Elon's 2014 retirees recognized
A total of 21 faculty and staff members retired from Elon this year.
Edie Alexander, administrative assistant for the directors of the Honors Fellows, undergraduate research and writing across the university programs
After staying at home for 12 years with her children, Edie Alexander was ready for something challenging. In 1988, she began working part-time for Elon’s former chaplain, Richard McBride.
“The changes in Elon since I started working here have been nothing short of phenomenal,” she says.
Working at Elon was a constant source of inspiration for Alexander. “There is a rush that comes with working at Elon. You are inspired by the students, surrounded by friendships and challenged in ways you would not find elsewhere,” she says.
She has enjoyed working with students and other faculty and staff members. “We are so dependent on each other to provide the quality education and life experiences our students receive at Elon,” she says.
“It has been an honor to work here and be a very small part of something so life changing for many.”
She and husband, Jack, plan to travel, spend time with family, work in the community and, “just slow down and enjoy life.”
John Burbridge, professor of operations and supply chain management
Although retiring from Elon, John Burbridge leaves behind a tangible mark of his impact on the university. The first floor atrium of the Koury Business Center, Burbridge Atrium, is named in honor of his decade of leadership.
As dean of Elon’s Love School of Business from 1996-2006, John Burbridge helped advance the reputation of the school by creating the Legends of Business Speaker Series, the Elon Enterprise Academy and a student advisory board. Under his leadership, the school achieved AACSB accreditation in 2004 by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
“When I arrived at Elon, there was considerable change underway but nothing like what has occurred these past 18 years,” he says. “I believe the biggest change is how the stature and prestige of the institution and its schools and departments have risen.”
“I will miss the students and teaching and being able to access the Elon library and interact with the staff there,” he says.
His favorite memory of his time at Elon is the 1998 graduation. Due to rain, the ceremony was moved inside the Long Building. “The rain plan had not been well thought out so faculty and most of the guests went scurrying for cover along with me,” he says. Burbridge remembers ordering pizza and drinks for everyone, watching graduation on the television monitors and setting up a party in the large classroom. “As a result of the 1998 experience, Elon developed a much more comprehensive rain plan,” he says.
Upon retiring, he plans to move to the Baltimore area with his wife, Mary, to be closer to their five children, Barney, John, Kasey, Jane and Susan.
Marilyn Burnett, custodian
Marilyn Burnett started out as a temporary worker in 1990 but soon became a full-time employee.
She enjoyed meeting a lot of nice students and still writes letters back and forth with some of them. As a custodian, Burnett primarily worked in the area that is now known as the Global Neighborhood. She has also worked at football and basketball games on a volunteer basis.
“It wasn’t all fun and games, it was hard work,” she says. “But I really enjoyed working at Elon.”
Burnett says her time at Elon gave her the opportunity to travel outside of the country for the first time. She traveled with 17 other faculty and staff members to England as they toured museums and palaces, went shopping and explored England as a group.
“That was something to remember,” she says.
Upon retiring, she plans to visit her son, Rudy, in Florida and travel with her husband, David, to visit family in Georgia.
David currently works for Elon as a floor maintenance worker in Alumni Gym. Marilyn enjoys going to Elon basketball games with her grandson, Zion. Her other grandson, Lenard, is a member of Elon Academy.
Betty Covington, office coordinator for academic support and advising
After fifteen years at Bank of America, Betty Covington came to Elon in 1982 to assist academic support and advising.
Working 30-plus years at Elon, Covington has witnessed Elon’s impressive growth. During the beginning of her time at Elon, Covington says she could always find most professors, students and co-workers either checking their mail in Long Building or eating lunch at Varsity Sports Grille.
She is proud of how Elon has developed and says, “At one point, I probably knew all the professors, staff and physical plant workers by name and face. I can no longer say that.”
She enjoyed working with her co-workers and says she will miss the daily interaction with them and with students.
Covington says her favorite memory of her time at Elon was working with the gospel choir as their advisor for 15 years. “I became very close to each one of them and still keep in contact with most of them today.”
She remembers traveling with the choir to Montego Bay, Jamaica and says members worked tirelessly to fundraise for each other. “Working and traveling with them was a learning experience for all of us,” she says. “We were a family.”
Upon retiring, she plans to spend time with her great-grandson, Aiden, and get involved in volunteer service. “Most of all, I just want to relax and enjoy my family,” she says.
Glenda Crawford, professor of education and director of Teaching Fellows
In 1982 Glenda Crawford started at Elon as an adjunct professor while completing her doctoral degree at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Just days after receiving her degree, she joined Elon full time. She retired this month.
“I defended my dissertation on a Friday morning and began work the following Monday,” she says.
Her favorite memory of her time at Elon is the semester she spent abroad. As the faculty facilitator for the Elon program in London, she worked with Elon students and British faculty. During her time there, she enjoyed attending the theater, visiting museums and traveling to Prague, Florence, Paris and Amsterdam. “Since that semester I have traveled back to London numerous times and have maintained lasting friendships with former program director, Tony Carr, and his wife, Helen.”
At Elon, Crawford has been impressed with the progress made in the intellectual climate on campus. She served on the committee that worked to establish a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa on campus. “I am so proud that we currently have a thriving chapter,” she says.
Crawford will miss the many cherished colleagues she has interacted with in a variety of ways during her 25 years at Elon, but she already returned to her passion of oil painting. Her dream plans include studying art in southern France along with traveling and painting in Italy and England. She also intends to spend more time with her two granddaughters, Piper and Quinn.
Cindy Duke, administrative assistant for Isabella Cannon Global Education Center
In her 25 years at Elon, Cindy Duke has witnessed first-hand the growth and transformation of Elon’s renowned study abroad program.
When she started as a secretary for the Office of Academic Affairs, the only study abroad options were either a Winter Term or spring semester in London. Eventually, the office became the Isabella Canon Global Education Center with over 30 Winter Term study abroad programs and over 60 semester programs around the world.
Her favorite memories at Elon include traveling to London with other faculty and staff members and watching her daughter, Shannon, graduate magna cum laude from Elon.
“Mostly, I will miss being a part of Elon and those I have worked with for so long,” she says.
Working with the study abroad programs has inspired her future plans. “Starting with the United States, I want to explore all of the places I have never been,” she says.
Duke is also looking forward to spending more time with family and close friends, volunteering, working on home projects and getting back into old hobbies.
Russell Gill, Maude Sharpe Powell Professor, professor of English and distinguished university professor
Russell Gill joined the Elon faculty in 1976 as a young professor. “I came here looking for a place where I could work independently and raise a family.”
In the past 38 years, he has served as chair of the department of literature, languages and communications (predecessor to the English department), coordinator of humanities, director of general studies, and dean of arts and sciences. Gill also chaired the steering committee that worked to establish a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa on campus.
Gill retired this month and says he will miss the contact with all of the people he met at Elon. “My favorite memories are of the students I have taught, the faculty and administrators who I have worked with, and all my friends on the buildings and grounds staff.”
Among students, he is known for his popular course on Edgar Allen Poe, which he taught for more than a decade.
Gill says he will continue doing research and writing in his retirement. He is currently interested in romance as a literary genre. He also plans to garden, travel and spend time with wife Diane, his five children, Hannah, Benjamin, Nathan, Joseph and John, and his two grandchildren, Sam and Sophia.
He will also continue his involvement in a number of service organizations that focus on developmental disabilities in Alamance County. “I should be happily occupied,” he says.
Nelson Gunn, traffic security officer
Nelson Gunn has worked at Elon for almost a decade.
He says his job allowed him to come in contact with several of Elon’s guest speakers.
“I enjoyed seeing and meeting a lot of the special guest speakers that came to Elon,” he says. “I will miss working with everyone at Elon.”
Ken Hassell, associate professor of art and art history
Ken Hassell has made the most of his 23 years of teaching at Elon.
Shortly after coming to Elon in 1990, he founded both the photography and digital art departments. Every January he traveled to London to teach a course on immigration communities and has presented research at conferences in Liverpool and Budapest. Recently, his unorthodox art exhibit titled, “The Artist is Present,” captured campus-wide attention.
Hassell also advised the Periclean Scholars Class of 2014, working to establish a community center in the Appalachia region. He says he will miss the close relationships he formed with those students along with time in the classroom conversing with students.
“I learn a great deal from other people and learn to respect most people,” he says. “I think that’s why I became a teacher. Really, I just like talking with people.”
Although he formally retired from teaching this month, Hassell will not retire from intellectual inquiry. He plans to continue his research on people, understanding their identities and capturing their stories, and will possibly write a book. He also plans to document the lives of a female roller derby team in Greensboro and apply for a Fulbright to pursue immigration research in London.
Maureen Ihrie, associate professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures
Maureen Ihrie’s teaching career has taken her around the world.
Before coming to Elon in 2001, she was a professor at Union College, Bryn Mawr College and Lafayette College. She also taught classes in several cities in both Spain and Mexico.
After 10 years at Kansas State University, she moved to North Carolina with her husband and began in her position at Elon shortly after. She admires the growth Elon has accomplished during her time here. “I have never seen a university move forward as decisively as Elon,” she says.
Ihrie, who retired this month, says she will miss interacting with college students on a daily basis. “I like young men and women in the 18-24 age group,” she says. “It's an interesting time where young people can find their passions, discover new ideas, and become excited about learning and about the unknown that's always waiting to be discovered.”
While at Elon, Ihrie served on the Honors Advisory Committee and the National Fellowships Advisory Committee. She has co-authored two books titled, “World Literature in Spanish” and “The Feminist Encyclopedia of Spanish Literature.”
After 13 years at Elon, Ihrie has a lot on her post-retirement to-do list. “I plan to travel, cultivate bonsai and orchids, volunteer, read, become a gym rat and reacquaint myself with the kitchen,” she says.
Martha Hill, box office manager and program assistant for cultural and special programs
Martha Hill has worked at Elon for nearly 40 years as the secretary for several staff members. Most recently, she managed the box office.
Well known by those in the Department of Performing Arts, Hill says she will miss the students and all of the people she worked with. She enjoyed interacting with people who came to the box office, along with the performing arts students.
A farewell reception was held in her honor, with a line of students, staff and other members of the Elon community waiting to talk to Hill. “There were so many people there,” she says. “It was just wonderful.”
Living only a few minutes from Elon, Hill says she still enjoys coming to campus every once in awhile. “My son works in Colonnades and I drive him to work every day,” she says. “I come to the office where I used to work and they all hug me… being here is like being at home.”
Hill says that she used to travel a lot by herself, but now that she is retired she is looking forward to relaxing and staying close to home. She also plans to spend more time with her two sons, Jeffrey and Lonnie Jr.
William Ingram, custodian
William Ingram has been a part of the Elon staff since March 1997. After 17 years of service, he retired in February as the custodian in the Koury Center. Ingram is enjoying retirement and still deciding how to spend the next chapter of his life.
Connie Keller, coordinator of library technical services and systems
Connie Keller has been an Elon staff member since fall 1979. She retired in December.
Keller, who was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi in 2011 as a faculty and staff initiate, says she misses her co-workers most and loves how the library has evolved over the last 35 years.
Keller’s future plans include lots of travel. She just recently retuned from a quilt convention held in Paducah, Ky. She also plans on spending more time with her daughter, Lydia and her husband, Clark Feldmann, her granddaughter, Samantha and her husband Ryan and great granddaughter Lexi.
Cynthia Lewis, associate professor of physical therapy education
Cynthia Lewis retired this month after spending 16 years at Elon. In January 1998, a month prior to her start, Lewis helped establish Elon’s Department of Physical Therapy Education.
In her 16 years of working within the department, Lewis says her favorite memories have come from working with physical therapy graduate students to become skilled clinicians and problem solvers. She has taught more than 750 physical therapy students.
What will she miss the most? She says, “Those student ah ha moments have brought me great joy and have made my academic career at Elon rewarding beyond measure.”
While Lewis says working part time is a possibility—perhaps pro bono in a physical therapuy clinic or as an adjunct teacher—she is also quick to note that she wants to “play” first. On her first morning of retirement, Lewis says she will sleep in until 7 a.m. She then has several short trips planned with her seven great nieces and nephews: Michael, John, Lauren, Yadira, Kathrine, Samuel and Jonathan. Her bucket list also includes future international travel, biking the Blue Ridge Parkway, mountain biking in Colorado, hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail and trails in Oregon, canoeing rivers in western North Carolina and going on a corn roast with Canadian cousins in Aberta, Canada.
Overall, Lewis looks forward to the opportunities for personal reflection and internal growth that retirement will provide. As she embarks on this next milestone, she says, “I have many family members and friends to thank for the support for this next chapter in my life.”
Janice Richardson, associate professor of mathematics and education
Janice Richardson has been apart of the Elon community since August 1983. She retired this month.
While at Elon, Richardson has served as the math education program coordinator and co-investigator of an NSF Elon University Noyce Scholars Grant. Also dedicated to service, she was a recipient of the Outstanding Service Award in the School of Education in 2012.
Richardson says she will miss working with teacher candidates in mathematics as well as teachers in the M.Ed. program. She will also miss the excitement of observing student teachers in the classroom.
“I have wonderful memories of travel and learning with students, including a semester in London, a summer course and a semester in Costa Rica, domestic travel with Teaching Fellows, and Winter Terms in Peru,” she says.
Richardson plans to continue to travel, starting with a family cruise in late July. She also plans to continue to learn Spanish, exercise daily and spend lots of time with family and friends.
Betsy Stevens, associate professor of business communications
Betsy Stevens joined the Elon faculty in 2001 as an associate professor of business communications. She retired this month.
During her time at Elon, Stevens created Elon’s first study abroad courses in both New Zealand and Vietnam. Stevens is a distinguished scholar in the field of business ethics and corporate codes. She has published more than 30 articles in journals, such as The Journal of Business Ethics, Business Communication Quarterly and The Journal of Business and Technical Communication.
In August 2013, Stevens was offered the opportunity to teach at the business school at Zayed University in Dubai. She is currently residing in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, teaching business courses at Zayed University and conducting research on corporate ethical codes. She says her new position has offered her the chance to see the world.
Stevens’ favorite memories of Elon include her colleagues in the business school, the flowers and large oaks trees on campus and her friends at the Elon Community Church.
Tom Tiemann, Jefferson Pilot Professor of Economics and professor of economics
Tom Tiemann retired this month after 30 years of being a part of the Elon Community.
While at Elon, Tiemann served as dean of Martha and Spencer Love School of Business from 1987 to 1992 and director of general studies from 1996 to 2000. Tiemann also completed extensive research and has had his work published in journals, such as The International Journal of Arts and Commerce and The International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy.
Tiemann says he will miss watching students develop intellectually, both over a semester and throughout their time at Elon. He says he’ll also miss his carpool crew, professors Steve DeLoach, Jeff Pugh and Paul Miller.
Tiemann and his wife, Eileen McGrath, plan to travel extensively. Their first trip will be to Italy next spring. Tiemann also plans to teach a course this summer for Elon in New York, and a short course on Urban Economics at Cracow University of Economics in October.
Mary Wise, associate vice president of academic affairs and associate professor of communications
Mary Wise arrived at Elon in September of 1997 and retired in January. During her time at Elon, she was extremely active in academic affairs and instrumental in developing many of Elon’s core traditions.
Wise processed more than 900 honor code cases, oversaw 15 planning weeks and school openings, helped re-institute new student convocation and helped start the Call to Honor ceremony. She has also devoted her time to updating the faculty handbook each summer, editing several accreditation reports and assisting with the tuition exchange program.
Wise says she will miss being a part of the day-to-day lives of her colleagues and living in the Elon community. She says new student convocation will be one of the Elon memories that will stand out most, as she enjoyed seeing the new students embark upon their collegiate journeys while knowing that she would get to know and guide them over four years.
Wise has 18 hobbies to keep her busy, such as genealogy, gardening, quilting, stained glass and fabric dying. Wise and husband Jerry share a love of travel and plan to visit London in June to stay in Elon’s flats and will accompany a Winter Term trip next January. This past February, Wise supervised an alternative break trip to Guatemala.