Freddie Olympics kicks off Falcon Friday schedule at Pfeiffer

By Ken Keuffel for Pfeiffer University

Pfeiffer University has implemented a four-day instructional week in which undergraduate students now attend classes on Mondays through Thursdays only. Instead of Friday classes, the university now offers “Falcon Fridays,” an initiative that provides opportunities for beyond-the-classroom enrichment each week.

Although some of the offerings will fulfill Pfeiffer Life requirements, students are invited, not required, to attend and/or participate in events that will include workshops, socials and panel discussions, said Jordan Bishop, a 2016 graduate who is the coordinator of Falcon Fridays.

Falcon Fridays will create new opportunities for dialogue and thoughtful interaction with the campus community. For instance, athletics personnel who may not typically have contact with students outside of the student-athletes they serve, now have the option to participate in panel discussions that are open to the campus community, discussing topics such as leadership and team building.

Similarly, during lunch and learn sessions called “Ask a Professor,” faculty can lead non-academic conversations that focus on special interest topics or skill development and ultimately strengthen Pfeiffer’s culture of mentorship.
Bishop hopes to host satellite art exhibits from galleries in nearby cities so that students can experience it on Pfeiffer’s Misenheimer campus. She also wants to organize community events on Falcon Fridays that are open to residents from neighboring communities.

“From an overview perspective, this shift speaks to Pfeiffer University’s efforts to cultivate personal development, enhance social skills, utilize a very strong community of mentors, and provide enjoyable activities that are particularly valuable in a rural setting like ours,” she said. “This cross-campus collaboration represents a lively and dynamic effort to promote a more connected and fulfilling campus experience for all involved.”

Dr. Daniel Mynatt, Pfeiffer’s provost and vice president of academic affairs, said that the Falcon Fridays initiative aims to provide not only enrichment but also something so “distinctive” that it sets Pfeiffer apart from the peer schools with which it competes for students. He said the success of the new instructional week and Falcon Fridays will be measured in several ways, a principal one being its effect on enrollment.

“If enrollment increases every year over the next several years, we’ll definitely look back and say that the four-day instructional week and Falcon Fridays were factors,” he said.

Falcon Fridays launched on the afternoon of Aug. 18 with the Freddie Olympics. Named for Freddie Falcon, Pfeiffer’s mascot, the Olympics featured five teams “competing” in games that sought to jumpstart “engagement, excitement and fun across the entire campus community,” Bishop said.

Then, on the evening of Aug. 18, the first Falcon Friday continued in Pfeiffer Chapel with Bishop highlighting the benefits and impact of the four-day instructional week and Falcon Fridays on the students’ college experiences.

She urged those in attendance to embrace change, start anew, and be open to opportunities that come their way. She called on them to be proactive lifelong learners and to grow and develop as individuals by following their curiosity and interests.

After Bishop’s presentation, author Kevin B. Thomas read “Grandma’s Hands,” an excerpt from his book “Poet Thomas,” which proposes that there is a Poet Thomas in all of us. Poet Thomas’ words became his battle sword for wars constantly fought throughout his life, and he found the determination to say, “I can” despite growing up in poverty.

Thomas completed his presentation with a Town Hall-style Q&A and a book signing.

Bishop brings a diverse combination of educational and work experiences to the coordinator position, and her appointment reflects Pfeiffer’s intention to bring structure and quality control to Falcon Fridays. She earned an A.A. degree in psychology from Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado, and a B.A. degree in the same subject from Pfeiffer University, where she also played basketball. She holds an M.S. degree in leadership from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas.

Before coming to Pfeiffer, she held two coordinator positions at the National Junior College Athletic Association in Charlotte for equity, diversity and inclusion and for special events. She has coached basketball at several colleges, including Otero College in La Junta, Colorado, where she also served as the assistant director of residence life.

Bishop called student engagement a key part of college students’ identity formation.

“It’s not so much a need to fit into a system,” she said. “Rather, it’s about knowing whether their identity is valued here. Do they have a connection with somebody on campus as they are pursuing their education at Pfeiffer? Falcon Fridays gives them different grounds to connect as they explore their identity, journey and experience while in Misenheimer.”