Pfeiffer Forward / Part 3—Pfeiffer is Leading: Academics for 21st-Century Success

Environment Science
Francis Center
Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic
Online Programs
Student Life
Why Pfeiffer


Students want to know they will be prepared to succeed in high-demand fields. President Keith’s vision for Pfeiffer graduates is that they not only become leaders in their chosen fields, but also leave Pfeiffer possessing the skills, passion, and habits to embrace lifelong learning for living and working in a rapidly changing world. This is a hallmark of the Pfeiffer Experience.

President Keith knows academic innovation is helping push Pfeiffer to the forefront as we uphold academic integrity and competitiveness. At the center of every college decision—and the focus of the student experience—is academics. Pfeiffer’s general curriculum promotes the 21st-century skills considered critical for life and career success: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and information literacy. Often this means teaching and learning across disciplines to engage a variety of perspectives, approaches, and solutions to complex global issues. Pfeiffer students benefit from a rich tradition of dedicated professionals in the classroom guiding their experience, supported by advanced technology that reaches across the globe. Pfeiffer graduates are eminently flexible learners, better prepared and ready for the world!

SInce Dr. Keith’s arrival, Pfeiffer has seen the results of advanced curriculum and successful student outcomes through state and national rankings. These include designation for three years as a College of Distinction; College Choice’s 25 Best Colleges in North Carolina; Value College’s Top Ten Best Online College in North Carolina; Best Value School’s Best Value Small College for Environmental Science; Top Masters In Health Care’s Best MHA in the U.S.; Home School Magazine’s Seal of Approval; The National Center for Education Statistics’ most affordable master’s degree program in special education program in U.S., and for the eighth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges in the South.

Division of Business

This spring, the Division of Business, specifically the undergraduate majors and MBA program, earned ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs) accreditation.This stamp of approval assures prospective students that Pfeiffer’s programs will drive them toward their goals and reaffirms for employers of the value of investing in Pfeiffer interns and graduates.

Acknowledging tremendous potential for growth in these programs, President Keith named Dr. Kelli Fellows, associate professor of business administration, as the director of graduate business programs. A respected and sought out organizational and business communications consultant, speaker and author, Dr. Fellows will lead the development of new opportunities for graduate students in Pfeiffer’s business programs as Pfeiffer’s profile rises in highly competitive markets in Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and online.

Program options grow with the addition of Dr. Chris Atwater as director of Pfeiffer’s sport management programs. In addition to assuming leadership of the undergraduate program, Dr. Atwater will develop a graduate sport management program designed to meet the unique needs of the Charlotte market—providing an option for continued study for Pfeiffer students completing bachelor’s degrees in sport management, and drawing students from similar programs across the country. As a leader in the sport management field and with previous experience as an associate professor at George Mason University Dr. Atwater’s experience will prove vital to growing Pfeiffer’s sport management program.

In a region whose business community is linked heavily to international interests, President Keith supports and encourages our graduate business programs to identify ways to “meet students where they are”—whether they are enrolled in seated or online classes and no matter the size or purpose of their employer—to enhance access to global concerns. Plans to increase opportunity for international study—a component unique to Pfeiffer’s MBA and MHA programs—are underway to supplement existing options.

Division of Applied Health Sciences

The Physician Assistant Studies (PA) program [pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)] is planned for 2020, closely behind the Occupational Therapy (OT) program [seeking accreditation from the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (ACOTE)], whose start date is 2019. With local business and government leaders, President Keith is leading the forthcoming construction of a new health science facility in downtown Albemarle for these programs, which will feature state-of-the-art technology and space that both programs share—and that they have designed together.

Setting these programs apart from others—and sure to attract the best and brightest students—is an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum development that is projected to determine a new standard for PA and OT education (and play a major role in transforming the delivery of these important services). Through collaboration with Pfeiffer’s Nursing, MHA and Marriage and Family Therapy programs, PA and OT students will learn to address a patient’s medical, nursing, therapeutic and mental health needs holistically,  while administrative concerns are also addressed, resulting in better outcomes, reduced duplication of effort, and lower costs.

Where Pfeiffer’s Nursing program shines brightest—as a direct result of small class size, one-on-one mentoring, and teaching methods—is with an 85 percent completion rate (compared with 40-50 percent for other programs in the region). Furthermore, all eligible nursing students over the past two years passed the North Carolina Licensing Examination (NCLEX) on their first attempt, with most landing jobs before or within weeks of graduating. Enrollment is growing for the online RN-to-BSN program as working RNs work toward meeting the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine to hold bachelor’s degrees by 2020.

This spring, accreditation was renewed for the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MMFT) program, Raleigh-Durham campus, by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). The program, which has sites in Charlotte as well as Raleigh-Durham, has received national recognition as one of the 50-most-affordable MMFT programs in the U.S. Drawing students from across the country, it serves in particular North Carolina’s Piedmont region and is one of the only few accredited MMFT programs offered in North Carolina.

The Master of Health Administration (MHA) program, which has the largest alumni group in the Carolinas, was rated in 2016 as the #1 online MHA program in the country. To further enhance student offerings, the program added an Upsilon Phi Delta (UPD) Honor Society chapter. The inaugural class, inducted on July 22, includes nearly 100 students and faculty members, with alumni eligible to apply next year.

Division of Arts & Sciences

Because studying a topic from a variety of perspectives often results in improved critical thinking and communication skills, President Keith encourages collaboration across disciplines to provide students with a variety of complementary—and competing—points of view. With high-performing students recently accepted to prestigious summer internship programs, for example, at the North Carolina Research Campus and Cannon Summer Scholars Program/Carolinas Healthcare System, and high-profile doctoral programs at Drexel University and University of Pittsburgh, it’s clear that the potential exists for more Pfeiffer students to capture exciting career-affirming opportunities.

The Criminal Justice program, which over the past two years has undergone a transformation that is capturing attention among prospective students and the law enforcement community, has seen a tremendous leap in students declaring it as a major. With the curriculum addition of Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET), offered in partnership with Stanly Community College, Pfeiffer is the only university in North Carolina to offer students the ability to enroll in BLET before they graduate. With BLET under their belts, students are eligible to work immediately upon graduation and with the advantages of entering the law enforcement field with a bachelor’s degree. New concentrations, available for 2017-18, in National Security and Disaster Preparedness/Emergency Management will offer students greater options for careers and additional study.

Working with the Biology department, Criminal Justice students are studying a pig cadaver, buried on campus, to observe and record details related to decomposition over a period of several months. Learning these nuances of forensics will prepare them for specialized law enforcement careers. At the same time, a biology student with plans to become a medical examiner (who is currently serving as president of the criminal justice club) is studying different aspects of the cadaver’s anatomy for her research purposes.

Committed to providing innovative and transformative classroom experiences, President Keith aims to attract and retain faculty members with the capacity to engage with students and connect them to opportunities that might not otherwise learn about. New faculty members for fall 2017 are expert in cancer research, water ecology and conservation, exercise science, and more.

Division of Education

Pfeiffer’s highly successful education programs put highly-skilled teachers in classrooms throughout the region and state. And they are likely to remain in the field: since 2012, 93 percent of graduates who passed the North Carolina Department of Education requirements for licensure exam are still in the field. Pfeiffer’s success in the education field stems from the many hands-on experiences offered in the program through student teaching opportunities, special internship opportunities and youth camps the division organizes. The Division of Education’s success is evident as its programs are accredited through 2021 by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE),

Cross-Division News

Pfeiffer’s Honors Program welcomed 24 members to the incoming class for fall 2017—the highest initial enrollment in the program’s history. These exceptional students, who make up a vibrant Living-Learning Community through the Honors Residential College, focus on individual and group research and plan next year to present at the Southern Regional Honors Association Conference and—for the first time—National Honors Association Conference. Because of their research and presenting experience, in addition to typically high GPAs, Honors Program students often are accepted to outstanding internship and graduate school opportunities. One 2017 graduate will continue aspects of her Honors Program research at Florida State University, where she is newly enrolled.

With a high-quality, very competitive and ever-evolving academic experience available at Pfeiffer University, President Keith is inspiring faculty to place no limits on their creativity, motivating graduate and undergraduate students to stretch “Beyond Boundaries,” and making sure that all have opportunities to learn and grow. Clearly, a Pfeiffer academic experience is the first step toward lifelong learning and satisfaction!

Next: Aug. 1— Pfeiffer is Innovative: Driving a digital transformation