story by Cindy Reid
photos by Paul Nurnberg
Meet Dr. Robert LeFavi, PhD, DMin, the newly appointed Dean of the Beaufort campus of the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Dr LeFavi has the honor of being the first Dean appointed to the USCB Beaufort campus and is excited about his mission to enhance programs on the campus. He comes to Beaufort by way of Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Campus, where Dr. LeFavi was Head of Health Sciences and Kinesiology, a department with roughly 2,000 students.
Dr. LeFavi has an impressive Curriculum Vita, having received his Ph.D. in Health and Human Performance from Auburn University, a D.Min. (Doctor of Ministry) from the University of the South, M.Div. (Master of Divinity) from Erskine Theological Seminary, M.B.A. from Nova Southeastern University and a B.S. in Health Education, from the University of Florida.
Dr. LeFavi says, “I was in the university system of Georgia for twenty-eight years, and I genuinely enjoyed my time there. I had absolutely no intention of leaving. But, when I came across this position it hit an entrepreneurial nerve in me and I was immediately drawn to it. In fact, it now seems to me that everything I have done to this point has prepared me for the task of fostering the new programs on the Beaufort campus. I can approach it as an entrepreneur, an academic, a community member, and even a parent. This position is extremely exciting to me. I don’t even feel as if I am going to work when I pull up to campus.”
He says, “USCB has provided resources in order to re-focus energies to the Beaufort Campus. As I see it, what this campus needs is student life. USCB’s Beaufort Campus is a great place for students to study, work and have fun. Part of that is going to be creating an environment in which students will want to be on campus, hanging out on the lawn, throwing a Frisbee, simply enjoying being here. The resources – the landscape, city, academic buildings, walkability and beauty – are already here. I wish I had the option, years ago, of attending a beautiful university on the water, where I could have personalized attention in small classes from outstanding professors, walk everywhere and enjoy the history and natural resources of a place like Beaufort!”
“The USCB Beaufort campus has excellent academic programs, such as Studio Art, and we will undoubtedly look at other academic programs that would be a natural fit to be developed and strengthened in Beaufort. Added to that, we now have Honors Biology and Honors Nursing programs in Beaufort, and I expect us to broaden our honors offerings,” Dr. LeFavi continues. “And that can all happen as we create a more vibrant campus environment. We now have a great start to creating such an environment; with the new dorms and their proximity to the campus we have a place for students to hang out, socialize and engage the community in an intimate campus feel.”
“We are so fortunate to have the support of the community. It is extremely important to have local, experienced and interested community members step up, to provide support in various ways, including new and creative ideas, such as the dorm project,” Dr. LeFavi says, “Many individuals have been genuinely supportive in assisting us as this campus returns to not only its ‘glory days,’ but to even more glorious days.”
“Both the campus and the community rely on each other, and in fact need each other. I have become immensely impressed with the unequivocal and broad-based support for the new programs on this campus throughout the entire community. The well-regarded Center for Fine Arts and the highly successful OLLI program have brought many to the Beaufort campus. And while these points of contact strengthen the ties between town and gown, it is now time to start engaging these bright students with the community,” Dr. LeFavi says.
Next time you are on Boundary Street, take a look at the beautiful new dorms recently constructed at the intersection of Boundary and Newcastle, “In partnership with the University of South Carolina Beaufort, 303 Associates is developing a three-story, 24 apartment complex at the intersection of Boundary and Newcastle Streets that will have room for 92 students in USCB student housing,” (from the 303 Associates press release.)
Dr. LeFavi says, “I am so thrilled to have a new housing complex as part of the Beaufort campus. In addition to students, the new dorms will also house Dorm Directors and Residence Advisors, and it is in easy walking distance to the campus.”
Jewel in the Crown
“If I were a high school senior and I had the opportunity to tour a campus like this, I wouldn’t visit another one! We have a beautiful campus on the water in a historic city filled with friendly people, where you can walk to everything, where your teachers know you on a personal and mentoring level and in an intimate small campus environment. We have an involved community that hosts multiple events on any given day, and we have every kind of water activity from boating and sailing to fishing and the beautiful beaches. Not to mention that Charleston and Savannah are a short drive for students to also explore. I truly believe that the Beaufort Campus is a jewel in the crown of USCB.”
Dr. LeFavi is an expert in the fields of health, nutrition, sport science, sport medicine and psychology and has published over 725 articles (scientific and popular press) in his various fields of expertise. He is also co-owner of a CrossFit franchise in Effingham County and a previous owner of Gold’s Gym for 15 years. In 2013, he competed in the World CrossFit Games in the master’s division. More locally, Dr. LeFavi has studied the biomechanics of Beaufort weightlifting phenomenon C.J. Cummings, and was recently quoted by National Geographic on his findings.
Dr. LeFavi and his wife, Sue, have three children and have relocated to Beaufort in a home off Broad River Blvd. while they build in the Habersham community. He is ordained in the Anglican and Lutheran Churches, is the Pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church in Springfield, Georgia and is a columnist for the Savannah Morning News. Dr. LeFavi and his family have dual citizenship with Italy, and he is the liaison for the development of a sister city agreement between Beaufort County/Hilton Head Island and Verona, Italy.
Favorite place in Beaufort?
“The view at the end of the campus where Carteret meets Boundary,” says Dr.LeFavi, speaking of Bellamy Curve, “That view out into the water, to me, is stunningly beautiful. Just think of a student being able to walk past that view from the dorms to the campus everyday!”
Dr.Le Favi concludes, “We have a rich history, which we honor as we move forward. Things constantly change throughout history, and this campus has always adapted to situations and events it faced. We will continue to do so while we work together to develop a thriving campus, so everyone can see this jewel.”