LRU News

Entrepreneurs transition from CVCC to LR – Local schools partner on student transfers

Tue Jun 17 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — When Dr. Ralph Griffith joined Lenoir-Rhyne University as the head of its newly-created entrepreneurship programs he had several goals in mind. Chief among them: Recruit top-quality students. With one of the nation’s top two-year entrepreneurship programs just across town, he didn’t have far to look.

In October Griffith approached Catawba Valley Community College with a proposal designed to benefit both schools. It’s an articulation agreement allowing every student who graduates from CVCC with an associate’s degree in entrepreneurialism to transfer every one of their courses to LR. There’s no transcript evaluation procedure, which can take weeks, where an official goes through the student’s transcript class-by-class deciding which courses transfer as electives and which ones transfer for course credit.

“If you transfer to a school without an articulation agreement in place, it can be very difficult to graduate in four years—for many people it can take five years to graduate,” Griffith said. “Our new agreement puts these students on an established track. Take these classes at CVCC; take these classes when you transfer to LR. It’s much easier and straightforward—there’s no guesswork involved.”

Lenoir-Rhyne’s articulation agreement applies to every student who has ever graduated from CVCC’s entrepreneurial program during its four-year history—not just recent grads or future grads.

“Their program is top-notch,” Griffith said. “They’ve got one of the country’s premier entrepreneurial programs at the community college level.”

The agreement became official at the signing ceremony held on June 16.

This is the second articulation agreement formed between LR and CVCC. The first one was the Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses program. Better known as RIBN, the program allows students to take three years of classes at CVCC or other participating community colleges while paying that community college’s tuition rate. During that three-year course of study students take one class per semester at LR and pay the standard LR tuition rate. After three years in the program students take the NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse.

Once students become nurses they’ll have the opportunity to start working in their field and earning an income while taking their fourth year of courses at Lenoir-Rhyne—at a reduced tuition rate.

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View movies under the stars this summer at LRU

Mon Jun 16 2014

HICKORY, N.C. – Co-sponsored by the city of Hickory, Lenoir-Rhyne University will kick off its Summer Movie Fest with a showing of “Despicable ME” this Friday, June 20.

All movie showings are free, open to the public, and will begin no earlier than 8:30 p.m. depending on time of sunset. Movies will be shown in a grassy area behind the Mauney-Shaeffer building on campus. Please bring your lawn chairs or a blanket and relax outdoors while enjoying a family film under the stars!

Showings continuing through the summer include:

June 27: “Wall-E”

July 18: “Frozen”

July 25: “Monsters U”

In the event of inclement weather, movies will not be shown. Check or the LR Facebook page for weather updates.

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Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams donate $36,000 of furniture to LRU

Tue Jun 10 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — Lenoir-Rhyne University’s P.E. Monroe Auditorium, built in 1957, has gotten a fresh new interior look to its lobby, thanks to a donation by one of the school’s most generous supporters.

This spring Mitchell Gold donated $36,000 worth of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture to the University, helping to refurnish P.E. Monroe Auditorium’s lobby. The 31 pieces include couches, tables and chairs, rugs and benches.

The idea for the gift was planted when Barbara Dugan, the wife of LR’s former Business Department Chair Michael Dugan, approached Gold to discuss buying furniture to refurbish the auditorium’s outdated décor.

“As soon as she said it I knew they needed it,” Gold said. “The auditorium’s furniture had nothing to do with the classic mid-century modern building—so I decided to donate the furniture Barbara had asked to buy.”

Stylish new furniture that makes use of chrome and glass for its modern classic look has replaced the oak and green leather mission-style couches. Deceptively comfortable high-backed chairs sit beside silver-enameled sections of tree trunks repurposed as pull-up tables.

Gold first formed ties with Lenoir-Rhyne in 2005 shortly after founding Faith in America.

In early 2009, following the publication of his book “Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Social, Personal and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America,” Gold was invited to return to LR to take part in the Visiting Writers Series. But this time the series’ founder Dr. Rand Brandes wanted more than the traditional format where the author speaks for 40 minutes then takes questions for 20 minutes.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you get one of your fancy friends to come interview you?’” Gold recalled. “So I called Soledad O’Brien, who was with CNN at the time, and invited her to Hickory. She agreed and we did the interview for a packed house in the P.E. Auditorium.”

In 2013 Gold’s invitation to CNN’s Chief Political Anchor Wolf Blitzer was compelling enough that the CNN mainstay came to Lenoir-Rhyne’s P.E. Monroe Auditorium to moderate a public dialogue titled “Politics, Religion and LGBT Equality” between Gold an African American minister and a Baptist preacher.

“I’m grateful to Lenoir-Rhyne for the opportunity and the venue to have these kinds of life-changing public discourses,” Gold said. “I intend to continue my partnership with the university and to continue to offer scholarships to our employee’s children—we have at least four or five attending LR right now and we hire LR grads.”

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Virtual open houses offered at LRU’s new Center for Graduate Studies of Columbia

Mon Jun 9 2014

HICKORY, N.C. – Lenoir-Rhyne University’s new Center for Graduate Studies of Columbia will present two virtual open houses during June, highlighting its Counseling program and online Human Services program. Those seeking a professional degree and an opportunity to accelerate their career should attend.

Each virtual open house session will introduce enrollment counselors, the Dean of the Graduate School, and highlight various opportunities available to you at the Center for Graduate Studies of Columbia. Information about financial aid opportunities, degree programs, and campus housing will also be provided. Sessions are expected to last approximately one hour.

June Virtual Open House Dates:

June 13: Noon to 1 p.m.

June 25: 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Virtual open houses for the Center for Graduate Studies of Columbia will continue throughout the summer and include the following dates:

July 11: Noon to 1 p.m.

July 23: 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Go to to register. Contact Kohl Friery or Bria Rearden at 803-461-3296 for more information.

About the Counseling Program

The CACREP accredited LRU Master of Arts degree in clinical mental health counseling is designed to prepare individuals for positions as professional counselors in agencies within the community. The counseling program places primary emphasis on the development of strong clinical skills. Upon receiving the Master of Arts degree in counseling, students will meet course work requirements for eligibility to take the examination to become a National Board Certified Counselor (NCC) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

About the Human Services Program:

The Master of Arts in Human Services program is structured to prepare students for professional practice through the creative application of knowledge, theory, and skills. The curriculum provides opportunities for a broad conceptual mastery of human services through an understanding of subject matter, bibliographic resources, theory, practice, and scholarly research. The intent of the curriculum is to develop within students the capacity to interpret, analyze, synthesize, and communicate knowledge, and to develop those skills needed to effectively practice and advance the human services profession. The MA in Human Services will prepare students to sit for the Human Services – Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP) credentialing examination.

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Local utility company supports LR’s work to combat childhood obesity

Thu Jun 5 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Solmaz Institute for Obesity has received a $2,500 grant from the Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation to purchase equipment needed to measure body fat of adolescent clients served by the program. Community Relations Manager Michael Durham, of Piedmont Natural Gas, presented the check to Kim Pennington, Director for the Solmaz Institute for Obesity, on June 3 at the Lenoir-Rhyne campus.

Other University officials present for the presentation included: Dr. Robert Allen, Executive Director of Development, and Dr. Barry Redmond, Coordinator of Corporate and Foundation Relations.

The Solmaz Institute for Obesity was established in 2009 with a $3,000,000 gift from Gungor and Diana Solmaz. The vision of the Institute is to equip families with the necessary skills and knowledge to make lasting changes in food selection and preparation, exercise habits, and nutritional decisions, leading to improved health for a lifetime.

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Lenoir-Rhyne University Center for Commercial and Social Entrepreneurship Receives $7,500 from the Unifour Foundation

Tue Jun 3 2014

HICKORY, N.C. – Lenoir Rhyne University has been notified by John Francis, Northwest Regional Associate for the North Carolina Community Foundation, of a grant award for $ 7,500 from the Unifour Foundation, to support program costs for the newly created Center for Commercial and Social Entrepreneurship.

The Unifour Foundation was created when the Hickory Merchants Association sold its local credit reporting company to a national company, enabling the establishment of the Unifour Foundation in 1999, which is one of 51 endowments that make up the Catawba Valley Community Foundation- all a part of the North Carolina Community Foundation. The Unifour Foundation promotes the general welfare among citizens in the four counties that comprise the Unifour area: Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba.

Excitement runs high as the Center for Commercial and Social Entrepreneurship begins two new degree programs this fall under the direction of Dr. Ralph Griffith, who began his work on campus in January. A key component of the Center is an incubation lab where rising entrepreneur students work directly with Dr. Griffith to develop ideas into start-up businesses that can make immediate impact on the region’s economy and work force. During this spring semester, Dr. Griffith provided direction and oversight to six students in the lab. Area residents who aspire to be business entrepreneurs may also visit the Center for advice and use of various resources to support their research and understanding.

Lenoir-Rhyne University has created the Center for Commercial and Social Entrepreneurship in response to the need to generate new businesses in the region.  A unique component of the program includes the training of social entrepreneurs who will assume leadership in various non-profits designed to meet all types of community needs. This program component is especially supportive of the University’s mission of creating responsible leadership for civic and community needs.

Initial costs for equipment, furniture, and supplies for the Center are estimated to be around $50,000. The Unifour Foundation award of $7,500 will be used specifically to purchase essential presentation equipment consisting of a monitor, screen, and projector.

Vice President for Advancement, Dr. Drew Van Horn extended praise and appreciation to the Unifour Foundation, stating “We are truly grateful to the Unifour Foundation for their willingness to partner with us in this new program.”

University Provost, Dr. Larry Hall, who envisioned much of the program, sees tremendous benefits in the future. “Growing new business majors, increasing student ethos for service leadership, increased partnerships with area business and non-profits, and on-site support for rising community entrepreneurs are just some of the benefits of this new program,” stated Dr. Hall.

A formal presentation of Unifour grants will be made on June 10, 2014 in the Keiser Community Room in the West Wing building of the SALT Block in Hickory (243 Third Avenue NE Hickory NC, 28601). Representatives receiving the grant for Lenoir-Rhyne University will include: Dr. Ralph Griffith, Assistant Professor for Entrepreneurship, Director for Center for Commercial and Social Entrepreneurship; Meg Spivey, Associate Director of Development, Institutional Advancement; Andy Anderson, Major Gifts Officer, and Dr. Barry Redmond, Coordinator for Corporate and Foundation Relations.

Lenoir-Rhyne University continues to be a “University Rising” and is very grateful to the Unifour Foundation for recognizing the tremendous community benefits that will result from the Center for Commercial and Social Entrepreneurship.

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Potentially life saving device developed at LR – Budding entrepreneur takes top prize at startup competition

Mon Jun 2 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — When Bridgette Cooke, a radiographer, came up with an idea for making it safer to get an x-ray, she came to Lenoir-Rhyne University’s small business incubator to find out if her idea might be marketable.

She met with LR’s professor of entrepreneurship, Dr. Ralph Griffith, and told him the idea for a company she calls BioRid. He liked what he heard and decided to see what the public thought of her concept.

They learned that her invention is more than plausible—it’s good enough to win top honors at this year’s Shark Tank business innovations competition held at Catawba Valley Community College. Cooke has decided to use her prize money to hire a patent attorney to protect her idea and find out if anyone else is working on a similar product.

Her innovation is a simple yet elegant answer to a need she’s seen in radiology departments across the region. She’s figured out a way to reduce the chances of transmitting germs from person to person via x-ray cassettes.

The solution might seem obvious—scrub them down with bleach, or something equally germicidal, between uses. But due to the nature of the technology that just won’t work.

Here’s why:

When patients go in for an x-ray the radiographer places a cassette under the affected area. The cassettes come in a variety of sizes one of the most common being about the size of a clipboard and about a half-inch thick. The center of the cassette is plastic and is held in place by a metal frame around the edge.

A few years ago the cassettes held x-ray film. Today they’re packed with electronics and cost thousands of dollars. The next generation of x-ray technology, digital radiography, allows radiographers to see the x-ray results almost immediately after shooting the image—but the cassettes are far more expensive. They’re not disposable.

“Almost everyone who comes into the hospital these days gets an x-ray,” Cooke said. “Whether we’re ruling out a broken bone or doing a chest film to clear them for surgery we’re x-raying people all day long.”

The same cassettes are used from patient to patient, whether the patient is injured, fighting an infectious disease or the x-rays are taken post mortem. And sterilizing the cassettes is a tricky business. Manufacturers warn against using harsh chemicals because they can damage the delicate inner-workings of the machines that the cassettes are fed into. More gentle cleaners like disinfectant wipes do one or more of the following: leave a chemical residue behind, don’t kill enough of the germs, require a long dry time for maximum effect or corrode the electronics inside the cassettes.

“My goal was to find a way to sterilize the equipment effectively with a method that would ensure 100 percent compliance because it was just a natural part of handling the cassettes,” Cooke said. “That’s why I designed a cabinet where the cassettes could be exposed to a germ-killing energy source during storage, which would make a big impact on the rates of hospital-acquired infection by targeting the chain of transmission.”

That’s BioRid—dead germs without harsh chemicals.

“We’ve had some really exciting early successes during our first year of operations at LR’s Center for Commercial and Social Entrepreneurship,” said Griffith, who also acts as the center’s director. “The Center is open to students and members of the community—anyone with an idea for a business who’s looking for a way to get it off the ground.”

Griffith and Cooke also sought input from Jeff Neuville, director of Catawba Valley Community College’s Small Business Center who gave Cooke additional direction on her business plan. From there she went to Tony Whitener at Manufacturing Solutions to discuss building a working prototype.

Cooke’s next steps are entering the Edison Project—an entrepreneurial competition sponsored by the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce. She is also partnering with Innovation Fund NC a statewide initiative led by CVCC—a pilot project focused on providing technology for start-ups in an effort to help them become thriving businesses.

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View movies under the stars this summer at LRU

Fri May 30 2014

HICKORY, N.C. – Bring the whole family and come enjoy a movie under the stars this summer at Lenoir-Rhyne University. In conjunction with the city of Hickory and the University City Commission, LRU will present a Summer Movie Fest, beginning June 20.

All movie showings are free, open to the public, and will begin no earlier than 8:30 p.m. depending on time of sunset. Movies will be shown in a grassy area behind the Mauney-Shaeffer building on campus. Please bring your lawn chairs or a blanket and relax outdoors while enjoying a family film.

Showings are as follows:

June 20: “Despicable ME”

June 27: “Wall-E”

July 18: “Frozen”

July 25 “Monsters U”

In the event of inclement weather, movies will not be shown. Check or the LR Facebook page for weather updates.

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LR Debate brings home first national championship – Local attorney revives long-dormant team

Thu May 29 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — One and one—one season of competition and one national championship—that’s Lenoir-Rhyne’s record following the Bears’ Debate Team’s first year of competition in nearly a quarter century.

LR Debate Coach Cade Hamilton has been there before. The first time was in 2011 when Kansas State University took the title with Hamilton serving as assistant coach. And then, because of one man with a vision, Hamilton was on his way to Hickory to build a championship program from scratch.

That man’s name is Charlie Dixon.

Having spent his career as a prominent Hickory attorney, Dixon, 87, clearly understands value of public discourse, which is why, on Nov. 29, 2010, he agreed to fund the rebirth of Lenoir-Rhyne’s debate team.

“Debate teaches you to clarify the issue and to identify the pros and cons of any argument—it’s certainly useful in the legal field, but it’s vital in other fields too,” he said. “The ability to think on your feet and not panic is such a valuable skill in your life—whether you’re addressing a city council, a church group or a business meeting—I felt that LR University really ought to have a debate team again.”

It took some time to find the right coach, but then they zeroed in on Hamilton and brought him to LR in the fall of 2012. For a year he taught classes while recruiting and training his team—the university’s first in 23 years.

In the fall of 2013 Hamilton took his team on the road and they started winning. The Bears won first place in their first tournament. And 14 of the debaters took home personal awards. At a tournament held at Middle Tennessee University LR took third place overall. The accolades continued to pile up all year and Hamilton ran out of space in the team’s first trophy case—then his team filled a second one.

In March, Hamilton took his top debate team to the 32nd Annual Novice National Championship Forensic Tournament hosted by Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. The team of Rebecca Payne and Jeffrey Fisher outshined the competition to become this year’s Parliamentary Debate National Champions.

Payne, Fisher and their teammates spent a season experiencing the kind of solidarity and team spirit that makes Dixon’s eyes light up 65 years after he last hit the road for his season with the Tar Heels’ debate team at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“I think it’s a good thing for young people and college students to have that opportunity, to take pride in representing their school and their team,” he said. “It’s that tension and exhilaration of being in debates and the joy of developing the team camaraderie that makes it all worthwhile.”


Dixon went to N.C. State with electrical engineering ambitions, but it didn’t take long for him to realize that his strengths were in the liberal arts. He joined the army for two years. He trained as an infantryman, but after basic training, the young recruit was assigned to Yale where he studied the Japanese language. From there it was on to occupied Japan where Dixon served in Army Intelligence for a year until 1947.

Once he was back in the states Dixon enrolled in UNC-Chapel Hill. While there he participated in the school’s public speaking organizations and intramural debate team. His team won the campus tournament and joined the Tar Heels’ collegiate debate team on the road. They competed in tournaments from Florida to Georgetown where they took on the day’s elite from the Ivy League.

Dixon graduated from UNC in 1949 and went on to Harvard Law School where he graduated in 1952. Then he came to Hickory to practice law. Early on Dixon was a trial lawyer, but for most of his legal career he specialized in estate planning, business and corporate law and health care law.

Dixon has long been convinced of Lenoir-Rhyne’s value for the Hickory area, which is why he has served on the school’s board of trustees and helped teach a negotiation course to LR’s master’s-level business students. And it’s why he was determined to make it possible for Lenoir-Rhyne students to live the kind of experience that make his own college days such a pleasure to reflect on.

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Information Session to discuss new Physician Assistant program at LRU

Fri May 23 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — An information session detailing Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Physician Assistant program will be held Saturday, June 7 from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. in McCrorie Center room 213. A campus tour will be offered after the session. If you plan to tour, please plan to stay until approximately 11:30 a.m.

High-school students are encouraged to attend the open house, highlighting the unique 3+2 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.

The mission of LRU’s Physician Assistant program is to educate primary care physician assistants; students originating from a diversity of faith, geographic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds, educationally and clinically prepared 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.

Currently LRU has applied for Provisional Accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARCPA). The Accreditation site visit is scheduled for September 2014. The ARCPA commission meets in March 2015 where provisional accreditation is granted to those developing programs who provide evidence of compliance with the ARCPA standards. The program is projected to begin in the summer of 2015.

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