Pfeiffer University Center for Health Sciences
2021 NC Main Street Award: Organization
Best Public-Private Partnership in Downtown
City of Albemarle
Little Diversified Architectural Consulting
In 2016, as Pfeiffer University was considering locations for a satellite campus in Albemarle and the surrounding counties, both the City of Albemarle and Stanly County administration and elected officials worked together to secure land for the new campus. The proposed site, located at 245 East Main Street in Albemarle, was the home of the Stanly County History Center. The City of Albemarle worked out a land swap deal with the County, agreeing to house the History Center in the City’s former City Hall Annex. This freed up the property for Pfeiffer to build. The former History Center, a noncontributing building on the National Register of Historic Places, was razed to make way for the new campus.
Pfeiffer University’s former President, Dr. Colleen Keith, shared with City of Albemarle the idea and potential benefits of locating a Center for Health Sciences campus in the downtown district. Dr. Keith had experienced success with a similar downtown campus concept implemented through Spartanburg Methodist College in South Carolina, and wanted to bring the same model to downtown Albemarle. Groundbreaking for construction took place in January 2019, with building completion and the first group of students taking classes in August 2020.
Located in the historic Five Points area of the downtown district, the Center for Health Sciences is home to the Master of Physician Assistant - or PA - Studies and Master of Occupational Therapy - or OT - programs, with a focus in rural health. The facility features the Center for Advanced Clinical Simulation Education, with four simulated ICU rooms, one Surgical Suite, and one Emergency Department Trauma Bay. The Center also features a fully functional clinic with six exam rooms where students, alongside faculty, will provide much needed community health services. The PA program has two dedicated, technologically-advanced classrooms and a multipurpose room for collaborative learning activities. The OT program has a full Activities for Daily Living room, with a functional kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom, used for experiential learning of various occupational tasks with simulated disabilities.
The cost to build the Pfeiffer University Center for Health Sciences, including construction and fixtures, was $18 million. The University created twenty-five full-time jobs and one part-time job for the Center, including faculty and staff positions. Since August 2020, the Center for Health Sciences has brought more than 200 graduate students to downtown Albemarle. The associated need for student housing has spurred two downtown residential projects, The Residences at the Albemarle Hotel and the Lowder Hardware residential rehabilitation project, which together are projected to provide 58 units. In addition to the residential projects, several businesses are opening or expanding as a result of the boost from the “Pfeiffer Effect.”