May 21, 1997, marked a milestone in the history of Pace University when Alfreda J. Geiger passed away gently in her sleep. Her contributions to the University were legendary and here is part of her story.
Alfreda was born on December 15, 1899 the first of twelve children to German immigrant parents. As a child she thought she would be a dancer and eventually pursue a career in show business. She later de cided to become a teacher.
Alfreda joined the Pace faculty in 1932, after an initial interview with Homer Pace, one of Pace's founders. In an interview conducted by Nicki Tanner for the Pace University Oral History Project in 1983 , Alfreda reflected on her Pace beginnings: "He (Homer Pace, President of Pace Institute) was impressed with my background in this field (Secretarial Science), and offered me a part-time position. However, I informed him that I was only interested in f ull-time work. He promised to talk it over with Mr. Schaeberle (Treasurer of Pace Institute) and call me back, which he did a few days later. I then met with both Mr. Schaeberle and Mr. Pace and they decided to hire me on a full-time basis at thirty do llars a week. Salaries during the Depression were very low, so I accepted the position and started my career with Pace in August 1932."
Alfreda was hired to teach in the Secretarial Science Department. This department had just been started because, according to Alfreda, "…Pace Institute, at that time, taught only accounting and law and M r. Pace felt it would be financially advantageous to start a secretarial department". Her first teaching schedule in the Fall of 1932 included Pitman shorthand, typewriting, accounting, secretarial procedures, and mathematics. In order to sharpen her ski lls, Alfreda worked summers in industry, including temporary work for Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, and the President of Muirson Label Company.
Under her direction, the Secretarial Science Department evolved from training professional secretaries and court reporters to preparing teachers. The department then became part of the School of Educa tion as the Business Education and Secretarial Science Department.. She saw Pace Institute become Pace College and later become Pace University. According to an interview in the Pace Press in November 1979, Alfreda indicated "Teaching is my way of lif e…teachers influence the greatest number of people for the greatest good of the individual."
In a 1967 address to the Faculty Council, Alfreda talked about the changing role of the Department and said "Pace College has always been ready to assist industry and business in cooperative education ve ntures." She went on to describe community outreach or what would today be called Corporate Training. Alfreda felt the department had an obligation to develop courses and programs to meet the needs of our students and the business community we serve.
In 1971 Alfreda Geiger received an honorary degree, Doctor of Commercial Science, from Pace. In 1974 she was awarded the Outstanding Business Educator of the Year by the Business Education Association o f Metropolitan New York. She believed teaching to be a rewarding profession and enjoyed watching her students progress.
In 1984 the then Business Education Department joined the newly formed School of Computer Science and Information Systems and became the Office Information Systems Department. The computer was fully int egrated into the curriculum. Alfreda felt that she should familiarize herself with all of the new courses and made it her business to sit in on all the classes, offering guidance to all of the faculty on methods of instructions. She enjoyed learning and especially enjoyed mentoring teachers.
In closing her interview with Nicki Tanner in 1983, Alfreda said, "I'm very lucky to have been a part of this unique institution …I can never imagine being anyplace else…To see t his institution grow from three floors at 225 Broadway to five campuses staggers the imagination. I am glad that I was here during this phenomenal transition… The high standards, the integrity and dedication of the faculty, staff and administration, mad e my association … a most satisfying and fulfilling one. Therefore, I consider myself very fortunate that I became a member of the Pace family when Homer Pace hired me that eventful day in 1932."
It can be safely said that Pace is a different and probably a better place as a result of Alfreda's presence. She taught her last class in December 1995. She went home for the Winter Break and did not r eturn to Pace. She moved to the Dominican Village, an enhanced living facility; and after a short period of adjustment, she met a young nurses' aide who worked at the facility. The woman was studying for her license and was having a difficult time. Al freda tutored her. On May 21, 1997, the young woman went to Alfreda's room to tell her that she had passed her LPN exam. Until the very end, Alfreda was doing what she loved doing most.
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