Buena Vista University is a private 4-year college located 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 m) campus is situated on the shores of Storm Lake, a 3,200-acre (13 km) natural lake. BVU's academic programs feature a balance between traditional liberal arts courses and hands-on learning opportunities, such as travel and internships. The university awards its faculty with the $30,000 George Wythe Award for Teaching Excellence, one of the largest faculty awards in the nation. 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 serves approximately 1,200 students each academic year, and currently offers classes in 42 majors. Fifteen additional locations throughout Iowa and online serve about 1,400 students as part of the Graduate & Professional Studies program. The university is ranked in the top 20 Midwestern Comprehensive Colleges, as reported by U.S.News and World Report's college rankings. In 2009, BVU was ranked 11th for academic quality in the Midwestern Baccalaureate category.