Colleagues, friends gather to dedicate bench in memory of late professor
Heidi Glaesel Frontani, a professor of geography and member of Elon's faculty for more than 17 years, died in February following a sudden illness.
Visible from the window of what was the Linder Hall office of Heidi Glaesel Frontani, there now sits a bench bearing the name of the late Elon professor who passed away unexpectedly this spring. And on Monday, dozens of her friends and colleagues gathered around the new bench to dedicate it to her memory, and talk about what she brought to their lives, and to Elon.
The bench is now "a place to sit and remember, a concrete space near where she worked at taught," said the Rev. Jan Fuller, Elon University's chaplain, during the dedication ceremony.
Frontani, professor of geography and a member of the Elon faculty for more than 17 years, died Feb. 26 following a sudden illness. Frontani joined Elon in 1998 and was remembered as a prolific scholar and a passionate mentor for her students.
One colleague noted how appropriate it was to see a student sitting on the new bench shortly after it had been put in place, because in her life, Frontani also offered great support to those she taught just as the bench was supporting the student that afternoon.
A major area of Frontani's academic focus was on the continent of Africa, and at the time of her death she was serving as a Senior Faculty Research Fellow, working on a book on charitable foundations and the birth of medical philanthropy in Africa. She served as coordinator of the geography program from 1998 to 2011, chair of the Department of History & Geography from 2009 to 2012, and as interim coordinator of the African & African-American Studies program from 2014 to 2015. She also served at various times as faculty advisor for the “Visions” environmental magazine and for the Gamma Theta Upsilon geography honor society.
She was a strong advocate for the people of Africa, and serves as a faculty mentor to the Periclean Scholars Class of 2010, a year when students focused their studies on Ghana. Under her guidance and in conjunction with partners in the African country, a new health center in Kpoeta, Ghana, was established and built.
Through written statements read aloud by colleagues during the dedication, Frontani's parents, Erika and Henry Glaesel, and her sister, Gaby Glaesel Mulligan, along with her husband, Michael, who is a member of the School of Communications faculty now on a leave of absence, and their son, Dante, talked about how she had worked to make the world a better place and loved to teach.
"She reflected the very best of Elon," her husband, Michael, wrote.
Colleagues stepped forward to offer their own remembrances of Frontani, noting how much she would have liked the location where the bench was placed, and how with its dedication, a part of her will remain with Elon always.