Writer: Alejandro Sanchez
2 min read January 2022— Last year wasn’t a normal year for educators but universities in Charlotte have proven they have the adaptability and resilience not only to mitigate the most pressing challenges of the pandemic but to grow in the midst of uncertainty. In 2022, although safety remains a priority, leaders are focused on bringing students back to in-person learning while re-introducing extracurricular activities like athletics and student clubs. With new programs, renovated campuses and an eager faculty, local universities are ready for a long-overdue return to classes and, especially, to some semblance of normalcy.
Scott Bullard, President, Pfeiffer University
“I am a lot more confident now than I was a year ago. Small universities continue to be places where professors with Ph.D.s in important fields mentor young adults and help them find the most effective and fulfilling ways in which to exercise their gifts. It also remains a great investment. The average college graduate’s lifetime earnings still exceed the average non-graduate by over $1 million. The federal and state governments know this. We have benefited from two CARES Acts, essentially, and the state of North Carolina has designated relief money for each private college in next year’s budget. Our benefactors have seen our vision and I believe we’ve instilled confidence in our donors.
We are currently recruiting architecture firms to do a master facilities plan for our athletics complex. We have some proposals on the way and are evaluating our academic programs. We are refocusing to find what is working and what people want.”
William Downs, President, Gardner-Webb University
“We are excited about our mission and the opportunity to educate people, not just for a career but for life, which gives us a distinctive advantage. Even amid a pandemic, I feel optimistic. We are starting a capital campaign to build new facilities on our campus. We are enlarging our footprint to include STEM at Gardner-Webb and to attract STEM students from across the state and the broader region.
We love college athletics and we’re excited to have the basketball season now underway with fans in the stands. In 2019, our men’s basketball team went to the NCAA tournament for the first time and it gave us more nationwide brand exposure than anything we’ve previously done. We have 22 sports in the NCAA’s Division I, with over 600 student-athletes, so we are eagerly looking for even more athletic success to help us expand our brand.
We are aggressive in recruiting more students and have a transfer-friendly program, where we pay for the room and board of our transferring students until graduation, increasing our transfers by around 26%. We are thinking about how we can make education affordable and accessible. We are dismantling the idea that private universities are out of reach.”
Jennifer Troyer, Dean, Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte
“We have been in growth mode at UNC Charlotte for many years and we will continue to grow, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. As an emerging top-tier public research university in a growing region, we are better positioned than other universities. We are hiring new professors to support our new online MBA with concentrations in fintech, digital marketing and business analytics. We have a very positive outlook given that Charlotte is growing and creating more opportunities for our graduates.
The education sector will continue to evolve due to the decline in the size of the traditional age of the student population that is on the horizon. This will affect North Carolina later than in some other areas of the country but, still, institutions like ours are thinking about how we can better serve not only the 18-21-year-olds but also working professionals. For us, the path to serving them is through degree completion, graduate and certificate programs.”
Dan Lugo, President, Queens University of Charlotte
“I couldn’t be more bullish about the near-term and long-term future of Queens University of Charlotte. We are well-positioned to truly grow into being the signature private university for the city and this region. Charlotte desperately needs to invest in its higher education ecosystem. In comparison to most major cities of our size and economic power, we don’t have enough higher-education institutions. We have approximately seven higher-education institutions. Nashville and Memphis have a dozen, Pittsburgh and Portland have 20-something and Boston has nearly 40 and we were bigger and growing faster than all those places. Now is the moment for the institutions of Charlotte to step up to the plate to grow their offerings and grow the volume and quality of students that we can educate. All that makes me very bullish about our future.”
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