briar Cliff University

Advancement Team
 Dr. Patrick Jacobson-Schulte, Interim President
 Michelle Boe, Vice President of University Advancement & University Counsel
Amy Derby, Director of Philanthropy
 Larry Obermeyer, Director of Resource Development & Special Projects
 Christy Stinger, Assistant Director of Development & Grants
 Adam Stenstrom, Director of Prospect Development

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