Dr. Jeffrey J. Poelvoorde passed away on Tuesday, December 26, 2023. The funeral service was held on December 28, 2023, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Dr. Poelvoorde served at Converse for 36 years, joining the History and Politics faculty in 1986. He coordinated internships for Politics majors and was an advisor for Converse’s Pre-Law students. Dr. Poelvoorde served as the Faculty Advisor for the College Republicans, STAND (devoted to ending the genocide in Darfur), and MASC (Manga, Anime, and Science Fiction at Converse).
In 2000, Dr. Poelvoorde received the Kathryne Amelia Brown Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Poelvoorde’s passion for both teaching and studying American history made a tremendous impression on many Converse students over the years.
Dr. Poelvoorde had a talent for keeping his students engaged with various special topics courses ranging from Shakespeare, science fiction, Don Quixote and J.R.R. Tolkien, to War and Peace, American musicals, and Harry Potter.
His popular course, “The Politics of Harry Potter,” was featured in a GoUpstate.com story. Dr. Poelvoorde told GoUpstate that in his many years of teaching, he never had a class read with such enthusiasm and engagement as this one did.
Dr. Poelvoorde was a contract speech writer for the Secretaries of Defense under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, a staff associate at the George Marshall Institute, executive board member of the South Carolina Humanities Council, President of the Westgate Training and Consultation Network, and served as President of the South Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Scholars.
Active in many Jewish communities as a scholar and community leader, Dr. Poelvoorde lectured about and taught courses on both Jewish and political topics in local and regional churches and synagogues. He led a weekly seminar on Alexis deTocqueville’s Democracy in America for adult members of the Jewish community in Charlotte, NC.
Dr. Poelvoorde was a featured lecturer at Princeton University’s James Madison Center seminars on the Constitution and Constitutional Development.
When Dr. Poelvoorde retired from Converse in 2022, University President Boone J. Hopkins reminisced about co-teaching a January term course about Alexander Hamilton with him. “Believe it or not, I was the setup guy, and he landed all the punch lines in the class,” Hopkins said. “To hear him speak of the first and second Continental Congress was like hearing a kid recount all the friends who showed up for his seventh birthday party. Dr. Poelvoorde’s passion for teaching and learning American history made a tremendous impression on so many.”
“Dr. Poelvoorde’s passion for teaching and learning American history made a tremendous impression on so many.”President Boone J. Hopkins
Alumna Brandy Blanton ’15 shared this about Dr. Poelvoorde:
“Dr. P, as I called him, had a humongous and humorous impact on my life, particularly regarding academic interests. While I was getting told in another department that trying to combine popular culture with my work was pointless and a road to nowhere, Dr. P actively encouraged it, even beyond his pop culture and politics classes.
When I found myself at St. Andrews trying to find a thesis topic, I reached out to Dr. P; he looked at my ideas and told me I had to pick one of my pop culture ones, despite being scared I’d never be taken seriously with that on my resume. I ultimately went with my Rogue One paper, which has opened so many doors and wonderful conversations for me, but I never would have written it without Dr. P’s encouragement.
Ultimately, it’s hard to believe that a man who has always been there since my first year at Converse is no longer with us. And I mean literally there. I cannot tell you how many times we saw him at midnight in Montgomery Student Center because he was grading papers, lost track of time, and was still on campus.”
On behalf of the entire Converse University community, we offer our heartfelt condolences on the passing of this extraordinary scholar, friend, and mentor.