School of Counseling names new chair

Kerrie Fuenfhausen, Ph.D., is learning from the past and looking to the future as the new chair of the School of Counseling and Human Services. Appointed June 1, Fuenfhausen‘s role as chair includes overseeing the counseling programs on LR campuses in Hickory and Asheville, North Carolina and Columbia, South Carolina.  

Kerrie Fuenfhausen

Fuenfhausen joined the Lenoir-Rhyne faculty at the Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville when the center was established in 2012, serving both as a professor and counseling program coordinator, a position she maintained until her promotion in June.

“Dr. Fuenfhausen has the capability to cultivate meaningful interactions with an array of populations, organizations and educational institutions, which is a key component of modern educational leadership,” shared Michael Dempsey, Ed.D., dean and director of the Asheville center observed. “Her ability to build relationships will continue to drive the counseling program’s expanding reputation and footprint.”

After earning her bachelor’s degree in communications at Wake Forest in 1999, Fuenfhausen worked as an educational consultant and as a human resources representative. She found the most satisfying parts of her work involved supporting people, which seemed natural to her.

“I come from a family of helpers — counselors, social workers, teachers, pastors,” she shared.

With the goal to enter private practice as a licensed counselor, Fuenfhausen enrolled in graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. But, after discovering an affinity for teaching and supervision – she tweaked her path and earned her master’s in counseling in 2005 and continued to earn a doctorate in counseling education in 2009. She served on the counseling department faculty at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois before landing at Lenoir-Rhyne.

Looking to the future, Fuenfhausen hopes to continue to see the counseling program continue to grow on all three campuses. One step in that direction includes expanding professional development opportunities.

“We already offer a number of professional development opportunities in the Asheville and the western community, and I would love to see those opportunities grow in Hickory and Columbia so we’re not only supporting our graduate students but also the continuing education of counseling professionals in all three of these communities,” Fuenfhausen explained.

The school is also responding to the counseling needs of the communities its students and graduates serve by approving a trauma concentration in the course of study, which will lead to a certificate program.

“The events of the pandemic years have shown training trauma-informed mental health professionals is incredibly important, so this concentration will be a real benefit to our students.”

The drive to serve students, practitioners and communities has driven much of Fuenfhausen’s professional life, and now it will guide her leadership of the School of Counseling

“I am excited about the growth of our program, and I am even more excited to support faculty and students across all three campuses as we move forward. We have several faculty in new leadership positions as well as new faculty members and clinical coordinators. We’re returning to as much in-person instruction as possible. There’s a lot of fresh energy about.”

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