SIOUX CITY | President John F. Kennedy once said, "Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education." Decades later, those words ring true at Briar Cliff University, where we are making great progress in education with many new, relevant, mission-driven initiatives, partnerships and programs.


One prime example of our progress is the Center for Health Care Initiatives, or CHCI, recently established to help improve lives through education, innovation and collaboration.

"At Briar Cliff, we believe we are called upon to infuse a generation of health-care providers with Franciscan-inspired care and service," said Dr. Ted Wilson, CHCI director, associate professor of biology and chair of the division of natural and mathematical sciences at BCU. "There’s evidence of great need for health-care providers in our nation, our region and right here in our community."

The shortage of health care and lack of access to it is particularly troublesome in Siouxland's rural areas. To help remedy the issue, Briar Cliff is developing partnerships with area hospitals and clinics to provide much-needed vaccinations, flu shots, health-care screenings and more, especially for single parents and families who may be homeless or simply can't afford care.


When people think of Briar Cliff, they naturally think of high-quality health-care programs, including BCU’s nursing program, known throughout the region for excellence and rigor.

"Nursing has always been a big component of living our mission. It is one of our strengths," said Dr. Richard Petersen, professor of nursing and department chair.

Today, Briar Cliff is creating more far-reaching, innovative health-care programs. Besides an online RN-to-BSN, a Master of Science in nursing-nurse educator, BCU is in the final stages of preparing to offer a Doctor of Nurse Practice, or DNP, program.

"The DNP program is a natural fit for Briar Cliff, not only academically but from a mission perspective," said Dr. William Mangan, Briar Cliff’s academic dean. "We know we can make noticeable differences to ease shortages and prepare graduates who are distinctively well-qualified.  They are equipped with superior knowledge and expertise along with an ability to deliver the quality of care that comes from the Franciscan component of a Briar Cliff education."


BCU’s strategic plan mobilized the transformation of Heelan Hall, adding digitally equipped classrooms and top-of-the-line nursing, biology and chemistry laboratories, including a state-of-the-art molecular biology teaching laboratory. The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust awarded Briar Cliff University a grant to develop the lab.

“With this grant, BCU’s new molecular biology teaching lab will provide an incredible background with the latest equipment and tools for students and faculty to address current scientific questions and problems,” Wilson said.

“The lab will enable Briar Cliff biology majors to acquire relevant biomedical research skills, preparing them for medical school and a variety of careers in health care,” said Dr. Kelly Eder, assistant professor of biology at BCU.

“As an additional benefit, my own research in the lab will focus on how infection affects maternal and fetal health by pursuing research projects that could lead to improved pregnancy outcomes,” said Eder, who before joining BCU was a research fellow at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“As a part of BCU Vision 2020, the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust grant represents one of the building blocks in our ambitious plan to reimagine health science education,” said Briar Cliff President Beverly A. Wharton.

Briar Cliff offers numerous health-care majors, including medical laboratory science, nursing, physical education, radiologic technology, sports management and sports science. The university also has pre-professional programs in chiropractic, dentistry, medicine, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant and veterinary medicine.

Briar Cliff University is a Catholic institution with an enrollment of more than 1,100 students from 31 states and 11 countries. Students are educated in the Franciscan tradition of excellence in the liberal arts and career preparation in an environment of care, compassion and service.

For more information about how Briar Cliff is making progress, call 712-279-5200 or visit