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|Motto||Mater Gratiae Caritas|
Motto in English
|Mother of Grace, Love|
|Roman Catholic (Franciscan)|
|President||Dr. Rachelle Karstens|
|Students||1129 (Fall 2019)|
|Campus||Urban (70 acres (28 ha))|
|Colors||Blue and Gold|
|Affiliations||NAIA — GPAC|
Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi
In March 1929, Mother Mary Dominica Wieneke, Major Superior of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Dubuque, along with the Most Rev. Edmond Heelan, Bishop of the Sioux City Diocese, co-founded Briar Cliff College after meeting with members of the Sioux City community, who committed to raising $25,000 to support the establishment of a Catholic women's college in Sioux City. The twelve foundresses of the College were carefully chosen by Mother Dominica. They were led by Sister Mary Servatius Greenen, who was named the first president.
On September 18, 1930, the college, named Briar Cliff after the hill on which it is located, was dedicated. Four days later, 25 women started classes in Heelan Hall, the only building on campus at the time. In 1937, the university’s two-year program was extended to four years. Fifty-five men were admitted to Briar Cliff in 1965 and co-education was formalized in 1966 with the admission of 150 full-time male students. In 1967, the campus added the residence hall Toller to the facilities available to students, and continued in 1968 with the addition of Noonan Hall. In 1982, the athletic programs also received a new venue as the Newman Flanagan Center was built to house athletic competitions, coaches' offices, and recreational classes.
New Master's programs were implemented in the summer of 2001. The college officially became a University on June 1, 2001. Online courses were first offered to students in 2006. The Center for Siouxland Research, the Center for Health Care Initiatives and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching are currently active. The first doctoral degree, the Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner, was introduced in 2013.
Briar Cliff University is situated on a scenic hilltop on the outskirts of Sioux City, a few minutes from downtown. Sioux City (which has a population of about 90,000) is located on the Missouri River and is the principal city of a three-state metropolitan area. Directly across the river are the states of South Dakota and Nebraska.
The campus includes four residence halls, as well as other buildings used for administrative, athletic, and artistic purposes. These buildings include the following:
- Toller Hall
- Alverno Hall
- Noonan Hall
- Heelan Hall
- Bishop Mueller Library
- "Briar Cliff University at Mayfair Center" Campus
- Newman Flanagan Center
- McCoy-Arnold Center
Centers for the Arts
- Briar Cliff Theater
- Meis Recital Hall
- North Hall
- Stark Student Center
- Noonan Hall
Organization and administration
Briar Cliff University is accredited as a degree-granting institution by Higher Learning Commission. It is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. It is licensed by the Iowa Department of Education to certify teachers. The social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The nursing program is accredited by the National League for Nursing. Prior to the Fall 2011 semester, the academic year consisted of three 10-week terms, September through May. As of Fall 2011, the academic year consists of two semesters, as well as a January Term, a May Term, and a Summer Term. As of 2017, the January Term was eliminated. The average class size is 14 students.
Briar Cliff offers four-year academic programs and pre-professional programs in over 30 fields of study, culminating in a Bachelor's degree. Graduate degrees offered include a Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Health Administration, Doctor of Nursing Practice, and Doctor of Physical Therapy.
Briar Cliff University teams are known as the Chargers; the teams uniform colors are royal blue and gold, matching the official colors of the university. Briar Cliff offers nine intercollegiate athletic programs for men and nine for women. Its teams, nicknamed the Chargers, compete in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) and are nationally affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, track & field, wrestling and volleyball, while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, dance, golf, soccer, softball, track & field and volleyball.
Both men's and women's basketball have strong traditions at Briar Cliff. The Women's Basketball has made countless appearances in the NAIA Women's Basketball tournament. The most recent national appearance was in the 2012-13 season, and they reached the Final Four the year before that. The Men's basketball program won the GPAC regular season  and tournament title in 2015-2016. They have been to the NAIA National Tournament twenty-one times. The last being in the 2018-2019 season, where they made it to the Elite 8 before being eliminated.
During the late 1970s and continuing into the 1980s, the Briar Cliff men's basketball head coach Ray Nacke was able to recruit players from Panama to play basketball for him. These players, labeled the 'Panama Pipeline' by a 1981 Sports Illustrated article, included several players who played for the Panama men's national basketball team, such as Eddie Warren, Mario Butler, Ernesto "Tito" Malcolm, Mario Galvez, Reggie Grenald, and, fan favorite, Rolando Frazer. The Pipeline helped Nacke's squad to a number of NAIA Regional Championships, a number of berths in the NAIA National Tournament, and, in 1981, earned a #1 national ranking for the first, and only, time in Charger history.
Track and field
The Chargers track and field program has a history of both individual, and team success. In 2000, Sharline Maxwell became the first Charger to win an individual national championship in any sport. She did so by winning the NAIA Indoor Championship in the 400m dash. Maxwell would go on to win two more championship in her time at Briar Cliff. More recently, the Charger men have been a frequent visitor to the NAIA Championships, both indoor and outdoor. In 2013, The Briar Cliff men's track team took four individuals to the NAIA Indoor Championships, and returned with four, individual All-Americans. This group was highlighted by Augustus Cowan who won a national title in triple jump.
In 2001, Briar Cliff began its football program, while 2003 marked the first official varsity season for the program. In their first year, the Chargers garnered a 0-10 record. The following year, the team recorded its first win, one of three on the season. To date, the Chargers have compiled a record of 33-119. The Briar Cliff football team played their home games at Memorial Field until 2013 when they began playing home games at the Dakota Dome, on the campus of the University of South Dakota, about 39 miles northwest. In 2017 the Chargers returned to Sioux City and to Memorial Field thanks to a partnership with Bishop Heelan Catholic High School.
Baseball and softball
Briar Cliff University offers both baseball and softball as spring sports. Each one of these teams competes in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. The baseball team plays their home games at Bishop Mueller Field, a baseball complex shared with Bishop Heelan High School. After previously playing their home games at the SYA Riverside Complex, the BCU softball team moved back to the university's campus in 2013, where they too share the field with Bishop Heelan High School.
In 2005, Briar Cliff University Baseball upset Bellevue University, ending Bellevue's 10-year run of winning the Region 4 title, to make it to the Super Regional Round against Dakota State. Briar Cliff swept the two games of the super regionals winning an extra-inning affair (7-6) and closing out Dakota State with a blowout win (13-1) to advance to the 2005 Avista NAIA College World Series. Briar Cliff would lose to Spalding University (9-3) and to Biola University (4-1). This was their first and only appearance in the NAIA College World Series. More recently, in 2015 the BCU baseball team won the GPAC conference with a conference record of (14-6), snapping the team's streak of 6 straight losing seasons.
In 2015, the chargers were runner-ups in the GPAC and 2016 GPAC Champs.
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