The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

November 15, 2013

Pfeiffer University continues campaign to rejuvenate alumni, branding

By LuAnne Williams for the SNAP

Friday, November 15, 2013 — The message of Pfeiffer University’s latest awareness campaign is simple — “We Are Pfeiffer.” The hope is that those three words will inspire three responses as people become “informed, involved and invested.”

“Sometimes people think of us as that brick and mortar institution on the northern end of the county, and of course we are. But we are so much more than that,” said Carol May, director of institutional advancement.

“Pfeiffer is everywhere you look, represented by all of our alumni and the positions they hold in the community and their church activities. We are everywhere.”

A series of alumni focus groups conducted recently as part of the university’s strategic planning process revealed the need to remind Stanly County residents just how prevalent Pfeiffer’s influence is.

More than 1,000 county households include at least one person who attended the Methodist-affiliated school, which offers 55 majors and minors and fields 18 NCAA Division II sports teams. About 15 percent of the 700-plus students currently enrolled at the Misenheimer campus are from Stanly County.

May said few people realize the widespread contributions made by Pfeiffer alumni to local business, education and other fields. For example, more than a quarter of local teachers, 15 percent of principals and assistant principals and 29 percent of school administrators are former Falcons. In total, Stanly County Schools employs 182 Pfeiffer graduates.

To highlight this fact, Pfeiffer student teachers are delivering candy-filled “We Are Pfeiffer” mugs to each of them. Also, the names of alumni in the school system were recently printed in a full-page ad in The Stanly News & Press, the second one purchased as part of the campaign. The first featured a list of prevalent alumni that are business leaders and heavily involved in the community.

“We are also hoping to do receptions for key businesses that have Pfeiffer alumni as employees,” May said.

“And we plan another series of ads featuring businesses owned by grads — an alumni spotlight series.”

The ultimate goal in promoting the success of area alumni is to keep Pfeiffer in the forefront so that people will be informed about the university, which has Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham graduate degree locations as well as the Misenheimer campus.

After they’re informed, May said the next step is to get them involved, which could include anything from visiting campus for an event or following Falcon sports to serving on a committee, working with admissions at college fairs, sending their son or daughter to Pfeiffer as a student or enrolling themselves.

“Then comes investment. If they feel good about Pfeiffer, investment will come naturally when they are looking at their giving options,” May said.

Already she has gotten a lot of positive response from the We Are Pfeiffer campaign.

“People have been so excited to see their names and the names of family members on posters we’ve been distributing,” May said, adding that many report an “aha moment,” as they see the names of associates and community leaders that they know personally, but didn’t realize went to Pfeiffer.

Dawn Allen, chief executive officer of GHA Autism Supports and a 1980 graduate, became chairman of the “We Are Pfeiffer” campaign after a similar experience of seeing an alumni list.

“There were bank presidents, attorneys, dentists, a number of school teachers that I was familiar with and it was just amazing to me, the number of people that were graduates of Pfeiffer,” she said.

Allen called the university a “gem” right in Stanly County’s back yard.

She said not enough people take advantage of Pfeiffer’s cultural events such as concerts and facility offerings like food service and meeting space. She said when the committee toured the campus, she was amazed by the renovations at the Harris Science Building and the Stokes Student Center that features a community room on its top floor available for meetings or social events.

Allen said all too often graduating high school seniors don’t believe they can get a good education without going far away to college.

“I tell them that is not the case. If you are looking for an affordable education, you could be a day student or combine studying at Stanly Community College for two years and then transfer to Pfeiffer for the last two years. There are so many great opportunities,” she said.   

May said the “We Are Pfeiffer” campaign is designed to foster connectivity and engagement with and through Pfeiffer’s constituents, while reminding everyone what a tremendous resource the University is to Stanly County.

Pfeiffer has just over 2,000 students, with 981 at its Misenheimer campus and the rest pursuing graduate degrees in Charlotte or Raleigh-Durham.

Luanne Williams is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.