LRU News

Grace blossoms in the heart of LR – University names newest building “Grace Chapel”

Wed Apr 23 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — As Lenoir Rhyne’s latest construction project comes into its final months the University has announced the chapel’s name.

The building that sits in the center of campus and symbolizes the institution’s ongoing determination to remain committed to its Christian roots will henceforth be known as: Grace Chapel.

While the name Grace is prevalent among churches in the Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America, with which LR is affiliated, LR is the very first Lutheran university in America to name its on-campus house of worship Grace.

LR’s leadership determined at the outset that its chapel would not be a naming opportunity for any individual. Other universities have named their chapels after saints, donors or assorted theological concepts, but Lenoir-Rhyne stands alone in its unique embrace of Grace—a name chosen over more than 20 ecclesiastical choices suggested.

LR’s Chapel Name Task Group was issued a simple but difficult job:

Select a name that would:

1. Endure through the ages

2. Show inclusiveness of all of God’s people

3. Be unique

4. Represent all that we believe

Early on the group decided it was important to select a name that would actually be used instead of becoming a formality while people refer to the structure as “the chapel.”

“The concept of grace refers to God’s unmerited favor, but there’s more to it than that,” said LR’s Campus Pastor Dr. Andrew Weisner. “It is a concept that permeates the Old Testament, and its Greek root, charis, is found no fewer than 152 times in the New Testament. God’s grace also accounts for His goodness, providence and leadership. Moments of grace abound throughout the Bible including the New and Old Testaments. And the theological concept of grace forms the foundation of Augustinian, Reformation, and Lutheran theology.”

There is perhaps no greater concept in scripture than that of grace.

“For adherents of any religion, but especially Christians, grace is at the heart of the relationship between humans and God,” said the Chair of LR’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences Dr. David Ratke. “God reaches out to humans because God loves humans and indeed loves all of creation. Naming the chapel ‘Grace’ reminds believers everywhere that God welcomes everybody. The name ‘Grace Chapel’ proclaims to all, ‘You are welcome!’”

The name represents a claim held by Lenoir-Rhyne, Lutheranism and other churches: God’s abundant grace is given to all. All adornments of LR’s chapel, and all activities within – from the simplest to the most sublime – will be instances of “God’s grace.”

“I think we sometimes assume grace is reserved for special occasions, for when we’ve really messed up and want God to love us again as if, contra St. Paul, we have indeed separated ourselves from the love of God,” said LR’s theology professor and Director of Youth and Family Ministry Program Dr. Mindy Makant. “But grace isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card; grace isn’t God loving us again despite our sinfulness. Grace is at the center of all that is. Grace is God’s creative and sustaining work in and among us, whether we recognize it or not.”

The concept of grace is in direct opposition to that human impulse that convinces us that once we do enough good things that we can achieve the status of “good enough” and God will have no choice but to accept us on our own terms.

“Grace in the biblical tradition is God taking the initiative to reach out to humanity. It’s the beginning point for faith. Without it, there is no faith or redemption,” said LR religion professor Dr. Jonathan Schwiebert. “In the Hebrew Bible grace is known as ‘lovingkindness,’ God’s faithfulness to God’s people. In the New Testament, God’s grace takes the form of Christ coming to humanity and taking upon himself human weakness for our sake. Here God reaches out even to people who are alienated from God, and brings them home.”

It is LR’s hope that grace will abound in its chapel.

“Everything that goes on in there will be moments of God’s grace—the play on words will be delightfully rich,” Weisner said. “When we’re holding services in the chapel and I say ‘Here we are in the midst of God’s Grace,’ I will be referring to God’s lavish goodness and love as well as the physical building surrounding us.”

The chapel’s name represents the University’s mission, which extends beyond the walls of any one of LR’s buildings.

“LR attempts to be a means of grace. Goodness comes to the participants of LR’s community through their connection to Lenoir-Rhyne,” Weisner said. “From the members of the community who partake in the Visiting Writers Series and the Concert Series to the students who enroll in classes at LR, our community is enriched by God’s grace, which is evident on this campus.”

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LRU’s School of Nursing Celebrates 50 Years

Wed Apr 16 2014

HICKORY, N.C. – For the past 50 years Lenoir-Rhyne University’s School of Nursing has been preparing graduates for careers in the medical field. That milestone will be celebrated on Saturday, April 26, with a 50th Anniversary Tea beginning at 2 p.m. in the McCrorie Center on the campus of LRU. Any member of the public interested in attending is welcome.

At the Tea, University Pastor, Rev. Dr. Andrew Weisner will give a blessing for the School of Nursing. A place setting of the original School of Nursing crystal will be given to alumni in the earliest classes of attendance. Scrapbooks from the 1960’s-1990’s will be on display, along with the original kneeling bench from Grace Hospital that was used in capping ceremonies through the 1980s. Students will lead guided tours of both the historical displays and the actual nursing labs used today. T-shirts will be on sale commemorating 50 years of excellence in nursing.

Activities scheduled prior to the tea include:

  • Nursing Research Presentations at 10:30 a.m.
  • Sigma Theta Tau Induction at 1 p.m.

An alum from the first graduating class is expected to be in attendance along with one from the second and fifth classes. Kay Miller, a graduate of the class of 1972 will speak at the Sigma Theta Tau Induction. Many former faculty members will also be in attendance.

The nursing program at LRU began in 1960. Since that time over 940 students have graduated from the department of nursing, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in nursing. The program was accredited by the National League of Nursing in 1969 and has maintained continuous accreditation status since that time. In 2005 the faculty voted to change accrediting agencies and sought accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing. Since 2005, the program has been fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing. The Lenoir-Rhyne program was the fourth in the state of North Carolina to gain accreditation and the first fully accredited church-related program. The program also has full approval from the North Carolina State Board of Nursing.

For more information please call Dr. Kerry Thompson, chair of the school of nursing at 828-328-7281.


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Standard and Contemporary Works to be Heard During LRU’s Jazz Ensemble Spring Concert

Tue Apr 15 2014

HICKORY, N.C. – Comprised of students, community members, and alumnus, Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Jazz Ensemble will perform their Spring Concert, free and open to the public, on Tuesday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m. in PE Monroe Auditorium.

The group will present their spring concert of standard and contemporary works for big band, with individual selections as follows:

Hava Nice Day, by Sammy Nestico

Granada Smoothie, by Stan Kenton

Songbird, by Loonis McGlohon arranged by Rob McConnell

To You, by Thad Jones

Hot House, by Tadd Dameron arranged by Eric Richards

Things Ain’t What They Used To Be, by Mercer Ellington arranged by Duke Ellington

Tuning Up, by Toshiko Akiyoshi

Just Friends arranged, by Rob McConnell

The Lenoir-Rhyne Jazz Ensemble is both a lab dedicated to furthering student’s abilities to play jazz and other popular styles, and an active performing ensemble. The Jazz Ensemble is a reorganization of the “stage band” tradition, performing diverse styles of music including swing, bebop, blues, funk, Latin, and popular song. Membership in the Jazz Ensemble is open to all LR students by audition.

For more information on Lenoir-Rhyne University’s music programs, visit their website at

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LR student business competes for $50,000

Mon Apr 14 2014

HICKORY, N.C. —The Southeast’s biggest startup competition, the Charlotte Venture Challenge, is in its 13th year and for the first time an entrant from Lenoir-Rhyne University’s in the mix.

More than 100 hopeful start-ups hailing from Georgia to Washington D.C. to Tennessee hope to come out on top. The entrants will have all day on Thursday, May 1, to hear successful entrepreneurs speak about the lessons they learned along the way. They’ll also get time to network and pitch their ideas to investors searching for the next big thing.

The competition is for ventures that have less than $350,000 invested in their companies and who have less than $350,000 in sales to date.

The five categories in the CVC are:

1.     New Energy and High Technology

2.     IT and Informatics

3.     Health IT & Biotechnology

4.     Consumer Products and Services

5.     Student Businesses

Alex Freeman and his company Fanaticmasks are representing Lenoir-Rhyne University in the undergraduate student category. Freeman’s company makes stylized masks in the tradition of Mexican wrestlers, but they’re made with modern materials and emblazoned with logos for sports teams, bands and companies are having a look at some camo masks to wear while hunting instead of using face paints.

Freeman’s masks are for the lighthearted fan who doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously.

“It’s just a bra for your face,” is his tongue-in-cheek product description.

Freeman started working as a marketing specialist for Fanaticmasks while he was still in high school, but the company has been honed in the university’s small business incubator under the guidance of LR’s Entrepreneurship Professor Dr. Ralph Griffith.

“He came in with an exciting idea and we just ran with it,” Griffith said. “We made some tweaks to his business plan and we honed some of his processes, but what you see in Fanaticmasks is Alex’s vision.”

Freeman’s luchador masks will be going head-to-head with nine other student ventures from N.C. State to Emory and Davidson.

On May 1 each finalist will present their venture to a panel of judges and then to a room packed with potential investors including representatives from Fortune 500 companies and potential customers all of whom will vote on the winner—who’ll be going home with a $20,000 prize and the finalists who will divide a further $55,000 among themselves.

Finalists in the CVC’s undergraduate division:

1.     Clutch Gaming Solutions (UNC Charlotte)

2.     Fanaticmasks (Lenoir-Rhyne University)

3.     OnCahoots (Davidson College)

4.     Tee-Pa (Pfeiffer University)

5.     Track2Quit (NC State)

6.     Ugly Duckling Games (Central Piedmont Community College)

7.     BioWorks (UNC Charlotte)

8.     HANDYKAP (Emory University)

9.     Redwire Logic (UNC Charlotte)

10.  Vybe Sunglasses (NC State)


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Alex Lee Leadership Series Presents Colonel Leon “Lee” Ellis

Mon Apr 14 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — As part of the 2014 Alex Lee Leadership Series, Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Business Council and the Alex Lee Foundation will present Colonel Lee Ellis, President and founder of Leadership Freedom LLC and FreedomStar Media, on Wednesday, April 23 in the McCrorie Center, Fintel classroom at 6 p.m. Ellis’ presentation is titled, Leadership When Called.

Col. Ellis is an author, leadership consultant, and keynote speaker in the areas of leadership, teambuilding, and human performance. His past clients include Fortune 500 senior executives and C-Level leaders in telecommunications, healthcare, military, and other business sectors. His speaking and media appearances include interviews on networks such as CNN, C-SPAN, ABC World News, Fox News Channel, plus hundreds of speaking engagements in various industry sectors throughout the world.

Early in his career, Col. Ellis served as an Air Force fighter pilot flying fifty-three combat missions over North Vietnam. In 1967, he was shot down and held as a POW for more than five years in Hanoi and surrounding camps. For his wartime service, he was awarded two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Valor device, the Purple Heart, and POW Medal. Col. Ellis resumed his Air Force career, serving in leadership roles of increasing responsibility including command of a flying squadron and leadership development organizations before retiring as a colonel.

Col. Ellis earned a BA in History and a MS in Counseling and Human Development. He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the Air War College. He has authored or co-authored four books on leadership and career development. His latest book entitled Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton has received multiple awards since its release including a finalist in ForeWord Review’s 2013 Book of the Year Awards, a winner in the 2012 International Book Awards in the Business and Management Category, and its selection on the 2013 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Reading List.

Col. Ellis and his wife Mary reside in the Atlanta GA area and have four grown children and six grandchildren.

For more information on the Alex Lee Leadership Series, please contact Clem Geitner at

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Student Performer to be Featured at LRU Concert Band Spring Performance

Thu Apr 10 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — Celebrating its ninetieth-second season of bands at Lenoir-Rhyne, the 2013-14 Concert Band will perform on Friday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the P.E. Monroe Auditorium on campus. The concert is free and open to the public.

A rarely-performed concert suite, “Dwellers of the Western World,” by John Philip Sousa is set for this year’s program, which will also include, Elliot Del Borgo’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” John Zdechlik’s “Chorale and Shaker Dance,” and Franz von Suppé’s “Overture to Das Pensionat”.

The concert’s featured performer will be senior bassoonist, Hannah Stirewalt, from Nashville, Tennessee, performing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Concerto for Bassoon in B-flat Major,” arranged by LR composer Luke Benton. Hannah will graduate in May with a double major in Music and International Relations and a minor in Economics.

“I am extremely excited to be able to share all of my hard work and dedication with the community,” Stirewalt said. “Mozart belongs to the classical period of music, an era that I believe has lost popularity especially with recent generations.

“The concerto is actually extremely interesting to the active listener. I have studied every nuance in the piece and I hope to bring them out to the audience.”

Stirewalt is part of a fifty-six member ensemble, comprised of LR students, community musicians from the Unifour area, and three exceptional high school students from Catawba County Schools, Caldwell County Schools and Burke County Schools.

For more information on the LRU Concert Band, visit their website at


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Framers and Painters: Christian Theology among Academic Disciplines

Thu Apr 10 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Institute for Faith and Learning will welcome Dr. Telford Work to campus on Thursday, April 24 at 7 p.m. in Belk Centrum. This event is free and open to the public.

Christian institutions of learning face an unusual question: Among the academic disciplines, should theology mind its own business and leave other disciplines alone, interfere with their work as the guardian of orthodoxy, or monopolize learning because of its expansive domain of inquiry? This presentation argues instead that other academic disciplines are uniquely equipped to be ‘painters’ of their own domains, whereas Christian theology’s topic of the Kingdom of God gives it a unique role as a ‘framer’. Our disciplines complement, inform, and are accountable to one another in an indispensable partnership.

Dr. Work is a professor of theology at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. Author of three books and dozens of scholarly and popular articles, he received the Christianity Today Book Award for his 2007 book, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg: Living Through the Lord’s Prayer. A self-professed Pentecostal, Dr. Work’s interests range from evangelicals to icons, ecumenical dialogue, and especially Scripture. One of his current works in progress is on The Bible for Evangelical Renewal.

The Lenoir-Rhyne Institute for Faith and Learning endeavors to provide programming that will contribute to and enrich “A culture of the intellect” that is theologically based. The Institute’s programs are directed at Christians of all traditions.

For more information on the Institute for Faith and Learning Series, contact Dr. David Ratke at 828-328-7183 or Dr. Jonathan Schwiebert at 828-328-7184.

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Open House to discuss new 3+2 Physician Assistant Program at LRU

Mon Apr 7 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — An open house session detailing Lenoir-Rhyne University’s new 3+2 Physician Assistant Program will be held this Saturday, April 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Bears’ Lair Atriu

High-school students are encouraged to attend the open house, highlighting the unique program, which allows students to earn a Bachelor of Science in Medical Studies and a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies in just five years.

As a provisionally accepted undergraduate in the BSMS program, students are guaranteed a spot in the LRU PA program, provided completion of all progression requirements while earning a bachelor degree.

The mission of LRU’s Physician Assistant Studies program is to educate primary care physician assistants; students originating from a diversity of faith, geographic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds, educationally and clinically preparing them to become compassionate professionals providing quality healthcare from a holistic standpoint to populations in diverse geographic locations, and for the medically underserved in local, national, and international settings.

Lenoir-Rhyne University has applied for provisional accreditation—which is the status for a new physician assistant program that has not yet enrolled students, but at the time of its comprehensive accreditation review has demonstrated its preparedness to initiate a program in accordance with the accreditation standards from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant.

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LRU Youth Chorus to Present 18th Annual Spring Concert

Thu Apr 3 2014

Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Youth Chorus will present their 18th Annual Spring Concert on Sunday, April 13, at 4 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Hickory. This concert is open to the public, and there is a suggested minimum donation of five dollars.

This year’s concert will feature works by such German and Austrian composers as Bach, Brahms, and Mozart, sung in German or Latin. Several familiar spiritual and gospel songs are also a feature of this year’s spring program, including “I’m Going to Sing When the Spirit Says Sing”,  “This Train is Bound for Glory”, and “This Is The Day”.

The youth chorus, which began in 1997 has served hundreds of youth in our area over the past years, many of whom have gone on to careers in music. Today, the organization is comprised of three choirs and over 100 singers between the ages of seven and eighteen. Forty-five of the advanced chorus singers will be touring Germany and Austria in July.

The beginning choir, Minnesingers will also be singing this spring at Mt. Pisgah Lutheran Church in Bethlehem for their spring fling. The Meistersingers advanced chorus has sung in various venues this year, including Lutheran Chapel Church in Gastonia, Old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Newton, and Davidson Presbyterian Church in Davidson. In past years, the choir has sung with the Western Piedmont Symphony, the Lenoir-Rhyne A Cappella Choir, and with other children’s choirs throughout the southeast. The choir has also sung in Carnegie Hall, at the Sing A Mile High Festival in Denver, CO, and was the featured choir at Canterbury Cathedral and St. George’s Chapel in England for Evensong services.

The youth choir is open to both girls and boys by audition, and rehearses weekly at Lenoir-Rhyne University under the direction of Professor Florence Jowers, accompanied by Freda Herrell. Auditions are being scheduled now for the fall season. Please visit or call 828.328.7195 for more info.

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Alex Lee Leadership Series Presents Kathryn Greathouse

Thu Apr 3 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — As part of the 2014 Alex Lee Leadership Series, Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Business Council and the Alex Lee Foundation will present Ms. Kathryn Greathouse, co-executive director United Arts Council of Catawba County on Wednesday, April 9. Greathouse will present on the topic of leadership in the non-profit world on the campus of Lenoir-Rhyne University in the McCrorie Center, Fintel classroom at 6 p.m.

Greathouse has been the co-executive director of the United Arts Council of Catawba County since 2003, and was the previous executive director between 1989 and 1996. The Arts Council is a fundraising and sub granting council with an established United Arts Fund campaign.

Currently Greathouse also serves on the Board of Directors of the Unifour Foundation, Board of Directors of Outright Youth of Catawba Valley, and is a member of the Hickory Rotary Club.

The remaining speakers in the Alex Lee Leadership Series include: Col Lee Ellis, Author of Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton, speaking April 23 on Leadership When Called.

For more information on the Alex Lee Leadership Series, please contact Clem Geitner at


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