Graduates at May Commencement Urged to Lead During ‘Fourth Turning’
As authors William Strauss and Neil Howe predicted in their book The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy (1997, Three Rivers Press), the United States has entered a period of fundamental civic and economic unrest that began around 2010 and will last well into the 2020s. Pfeiffer University’s newest graduates should respond to the crisis as servant leaders intent on renewal.
That’s the message that Roger L. Dick conveyed in a keynote address at the University’s 2022 May Commencement Ceremony, which was held May 14 in Merner Gymnasium on Pfeiffer’s Misenheimer, N.C. campus.
“You are standing in the lightning at a moment of creation,” said Dick, a Pfeiffer Trustee who is President and CEO of Uwharrie Capital Corporation. “A new age is about to be born, and you will be leading it.”
The Fourth Turning proposes that every 80 to 100 years, cycles of history emerge that can be divided into four different periods or “turnings,” each about 20 years in length. Prosperity, the first of these periods, is followed by a period of awakening. The awakening period is followed by a period of unraveling, which is followed by a period of crisis.
The current cycle, which began around the end of World War II (ca. 1946), is now in its crisis period, which will wind up toward the end of this decade. In Dick’s view, members of Pfeiffer’s Class of 2022 will play a key role in shaping what follows, namely what he calls “the next golden age and era in American history — the next first turning.”
“What will you do?” Dick asked. “The choices and decisions you make will make a difference…It is you who will determine our future; you are the next greatest generation.”
The University conferred undergraduate and graduate degrees upon 175 graduates during the Commencement ceremony and in absentia, including 19 Master of Physician Assistant Studies degrees to Pfeiffer’s first graduates in the new program.
A Bachelor of Arts degree in history for the late Scott Eisnaugle ’22 was also conferred posthumously.
Eisnaugle, whose life was celebrated this past March, had been pursuing his bachelor’s degree while employed at the University in the Office of Information Technology. He had worked at Pfeiffer since 2005. School officials said that he met the qualifications under Pfeiffer’s posthumous degree policy, having more than showcased his academic proficiency. After his tragic death, the Humanities faculty brought forth a recommendation to award him his degree. It was passed unanimously.
The graduates of 2022 were escorted into the ceremony by members of the Class of 1972, who graduated 50 years prior. Graduates exited the ceremony through a passageway of faculty who offered their congratulations.