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School Overview

    • Founded:
    • 1891
    • Size:
    • Small (<5000 students)
    • Type:
    • Private non-profit
    • Category:
    • Universities, colleges
      Religiously affliated
    • Specialization:
    • Liberal Arts School 1
    • Climate:
    • Cold (Continental)
    • Location:
    • 610 West 4th Street, Storm Lake, Iowa, United States, 50588
    • Phone:
    • +18003839600
    • Setting:
    • Rural

The History of Buena Vista University

Buena Vista University is a private four-year college in Storm Lake, Iowa. Founded in 1891 as Buena Vista College, it is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. The university's 60-acre (240,000 m2) campus is situated on the shores of Storm Lake, a 3,200-acre (13 km2) natural lake. Buena Vista University's academic programs feature a balance between traditional liberal arts courses and hands-on learning opportunities, such as travel and internships. The average student-to-professor ratio is 13:1.

At its inception, the college was housed in the Storm Lake Opera House, where it remained for only a year. Old Main, the college's first building, opened in 1892, and was occupied by faculty and students until it burned down in 1956. Major construction projects in the 1950s and 1960s extended the college, which soon included three dormitories, a library, and a number of classroom buildings.

The college gained accreditation in 1952, and began to grant degrees under the authority of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The first graduate degrees were offered in 1995, at which time the college became Buena Vista University.

The main campus of Buena Vista University offers a 4-year residential collegiate experience and offers classes in 42 majors. 

Academic Highlights

The various major study areas of Buena Vista University are grouped within four schools, each of which is administered by a dean.

  • The Harold Walter Siebens School of Business
  • The School of Education
  • The School of Liberal Arts
  • The School of Science

Pre-professional programs

  • Buena Vista University also offers preprofessional programs. Specific course requirements vary with each particular professional and school area and are worked out in detail with the faculty advisor.

Life in Buena Vista University

Buena Vista University competes in 21 intercollegiate sports at the varsity level. The university is a NCAA Division III institution and a member of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Teams that compete at Buena Vista University include baseball, men's and women's basketball, cross country, football, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's tennis, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling. Roughly one out of every four Buena Vista University students participate in intercollegiate athletics.

School Ranking

Buena Vista University is ranked No. 4 in the 2020 U.S. News and World Report Best Value School Among Regional Universities in the Midwest. The ranking among 69 Midwest Universities is 28 spots ahead of the closest Iowa institution in this category.


Notable Alumni

  • Nate Bjorkgren, current assistant coach of the Toronto Raptors
  • Skip Carnine, Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from Rogers; Storm Lake native and retired educator
  • Jim Doran, football player for the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys.
  • Jim Fanning, MLB player with Chicago Cubs, first General Manager Montreal Expos
  • Carlos Martinez, kicker for the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League.
  • Randy Rahe, current head basketball coach at Weber State University
  • Jesse Schmidt, record setting wide receiver for the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League who was voted as the twenty-fifth greatest wide receiver in the league's history during the 2012 Arena Football League season.
  • Shelly M. Shelton, Republican member of the Nevada Assembly.

Acceptance Rate

Buena Vista University admissions is selective with an acceptance rate of 58%.

Other Campuses
No other campus yet.



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