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Pfeiffer University remembers Dr. Steve C. Dial '59, Professor Emeritus of Biology

stevedial3Pfeiffer University mourns the death on Feb. 9, 2012, of Pfeiffer College alumnus and former longtime faculty member Steve C. Dial '59. A professor emeritus of biology, Dr. Dial earned his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of South Carolina and returned to Pfeiffer as a faculty member in 1963. Over the next 40 years, he served the university as biology professor and department and division chair, receiving the Exemplary Teacher Award in 1996 from the Methodist Church, Division of Higher Education, as well as his field as a respected ecologist and botanist, publishing dozens of articles in scholarly journals on those subjects.


In 2008, in honor of Dr. Dial's tenure and the legacy that he left the university upon his 2003 retirement, the Harris Greenhouse was renovated and renamed the Dial Greenhouse. That effort and the accompanying fundraising campaign were led by Dr. Dial's son, Chris Dial '86.

“The imprint that Dr. Dial made on his students, his colleagues and the entire university will remain an important part of Pfeiffer for a long time,” said Michael C. Miller, president. “His legacy is one of excellence, setting a high bar of achievement for current students and faculty.”

Dr. Dial, who was born in Salisbury, N.C., on Aug. 7, 1937, is survived by his wife Carolyn. Longtime residents of Misenheimer, they have six children, all of whom graduated from Pfeiffer University. They are Michelle Dial '84 Pawel (Steven) of Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Chris '86 (Andrea) of Cary, N.C.; Sonya Dial '87 Sienerth (Karl ‘85) of Burlington, N.C.; Tara Dial '90 Mullinix (Nathan) of Oakland Township, Mich.; and Torin '91 of the Bahamas. Their son, Steve H. '84, died in 1996. Dr. Dial was preceded in death by his sister, Mari Lee Dial Weaver '67. Another sister, Judy Dial Greene '64, lives in Winter Garden, Fla.

Dr. Dial's civic and professional affiliations included the Misenheimer Lions Club; Stanly County Country Club, for which he served as director 1976-82; North Carolina Academy of Science; South Carolina Academy of Science; Association of Southeastern Biologists; National Science Institute (as a participant in Geology and Ecology of the Rocky Mountains); and Society of the Sigma Xi.

A memorial service will take place on Sun., Feb. 12, 2 p.m., at Henry Pfeiffer Chapel, Pfeiffer University, 48380 Hwy. 52N, Misenheimer. A reception will follow in the Harris Science Building.

Please share your memories or messages to the Dial family below.

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Barnett Parker 02/10/2012 (1:17 pm)  
Steve No0  

Steve was one of the reasons I joined the Pfeiffer faculty. Introduced to him by Tom Leitzel, they, together with Mike Reimer and Gerald Carpenter, persuaded me to make one of the most meaningful and positive professional decisions of my life.

Matt Clinger 02/10/2012 (1:22 pm)  
Dr. Dial No0  

I had Biology in the summer of 1993 with Dr. Dial. He was a great teacher and a good man. I am sorry to hear about his passing.

Lyndsay Vanhoy Rhodes 02/10/2012 (1:29 pm)  
Dr. Dial No0  

My mother was a graduate of Pfieffer College ('86) as an education major. I grew up hearing stories of her college days including the infamouse biology professor Dr. Steve Dial. I heard thes stories from my mother, grandmother, and grandfather. In my senior year of high school I decided to attend Pfeiffer University for my own college education. Low and behold, when I recieved my schedule for my first semester the first class was Biology 101 at 8am with Dr. Steve Dial. Dr. Dial later became my advisor and mentor who I believed helped shape not only my undergraduate education, but my career. I have gone on to attain my PhD in Molecular Biology and work currently on breast cancer research. I will always remember Dr. Dial fondly and feel blessed to have had him as a teacher and mentor. He will be missed.

Joe & Lynda Schortz 02/10/2012 (1:42 pm)  
Carolyn Dial & Family No0  

Dear Carolyn & Family, Our prayers & thoughts are with you at this time. Dr. Dial touched many lives while he was at Pfeiffer.

Ellen Brewer Blue 02/10/2012 (1:47 pm)  
Dr. Dial No0  

I do not think of Pfeiffer without thinking about Dr. Dial!! He was one of the toughest, yet one of the best professors I encountered. His often gruff demeanor could not hide the fact that he loved his students, he loved teaching and he loved Pfeiffer!! He would often remind us that he had "seen students come and seen students go......had seen presidents come and seen presidents go, but I will always be here at Pfeiffer!!" And he was!!
Dr. Dial lives on in all of his students!! I am proud that I was one of them!!
Ellen Brewer Blue

Katherine DeVore 02/10/2012 (2:00 pm)  
Dr. Dial No0  

Dr. Dial will always be one of my most memorable professors during my college career...I always felt like I was should be purchasing a ticket to his classes, he made Zoology so much fun!

A legend in his own time....

Perry Duke 02/10/2012 (2:04 pm)  
Zoology I II. (not the study of zoos) Dial would say No0  

Most insane, pompous, interesting, and entertaining prof I ever had. Used his teachings as I taught science in public ed. And still didn't get fired. Still have all hand written notes I took in class. Gave impression of aloofness but genuinely cared for my education. Hosted the Gong Show at South Stanly High where I attended and taught for 22 years. Dial wore a bowtie that lit up. Different creature. Enjoyed him. Perry Duke 1971-1973.

Marc Calderone 02/10/2012 (2:06 pm)  
Dr.Dial No0  

Dr. Dial had a major impact on my college and professional career. Although I was not a Biology major (Social Studies) he taught how to be a professional and to set standards not only as a college student but in my career as a high school teacher. He set the bar high in every class he taught. His enthusiasm for teaching was second to none. My deepest condolences for the Dial family. All those that have come in contact with Dr. Dial was truly blessed. Everyone has a Dr. Dial story. The entire Pfeiffer community has suffered a great loss and we will all celebrate his life. Thank you Dr. Dial for helping me start life after college. Marc Calderone

Michael Harmon 02/10/2012 (2:19 pm)  
In memorium No0  

Dr. Dial will forever be in my fondest memories of Pheiffer (95). I was so hungry for knowledge and he was so appreciative and reciprocated with such a wonderful depth of skill as a professor, and still maintained a sense of personality and humor rarely found in such an academically gifted person. He taught me so much and I will FOREVER remember him and cherish his unselfish willingness to help.

Rusty Hanson 02/10/2012 (2:34 pm)  
Dr. Steve Dial No0  

I was at Pfeiffer during the mid to late 60's and Steve Dial was the heart of the school. If you wanted a straight answer about school policy's ,you went to him. If you needed advice on anything ,go to Steve Dial;down in the dumps,he could cheer anyone up. I have alot of fond memories of several professors during that time but he was the best. I saw him a few times on trips back to Pfeiffer and he always remember a name even 30 years later.


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