Briar Cliff's President Wharton leaves a legacy of growth and care

Throughout the year, retiring BCU president Bev Wharton has completed “Bev’s Bucket List,” a checklist of tasks suggested by students to complete. Watch the entire collection of #BevsBucketList videos above.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — As president of Briar Cliff University, Bev Wharton was never afraid to put her face out around campus – sometimes literally.

Winding down the last days of her 15-year tenure as head of the private Sioux City college, Wharton recalls a time she agreed to be on a dodgeball team of administrators matched up with the league champion student team.

I have always found it important to try to get to know the people I have worked with and here, that’s students.

— President Bev Wharton, Briar Cliff University

Having just avoided an oncoming ball, Wharton felt confident in her dodgeball abilities. Right until she turned around.

“A ball smacked me right in the face,” she remembered. “Everyone went silent and started apologizing.

I said, ‘What do you mean you’re sorry? It’s a game!’” she added.


Wharton, who will retire at the end of May, said that’s how she acted as president. Be around students, connect with the individuals who make up the institution and “just be part of the group.”

“Yes, you need to be a leader and make the tough decisions,” she said, “but it’s important to get out and relate to them (students) on a daily basis.”

In fact, Wharton made a point to get to know her students, by name, if possible. Of course, with thousands of students on campus, sometimes the names would get crossed. She recalls times where she would call students by the wrong name or by a sibling’s name.

Even those, she said, would get straightened out eventually. So why try to memorize the names and faces of each student?

“I have always found it important to try to get to know the people I have worked with and here, that’s students,” she said. “In that process, I get to know those students better, it helps Briar Cliff as an institution of higher learning and does a better job of serving our students.”

Read the entire Sioux City Journal article →

Tags: BCU, Alumni, President Wharton, Local Media