Soren Grieve

The time that Soren Grieve has been working as the leader of an academic department at Briar Cliff University isn’t overly long, but she has quickly come to recognize the faculty in health sciences and kinesiology & human performance are a very student-directed group of colleagues.

Department Chair Grieve said, “I am the luckiest department chair in this university because the four of us work together so well. We complement each other with the skills and knowledge that we have. All four of us as a group want this to be the best department on campus, and we put a lot of energy into making that happen.”

Grieve added that there is also a collegial spirit broadly on campus.

“Everybody works so hard to help students succeed. That is one of the foundational themes here at Briar Cliff,” she said. “Briar Cliff is very mission-focused. Our mission is our students. Everybody buys it, everybody is in on that mission.”

Grieve is a native of the Siouxland area who graduated from Sioux City East High School. After an undergraduate degree from the University of Washington and an advanced degree from Columbia University in New York, Grieve moved back to Sioux City in 1998 to work as a physical therapist for Mercy Medical Center.

As time went on, she also worked for the federal Veterans Administration in Dakota Dunes, where Grieve had a lot of patients who were in chronic pain, so she completed an advanced certification as a pain specialist. While getting the certification, she started giving lectures on pain science from which Grieve learned she really liked teaching, much as she had enjoyed instructing physical therapy students during their clinical experiences.

A connection with a Briar Cliff faculty member led to Grieve beginning to teach in an adjunct fashion in the fall of 2019 and by the 2020-21 academic year, she became a full-time professor. After turnover in the chair position, she became chair of the health sciences and kinesiology & human performance departments.

“I feel like we accomplished a lot in the first year,” she said. Grieve readily made a mark that was noticed on campus, as in a May ceremony she earned the Innovation Award for the 2022-23 year.

There are three other professors in the department, two of whom advise students who are kinesiology majors, while the other two advise human performance majors.

“They are all excellent teachers in different ways and are all passionate about preparing students for their future goals,” Grieve said.

There are usually about 65 to 70 students in the kinesiology & human performance program in recent years, with about 10 to 15 graduating per year. Several go on to get their Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, while others go into Athletic Training and other advanced degree programs. Other recent graduates have become strength & conditioning specialists, coaches, personal trainers, or other health and wellness professionals.

Because they are on a pre-health science track, students in kinesiology take more science courses than students in human performance. Grieve is proud of the full year that program students will have in experiential learning, as they participate in an on-campus practicum for one semester and then spend an additional semester in an off-campus internship.

“By the time they graduate, they have two semesters of work experience,” she said.

Grieve acknowledged her first year as chair had a steep learning curve and expressed gratefulness for the support from chairs in other academic departments at The Cliff. She also has valued the aid from one more person, Marian Pesky, an emeritus professor.

“It is because of Marian's support that the department is as strong as it is today. Marian built this kinesiology program and really wants to continue to see it succeed,” Grieve said.

This is part of a Faculty Stories series profiling all the chairs of BCU academic departments in 2023.