Dr. Joan Pendergast
Chair, Department of Social Work and Title IX Coordinator
When Dr. Pendergast was finishing her Ph.D. in Social Work Education at the University of South Carolina, she dreamed of teaching at a school like Concord. “I have wanted to live in the mountains for as long as I can remember,” she says. In 2007, she accepted a tenure-track position at CU and has found a home here. “The campus community is welcoming and accepting,” she says. Before completing her doctoral degree, Dr. Pendergast was a practicing social worker, valuable experience she shares with her students. “When I speak with students about social work, I explain that this is the best job and worst job you can have,” she says. “It’s very rewarding to see how people can change their lives, and it can be discouraging when these changes do not come.” Dr. Pendergast is dedicated to preparing her students for the realities they’ll face after graduation, and says she enjoys “being a small part of their journey.”
Instructor of Theater and Communication Arts
Karen Vuranch brings decades of theater experience and extensive knowledge to Concord University. Vuranch has performed shows in every county in West Virginia, in 35 states and three foreign countries. She completed five performance tours of England and Wales, and toured China with 35 other storytellers. In 1982, she moved from Ohio to West Virginia to work for the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia as a storyteller. Here, she met her husband and together, the couple eventually founded their own theater company, WV Enterprises. Vuranch has written many performance pieces, including Coal Camp Memories, a play she wrote based on oral histories she collected. She also has 12 living history characters – remarkable women in history – that she researched and performs. “Teaching is a culmination of my years of work,” Vuranch says. “I have had years of being on stage and accolades. Now, I am ready to share what I know and to see my students flourish.”
Concord’s education department was what initially drew Taylor Carter to the university, but like many freshmen, that major changed once she started taking classes. Taylor says she realized teaching wasn’t for her, but she really loved the geography classes she was taking. Now, Taylor is a Political Science and Geography double major. Her interest in politics lead to her involvement in SGA, and she is currently the president of that organization. Taylor is also in Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society, and Phi Alpha Delta, Concord’s pre-law fraternity. Concord’s small size was another factor in Taylor’s decision to come to Athens. During her time here, she says a smaller campus allowed her to explore a number of ways to get involved and feel known. “Once you find your niche at Concord, you’ll never want to leave,” Taylor says.