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College of Arts & Sciences recognizes distinguished alumni

Ralph Mueller ’83, Michael Capps ’99 and Carly Ledbetter ’13 were honored with the 2017 Elon College Distinguished Alumni Awards during an April 27 ceremony.

The 2017 Elon College Distinguished Alumni Award winners: Carly Ledbetter ’13, Ralph Mueller ’83 & Michael Capps ’99

Three outstanding alumni from Elon College, the College of Arts & Sciences were recognized during a special ceremony Thursday afternoon for the contributions they have made to their professions and for bringing honor to the school and to Elon. 

Ralph Mueller ’83 was recognized for his accomplishments in the natural, mathematical and computing sciences. Michael Capps ’99 was recognized for his contributions to the arts and the humanities and Carly Ledbetter ’13 received the award for her work in the social sciences.

“We have three shining examples of individuals who have become storytellers, three individuals of whom we are so proud,” said Steven House, provost, executive vice president and professor of biology, during the luncheon. “We believe you’re changing the world and it’s your stories we're telling every day.”

Honored were:

Ralph Mueller ’83

Elon College Distinguished Alumnus Award in the Natural, Mathematical & Computing Sciences 

“We remember Ralph as being self-motivated, always up for a challenge and having a good heart — characteristics absolutely necessary for his newest challenge to blend two universities into a single unit, Purdue University Northwest. PNW has chosen its new leadership well.” —Gerry Francis, assistant to the president for community relations, provost emeritus and professor emeritus of mathematics

Ralph Mueller ’83 (center) and his mentors in the Elon Department of Mathematics, Richard Haworth and Gerry Francis

Mueller serves as vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost at Purdue Northwest University in Indiana. A native of Germany and one of Elon’s first international students, he earned his degree in mathematics and minor in computer information systems from Elon in 1983. He went on to purse a master’s degree in mathematics from Wake Forest University in 1984 and a doctorate in research methodology from Virginia Tech in 1987.    

A consummate educator, throughout his 29-year career in higher education Mueller has served as a tenured faculty member of applied statistics with joint appointments in education, psychology and public policy/public administration. At Purdue Northwest, he oversees an institution of six colleges and 70-plus undergraduate and graduate degree programs, after the unification of two regional Purdue schools into a single university. Prior to that appointment, Mueller served as dean of the University of Hartford’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions in West Hartford, Connecticut, for seven years. There he served as founding director of the university’s Institute for Translational Research, a multidisciplinary umbrella for collaborations among faculty, students and community partners. Mueller is a prolific scholar, having published numerous books and peer-reviewed articles.

Michael Capps ’99

Elon College Distinguished Alumnus Award in the Arts & Humanities

“Michael was a peer leader who his fellow students would come to readily for help not only with classes but also with regard to how to deal with the kinds of issues collegiate students face in life every day — he was that well respected and mature.” —Thomas Erdmann, professor of music

Michael Capps ’99 and his Elon mentor, Professor of Music Thomas Eddmann

Capps graduated from Elon in 1999 with degrees in music education and music performance. Soon after graduation, he joined A.L. Stanback Middle School in Hillsborough, N.C., as its director of bands. Since then, he has built a robust, well-respected program, inspiring students to great musical achievement. His jazz and concert ensembles consistently receive high ratings at countless music festivals and competitions. As a result, his bands have received coveted invitations to perform at conferences and festivals, including multiple appearances at the North Carolina Music Educators Conference. 

When he is not working at the school, Capps is active as an adjudicator, guest conductor, performer and private brass instructor. He has performed cornet with the Triangle Brass Band and served as lead soprano and soloist for the Carolina Gold Drum and Bugle Corps, Alamance Jazz Band and Greensboro Philharmonia. He has played principal trumpet in the Elon University Community Orchestra and co-principal trumpet in the Church Street Brass. Additionally, he is the brass technician for Jordan High School Marching Band and acts as the North Carolina Music Educators Association Jazz Chair Elect. He regularly returns to campus to participate in music department events as a horn player and share his experiences with music majors and often brings his middle school jazz bands to take part in the annual Elon Jazz Festival. Capps lives in Mebane with wife, Erin, daughter Rylee and their two dogs, Max and Cece.

Carly Ledbetter ’13

Elon College Distinguished Alumnus Award in Social Sciences

“Carly Ledbetter has fit more living into her four years after Elon than many alumni will accomplish in a lifetime. In this, she is following a pattern she set early in life of seizing opportunities, allowing herself to experience them fully, and reporting out on them with candor, enthusiasm and unusual insight.” —Charles Irons, professor of history and chair of the Department of History and Geography

Carly Ledbetter ’13  and her Elon mentor in the Department of History and Geography, Nancy Midgette

A double major in history and strategic communications with a minor in women’s gender & sexualities studies, Ledbetter serves as lifestyle editor for The Huffington Post. Carly first joined the company in 2014 as part of a fellowship program, an opportunity she learned about through alumna Alanna Vagianos ’13, who was a Huffington Post Fellow at the time. Six months later, and after successfully demonstrating she had what it took to do the job, Ledbetter was hired full time. 

Managing a variety of tasks at once is key to her success as a writer and editor, and a skill she thanks Elon for helping her sharpen. Besides her academic work, during her time at Elon, Ledbetter was a member of the volleyball team and participated in multiple honors societies, including Omicron Delta Kappa. She studied abroad in London, where a professor’s suggestion that she keep a travel blog led to her first foray in developing a strong digital presence. At The Huffington Post, Ledbetter writes travel, style, taste and home pieces on a daily basis for the online outlet. A savvy cultural commentator, she has reached millions of people with her articles. In 2016 alone, she wrote 1,400 articles that received an aggregate of more than 70 million views, or 50,000 views per article. During that period she was one of the top three traffic-producing writers across the entire site and the fourth most shared writer site-wide. She lives in New York.

Keren Rivas,
4/27/2017 2:15 PM