Briar Cliff University Hosts Inauguration of 12th President
September 15, 2023
Briar Cliff University hosted its 12th Inauguration Ceremony for President Dr. Patrick J. Schulte. Dr. Schulte was named President in March after serving as the interim President since July 2022.
“When Briar Cliff was founded in 1930, it started as a hill covered in briar patches. But two people, Mother Mary Dominica Wieneke, Major Superior of the Sisters of Saint Francis, and Most Reverend Edmond Heelan, Bishop of the Sioux City Diocese, had a dream,” said Steve Stouffer, Briar Cliff University Board of Trustees Chair. “The dream, supported and made possible by 12 foundresses, has led us here today. I share this story as it has motivated Dr. Schulte throughout his career and the start of his presidency at Briar Cliff.”
A native of central Minnesota, Dr. Schulte has spent much of his professional career in finance and administration across various educational institutions. He joined Briar Cliff as the Vice President of Finance and Administration in June 2021.
“The future leaders of tomorrow are in our student section today. I truly believe a future President of Briar Cliff is in the student section as well. My path to this presidency was definitely not prescribed or predictable,” said Dr. Patrick J. Schulte, President of Briar Cliff University. “I stand before you today as an example of what can happen if you believe wholeheartedly that anything is possible. Education, faith, and hope are essential to unlocking so many opportunities – including a presidency like this.”
During his tenure as Interim President and President, Dr. Schulte and his cabinet have initiated multiple projects to enhance the quality of life at Briar Cliff.
In September of 2022, Briar Cliff announced a fundraising campaign for a new indoor recreation facility on campus. This facility would allow student-athletes to train and practice on campus during the entire calendar year. The Charger Dome will also be accessible to community members. The institution was able to secure a lead gift with a goal of fundraising $12 million dollars.
In February of 2023, Briar Cliff began a $4.5 million renovation to Alverno Hall, the institution's largest residence hall. The renovation will include new flooring, paint, windows, furniture, bathrooms, and more. The president’s cabinet worked alongside current students to assist in the redesign of dorm rooms.
In March of 2023, Briar Cliff announced an aggressive redesign to the Health Care Workforce Training Facility backed by a $2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). The original project was the renovation of the first floor of Toller Hall to become a healthcare workforce training facility. The project has evolved into the College of Health and Equity, allowing the institution to relocate health science disciplines within the college to one building.
In April of 2023, the University announced they would be turfing Faber Field, the current home to both soccer programs on campus. Through partnerships and donations, Briar Cliff secured funds to turf the field and support soccer and football in the future. Charger Football hosted its annual spring game for the first time on Faber Field in April of 2023. The completion of the project is slated for early October.
“Since joining Briar Cliff in 2021, I have had the privilege of witnessing incredible and history-making improvements. Our community is capable of making a huge impact on the lives of every Charger that walks through our doors,” said Schulte. “I truly believe that everyone at Briar Cliff, the students, the faculty, the staff, and the Trustees have listened to a calling. They are working diligently to answer this call, and I cannot tell you how excited I am as we all work together each day to move Briar Cliff forward with pride in our purpose as we prepare for our future.”
Throughout the week, Briar Cliff hosted various events surrounding the institution's celebration.
Thursday night, BCU hosted a reception dedicated to the newly painted Heelan Hall Mural and the outdoor stairs' remodel. The mural is inspired by an image taken on March 13, 1930, when Bishop Heelan and the founding sisters laid the cornerstone of the institution. Over the summer, the south stairs received a new coat of paint and maintenance. The stairs symbolize the journey of the founding Sisters and all who embark on a journey at The Cliff.
On Saturday, Briar Cliff will hold a student service project and a field day. Students will host a donation drive around the Siouxland community, with donations going towards Mater Dei, Mary’s Choice, and the Holy Cross’ We Care Project. The Field Day will be held in Heffernan Mall, with activities such as axe throwing, tug of war, cornhole, sack races, and more.
On Monday evening, Briar Cliff will wrap up the Inauguration events with the Founder’s 5K/Sister Arnold Walk. The event combines Dr. Schulte’s passion for running and pays tribute to a beloved professor, Sr. Arnold, who took a daily walk during her tenure at Briar Cliff.