During the 2020-21 academic year, Pfeiffer University forged ahead valiantly, surmounting many challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The University also made news in a variety of areas that will have a lasting impact for years to come, and mourned the passing of several beloved faculty and staff. Pfeiffer’s Communications team looks back on the 10 most important stories from the last twelve months.
1. Center for Health Sciences Opens in Albemarle, N.C.
In September 2020, Pfeiffer’s Center for Health Sciences (CHS) opened in downtown Albemarle, N.C. The facility provides state-of-the-art equipment, classrooms and other amenities for students in two new programs: the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MS-PAS) and the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT). The CHS allows students of the MSOT program to master techniques in a fully furnished simulated apartment. In addition to showing clients how to use adaptive equipment, students learn to make it with a 3D printer. PA students work in high-tech practice exam rooms, and they use high fidelity, computerized human simulators to master physical examination and treatment techniques.
2. Renovations to Harris Science Hall Completed
The renovations made an immediate impact: The Department of Natural Sciences, aiming to accommodate enrollment growth in several programs, began August 2020 with four new classrooms, three revamped classrooms, a new conference room and a new suite of faculty offices. The Department of Nursing, also in Harris Hall, gained enough additional floor space for 10 more students each year, another simulation room, and such amenities as a lounge, a locker room and a study area.
3. Athletics Lays Groundwork for a Brighter Financial Future
The Pfeiffer University Athletics Advisory Council grew to a full 10-member group in 2020-21, focused on helping the university shape its vision for athletics, including the development of the first endowment fund benefitting athletics at Pfeiffer. Zac Chilton ’15, the director of the Falcon Club since 2020, is also giving the University’s student-athletes the resources they need to excel, both on and off the field, through increased Falcon Club membership at all levels.
4. Division of Education an Enviable Success Story
As reported in the November/December edition of The Falcon Connection, the division’s 2019-2020 licensure class achieved a 100 percent pass rate across all N.C. Educator Licensure Exams, and all student teachers who completed clinical practice in Fall 2020 were offered employment at the conclusion of their student-teaching experience. As of December, the division’s graduates were staying in the teaching field at a rate of approximately 75% when they reached the pivotal five-year mark of employment. That is well above the average turnover rate: Between 40 and 50% of teachers leave the field in North Carolina and nationally in the first five years.
5. Pfeiffer’s Nursing Program Remains Highly Successful
For the second time in two academic years, all graduates of Pfeiffer University’s nursing program passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), the nationwide examination for the licensing of registered nurses, on their first try. And each had job offers by graduation. The news, announced this past October by the North Carolina Board of Nursing, put Pfeiffer’s program in elite company: Only two other BSN programs in North Carolina achieved the same result. All told, 30 programs in the state confer Bachelor of Science in nursing degrees.
6. Men’s Basketball Wins Conference Championship
On March 7, the Pfeiffer University men’s basketball team capped off an 11-2 season in memorable fashion, defeating Averett University 72-70 to capture the USA South East Division Championship. The win, achieved despite Averett cutting into several Pfeiffer leads, came down to the Falcons’ Dorian Miles and Tyjarek Simmons hitting clutch free throws at the end of the game.
7. Men’s Lacrosse Wins Multiple Titles, Gets DIII Tourney Berth
The men’s lacrosse team won the USA South East Division title in a victory over Greensboro College. After that, the team won the USA South title by defeating Piedmont College -- and gaining an automatic bid to the DIII tournament. The team, which posted a 12-1 record before the tournament, benefited from the stellar play of current graduate student Jared Nelson ’19, an attackman who broke two NCAA career all-division records: one for assists during the aforementioned game against Greensboro and the other for points in Pfeiffer’s first-round loss to the University of Lynchburg (Va.) at the DIII tournament.
8. Social Justice Minor Added to Academic Offerings
In Fall 2020, Pfeiffer University launched an “intentionally transdisciplinary” minor called Social Justice Studies, plugging it as imperative for careers in which alumni work with people. The minor’s requirements include four electives, each conceived and taught by professors of various disciplines, which include history, English, Religion and Practical Theology, and Counseling and Human Services.
9. In Memoriam
Four former professors and one staff member passed away during the 2020-21 academic year. The professors were Margaret Susan Carmichael, a professor of Christian education at Pfeiffer from 1961 to 1993; James Milligan Haymaker, a professor of art at Pfeiffer from 1965 to 2005; Dr. Melicent Huneycutt, who taught English at Pfeiffer from 1969 to 1981; and Dr. Jean Lee Raines, who taught music at Pfeiffer from 1980 to 2015. Lester F. “Snake” Roberts served as Pfeiffer’s head of security for 27 years until 1994.
10. Jack Ingram Retires
The 2020-21 academic year was also the last year of Jack Ingram’s distinguished and multifaceted career at Pfeiffer University. Ingram, Class of 1974, served his alma mater for 44 years as a coach, as Deputy Athletic Director, and as Department Chair for the Sports Management program. He successfully coached women’s basketball, and he started the softball program, which also did quite well under his guidance. Ingram Field, the home of Pfeiffer’s softball team, is named for him.
Ken Keuffel, who authored this article, has served as Pfeiffer’s Assistant Director of Communications since December 2019. He welcomes story ideas from Pfeiffer’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. The form for submitting story ideas is at www.pfeiffer.edu/newsform.