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College of Arts & Sciences recognizes outstanding alumni

Lawrence "Larry" T. Sondhaus ’80, Chris Miller ’99 and John Tumbleston ’06 received the 2014 Elon College Distinguished Alumni Awards during a special May 1 ceremony.

l-r: Lawrence "Larry" T. Sondhaus ’80, John Tumbleston ’06 and Chris Miller ’99

Three outstanding alumni from Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences were honored at a special luncheon Thursday afternoon for accomplishments in their professions and representing the school’s and Elon’s values in their fields and the world.

Lawrence “Larry” T. Sondhaus ’80 was recognized for his contributions to the social sciences. Chris K. Miller ’99 received the award for his work in the arts and the humanities and John Tumbleston ’06 for his accomplishments in the natural, mathematical and computing sciences.

Lawrence “Larry” T. Sondhaus ’80
Elon College Distinguished Alumnus
Award in Social Sciences

“In the Department of History and Geography we hope to train graduates who are not only prepared to fulfill the university’s mission of being global citizens, but also to excel as practitioners of their chosen discipline, as historians, as creators of meanings and ways of understanding the world. Larry, who graduated in 1980 before we even put words to all of those aspirations, nonetheless embodies them.” —Charles Irons, associate professor of history

A history and philosophy double major at Elon, Sondhaus is a professor of history at the University of Indianapolis, where he also chairs the Department of History & Political Science and serves as director of graduate studies. He is an accomplished scholar in his field, having authored 12 books and multiple journal articles. His most recent books include “The Great War at Sea: A Naval History of World War I,” which will be published later this year by Cambridge University Press, “World War I: The Global Revolution” (2011) and “Strategic Culture and Ways of War” (2006). He is an expert on naval power and on the people and polities that supported and staffed those navies, often looking beyond the British, French and American navies to include those of other states, such as the Austria-Hungarian, Chilean and Brazilian navies. Three of his books have been translated into other languages, appearing in German, Italian, Slovenian, Portuguese and Korean editions. He has also played a central role in bringing to fruition the Richard G. Luger Academy, a satellite program of the University of Indianapolis that allows students to take a political science course, conduct an internship in Washington, D.C., and learn to build bridges between the political divide.

Chris K. Miller ’99
Elon College Distinguished Alumnus

Award in the Arts & Humanities

“From his foundations at Elon, Chris has created a successful professional career with projects in all stages; he calls this ‘the best job in the world’: he is getting paid to do the work of a creative artist. Chris’s creative brilliance is balanced by his sensitive, genuine and generous nature. He credits the broad academic and artistic knowledge and experience he gained at Elon as the foundation for where everything went.” —Victoria Fischer Faw, professor of music

Miller worked closely with Professor Victoria Fischer Faw as an undergraduate music student at Elon, where he cultivated a passion for dramatic composition that led him to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in musical theater writing from New York University. He later established a career as a composer and creator of musical dramatic productions in New York City. An award-winning composer, Miller’s subjects range from explorations of the culture, history and music of the Mississippi delta and the mountains of Appalachia, to the operatic world of Italy and children’s literature. Alongside lyricist Nathan Tysen, Miller has contributed songs to PBS’s “The Electric Company,” “Sesame Street”—something that earned them a 2012 Daytime Emmy Award—and “Elmo’s World,” with Miller writing primarily Elmo’s music. In 2010 he also co-scored the successful revival of “Angels in America” and composed an off-Broadway musical, The Burnt Part Boys, which was nominated for two Lucille Lortel Awards, including Best Musical. He provided the score for a musical based upon the novel “Tuck Everlasting” that will be on Broadway in summer 2015. He is currently working on three commissions for Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons/TheatreWorks Palo Alto and Signature Theatre in Arlington, Va.

‚ÄčJohn Tumbleston ’06
Elon College Distinguished Alumnus Award
in the Natural, Mathematical & Computing Sciences

“[John] came here both as a Teaching Fellow and as an Honors Fellow, largely for the opportunity to continue his passion, which was cross-country running, which he was able to do, and do well here. …  He was the first in a series of physics majors that would come through our department that would later include Ali Deatsch ’13 in volleyball and James Carroll ’12 in soccer, who would define, for me, for our department and the university as a whole, what it is to be a student-athlete in this country.” —Tony Crider, associate professor of physics

Besides being a stellar physics student in the classroom, Tumbleston was an accomplished student-athlete at Elon. A member of the men’s track and field/cross country team, he was named the A.L. Hook Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2005 and to the ESPN Men’s Track and Field/Cross Country First Team twice during his college career. Following graduation he went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate in physics from the University of North Carolina, later completing a post-doctoral program at North Carolina State University. A prolific scholar, Tumbleston has published 30 peer-reviewed scholarly articles in science journal. His graduate research focused on the development of a new type of solar cells that used plastic rather than the more-expensive silicon panels, something that can help create a more affordable, sustainable energy source. As an alumnus, he regularly visits campus to share his expertise and offer job opportunities at EIPI Systems, the start-up in Durham, N.C., where he is working in the burgeoning field of 3D printing and manufacturing.

Keren Rivas,
5/1/2014 2:20 PM