Pfeiffer mourns the loss of former president Dr. Jack J. Early

It is with great sadness that Pfeiffer University announces the death on Jan. 22 of Dr. Jack J. Early, its president from 1969 to 1971. He was 96 and living in Louisville, Kentucky.

While at Pfeiffer, Early oversaw the construction of the Merner Health and Physical Education Center. He was also credited with improving communication between the student body and Pfeiffer’s administrators and faculty. During his Pfeiffer tenure, students began serving on every faculty committee, and the president of the Student Government Association became a non-voting member of the College’s Board of Trustees.

“Pfeiffer mourns the loss of this important figure in our institutional history. As I walk by his portrait every morning on the way to my office, I recall and am challenged by Early’s commitment to academic excellence, vibrant campus ministries, and his accomplishment of building a first-rate facility for our winter sports in the late 1960s. His service to Pfeiffer and his lifelong dedication to United Methodist-related higher education will always be remembered, and will always inspire us,” said Pfeiffer President Scott Bullard.

Early served as Pfeiffer’s fourth president, assuming office in July 1969 at what was then Pfeiffer College. He came to Pfeiffer from Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, where he served as president for 11 years. He left Pfeiffer to become the executive director for education at the American Bankers Association in Washington, D.C. He also served as president of Limestone University in Gaffney, South Carolina.

Early held several advanced degrees, including an Ed.D. degree from the University of Kentucky and a B.D. degree in religious education from Lexington Theological Seminary. A lifelong Methodist, he became an ordained minister in 1954, but he began preaching as a high school student.

Early was preceded in death by Nancye Whaley Early, his wife of 64 years. He is survived by several daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandson.

In lieu of flowers, Early’s family members are asking that donations be made to “Early” scholarships established at the following schools:

  • Union College, 310 College St., Box D004, Barboursville, KY 40906 or;
  • Kentucky Wesleyan College, 3000 Fredericka St., Owensboro, KY 42301 or; or
  • Dakota Wesleyan University,1200 West University Ave., Mitchell, SD 57301 or

Ken Keuffel 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​