Mary Jo Festle named Maude Sharpe Powell Professor
The professor of history is the fourth recipient of an honor that supports preeminent teachers and scholars at Elon University.
Professor Mary Jo Festle, a widely respected educator, historian and mentor, has been named a Maude Sharpe Powell Professor at Elon University in recognition of distinguished contributions to both her discipline and to the practice of teaching and learning.
Festle is the fourth Elon faculty member to hold the professorship, which may be awarded to a faculty member from any field of study to support research and student mentorship.
“It’s such a wonderful recognition, and I’m extremely honored,” Festle said. “I’m very grateful for the many opportunities I’ve already enjoyed here at Elon and also for the opportunities this professorship will make possible.”
Festle joined Elon’s faculty in 1993 and served as director of the Honors Program from 2004 to 2008. Since 2011, she has served as associate director of the Center for Advancement of Teaching and Learning.
Festle received the university’s 2010-11 Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching and has published numerous scholarly articles and essays as well as two books, “Playing Nice: Politics and Apologies in Women’s Sports” and “Second Wind: Oral Histories of Lung Transplant Survivors.”
In the latter work, Festle and students conducted nearly 60 interviews with lung transplant patients. The book was a labor of love for Festle, whose two brothers – one of whom was a lung transplant recipient – died of cystic fibrosis.
“Mary Jo Festle is widely recognized as an extraordinary teacher-scholar-mentor,” said Elon University Provost Steven House. “Her devotion to students and her leadership, both in and out the classroom, have helped Elon become the fine institution it is today. She is wise and compassionate and so very deserving of this recognition.”
Festle earned master’s and doctoral degrees in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree from Knox College, where she studied social change. She assumes the Maude Sharpe Powell Professorship previously held by Russell Gill, a professor of English who retired last spring. Jeffrey C. Pugh, professor of religious studies, holds a second Maude Sharpe Powell Professorship. Professor Emeritus John Sullivan was the initial recipient of the honor.
James B. Powell and his siblings, John S. Powell, Thomas E. Powell, II, and Sophia Maude Powell Wolfe, established the Maude Sharpe Powell Professorship in 1985 in memory of their mother. James Powell is an Elon Life Trustee and his wife, Anne Ellington Powell, is currently a Trustee.
The Powells have been among Elon University’s loyal benefactors, having made generous gifts over the years in support of scholarships and professorships, as well as the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center, the Caroline E. Powell Building and the Anne Ellington Powell Master Artist Series.