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Faculty and staff honored at annual luncheon

Four faculty members were honored May 12, 2010, for superior scholarship, teaching, mentoring and service at Elon University’s faculty-staff awards luncheon. Those recognized included Eric Hall, April Post, Todd Lee and Jeffrey C. Pugh.

From left: J. Todd Lee, Jeffrey C. Pugh, April Post and Eric Hall.

The award announcements, made in front of hundreds of colleagues who filled Alumni Gym for the annual ceremony, also included recognition to longtime employees of the university and to pending retirees.

Distinguished Scholar Award
Jeffrey C. Pugh
Maude Sharpe Powell Professor of Religious Studies

Pugh, the 11th recipient of Elon’s Distinguished Scholar Award, is a renowned scholar in the field of religious studies, a respected colleague and an influential teacher of Elon students for more than two decades.

“The significant gains in academic intensity and intellectual depth that have marked Elon’s recent history could not have occurred without the work of faculty members like Jeffrey Pugh,” says a fellow faculty member. “He is an important example of how and why scholarship can thrive.”

The award recognizes a faculty member whose research has earned peer commendation and respect, and who has made significant contributions to his or her field of study.

Pugh joined Elon’s faculty in 1986 after earning his master of divinity degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., and another master’s and doctorate from Drew University Graduate School in Madison, N.J. His graduate research focused on systematic and historical theology, and he continued that work after arriving at Elon. His ambitious research has produced four books that seek approaches to religious and Christian studies that have both historical and contemporary relevance.

Of Pugh’s first book, The Anselmic Shift: Christology and Method in Karl Barth’s Theology (1990), a colleague at another university says: “[It] is considered by us theologians as a genuine religious classic and an indispensible source for understanding the impact Karl Barth made on twentieth century theology.”

In his second book, The Matrix of Faith: Reclaiming a Christian Vision (2001), another colleague says: “Pugh has done something remarkable in this text. He has engaged traditional theological thinkers, ‘dead white guys,’ in meaningful encounter with contemporary media, events and commentators … and offered a renewed look at what the Christian tradition has to offer.”

Pugh’s most recent two books have found applications beyond the traditional realm of religious studies. His Entertaining the Triume Mystery: God, Science and the Space Between (2003) addresses the complicated relationship between religion and science. His critically acclaimed 2009 work, Religionless Christianity: Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Troubled Times, focuses on one of the foremost voices in twentieth century theology and the ways his work is applied in today’s political and religious climate.

Pugh’s extensive research into Bonhoeffer’s life and work earned him a seat on the International Bonhoeffer Society’s board of directors. A frequent presenter at domestic and international conferences on Bonhoeffer and scores of other topics, Pugh also is a frequently invited speaker at colleges and universities.

Pugh has served two terms as chair of the Department of Religious studies. In 2000, he won the university’s Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2006, he was named a Maude Sharpe Powell Professor. Recently, he penned a chapter for a book published by Elon faculty members Tom Arcaro and Rosemary Haskell, Navigating the Global Experience: Becoming a Responsible Citizen. Last year, he was a member of the committee that created The Elon Commitment strategic plan.

Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching
J. Todd Lee
Professor of Mathematics

A longtime mathematics faculty member renowned for his infectious enthusiasm both inside and outside the classroom, Lee is the 39th Elon faculty member to receive the award, established by President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley ’46 and his wife, Verona Daniels Danieley, in honor of their parents.

Lee joined the Elon faculty in 1995 after completing his graduate work at Texas Tech University. He’d already been honored for his innovative approach to teaching, receiving Texas Tech’s Mathematics Graduate Student Teaching Award in 1994. He brought a gregarious personality considered rare among typical mathematics faculty.

“When we hired Todd, we knew that we were hiring someone who was different,” say his mathematics colleagues. “Todd’s constant and enthusiastic efforts have helped create a pride in the work we do and excitement we feel about our discipline.”

Lee, who serves as director of the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Fellows division of the Elon College Fellows, teaches a number of courses for interdisciplinary audiences in addition to advanced mathematics courses. These courses range from general studies requirements to prerequisites for several majors.

For one former student, it’s Lee’s focus on the process of mathematics as well as the answer to a problem that proves most beneficial.

“He never tells you if you are right or wrong without showing him proof you are sure of your answer,” says the student. “It’s never a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but also a ‘why,’ which makes all the difference.”

Lee’s mentorship of students – and colleagues – doesn’t stop at the classroom door. A fixture of his department’s weekly Math Teas, he engages students and faculty in conversations about their courses and research, as well as casual chats about music, movies, video games and more. He’s cultivated a culture of “math love,” as his colleagues call it, and in return, students and faculty have designated him a “math god.”

A strong proponent of undergraduate research, Lee has mentored more than 30 students in their projects and encouraged countless more to submit their work to conferences. In the past year alone, he’s served as committee chair or co-chair for four projects.

“Todd has a knack for identifying our best and brightest and cajoling them into performing beyond their own expectations,” say colleagues in the mathematics department. “He doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer when asking students to go to conferences.”

Lee, who won the Elon College Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007, previously worked with students as faculty co-adviser for the Interdisciplinary Mathematical Contest in Modeling from 1999 to 2003 and the student chapter of the Mathematical Association of America from 1997 to 2002.

Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award
Eric Hall
Associate Professor of Exercise Science

To those who know Hall, it should come as no surprise that he has been named the 2010 Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award recipient.

As the current faculty-in-residence in the William R. Kenan Jr. Honors Pavilion, Hall finds himself surrounded by some of Elon’s brightest students every day. In the classroom, he introduces other students to the core concepts of exercise science, the rigorous process of scholarship and the sophisticated technology critical to research in the exercise science field.

“On a campus with high standards for mentoring and within a department of outstanding mentors, Eric Hall represents the best of the best,” say his colleagues in the Department of Exercise Science.

Hall joined Elon’s faculty in 2000 and since has an amassed an impressive body of research, becoming a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine in 2006. He often includes students in his research but also works tirelessly to support them in their independent endeavors, often with impressive results. In the past year alone, two students he mentored won first prize in the master’s/bachelor’s division of the Southeast Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, a significant accomplishment for such young scholars. Their success is a testament to Hall’s exceptional mentorship.

“He taught me the research process and constantly made himself available to assist me,” says one student, “but was hands-off when necessary so I could make my own mistakes and then learn from them.”

Says an alumna who worked with Hall, “I can remember late nights at the library where I would send Dr. Hall emails with questions, and he would respond within minutes. All of my friends who were working on their projects were jealous that I had a mentor that was so attentive and responsive to my questions.”

Hall is the third recipient of the Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award. The award was established by Tom and Beth Ward; their sons A.T. ’05, Christopher ’08 and Chase; and Tom Ward’s mother, Dorothy Mears Ward, to honor faculty or staff members who demonstrate a commitment to Elon undergraduates through outstanding mentoring.

Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility
April Post
Lecturer in Spanish

Post, a 2001 Elon graduate, returned to North Carolina in 2004 and immediately made an impact in her classes, her church and for local Hispanic students and their families.

She began teaching at Elon in 2004 after completing her master’s degree at California State University in Sacramento. One of the classes she taught was the 300-level Spanish conversation course, and she wanted to add a service-learning component to its requirements. She teamed up with one of her former education professors, Glenda Crawford, and Crawford’s capstone seminar class to create the Amigos Club.

In the classroom component of the program, Elon students learn about the social and educational issues facing children and families for whom English is not a native language.

Outside the classroom, Elon students pair with English language learners in Alamance County schools, including Cummings High School and Turrentine and Broadview Middle schools. The experience has proven transformational for Elon’s participants.

“It’s the perfect coupling of interactive learning and community service,” says a current student.

Outside of Elon, Post has brought energy and a passion for service to Integrity Community Church, where she and her family worship. Pastor Bud Wrenn calls Post one of the church’s “key leaders,” and in 2006, the church named Post its Volunteer of the Year.

Post drew upon her experiences traveling abroad in Ecuador, Chile, Costa Rica and Spain to plan and lead church service trips to Mexico and Guatemala. She also plays an integral role in raising funds and encouraging parishioners to participate in service endeavors.

Post is the eighth recipient of the Periclean Award, which is presented annually to an Elon faculty or staff member whose service to the broader community exemplifies the Periclean ideals of civic engagement and service.

Honored for their years of service to Elon are the following staff and faculty and have retired this academic year or will do so at the end of the semester:

Lamar Bland – English
Leary Davis – Elon University School of Law
Frank Harris – Physics
Jim Pace – Religious Studies
Jane Romer – Foreign Languages
Jerry Tolley – University Advancement
George Troxler – History & Cultural and Special Programs
Anne Melyn Cassebaum – English
James Edward McCall – Print Shop


Eric Townsend,
5/12/2010 3:16 PM