Periclean Award For Civic Engagement & Social Responsibility

The Periclean Award is presented each year to a member of Elon’s faculty or staff whose service to the broader community exemplifies the ideals of Project Pericles. Elon is one of 30 colleges and universities nationwide to join Project Pericles, an initiative sponsored by the Eugene Lang Foundation, which challenges institutions to provide a learning experience that will “instill in students an abiding and active sense of social responsibility and civic concern.”

2023 Recipient: Jessica Merricks

With the mission of raising the level of civic engagement and social responsibility of the entire campus community, Project Pericles is a major force behind Elon’s reputation as a national model of engaged learning.

Few at the university best exemplify Project Pericles’ mission better than Assistant Professor of Biology Jessica Merricks as she has been a tireless advocate on the matter of public education about clean drinking water throughout central North Carolina.

Merricks’ service within the Elon community embodies the ideal of contributions that foster ‘the wholeness of our students’ educational experience’ as a founding member of the Advancing Equity Requirement (AER) advisory committee, as an innovator in the biology curriculum and as a core team member of an externally-funded initiative to develop a pipeline for high-achieving, high-financial need STEM majors from Alamance Community College to Elon.

“We believe that Dr. Merricks deeply embodies excellence in all the qualities that the Periclean Award seeks to recognize,” a group of colleagues wrote in support of Merricks.

As a resident of Pittsboro, North Carolina, Merricks discovered that her community’s drinking water was contaminated after an ambiguous letter from the City of Pittsboro was included with a water bill in 2019. Teaming with another Pittsboro resident, Merricks co-founded Clean Haw River, an advocacy group committed to educating the public about the risks of drinking contaminated water. Clean Haw River also seeks to “act as the liaison between the scientific community and water users; demand accountability from local, state and federal agencies; and advocate for local, state and federal drinking water policies and regulations.”

Merricks has been key in bringing the drinking water contamination story to Elon and engaging Elon students in this crucial and ongoing advocacy work.

With the numerous guest lecture appearances in various Elon courses, Merricks partnered with Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Kelsey Bitting to craft a six-lesson unit of interdisciplinary curricular materials to teach high-school and undergraduate students about PFAS chemicals (a group of chemicals used to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water) from a broad range of scientific and societal perspectives (e.g., environmental science, chemistry, medicine, economics, policy, social justice).

One student involved in the unit wrote that “interacting with Clean Haw River was really meaningful to me because it made me realize the power I could have to change things and it starts with small actions like talking to people about these issues and giving them a voice.”

Another student wrote about their experience, saying, “Creating the infographics for this project allowed me to better understand PFAS as contaminants in general, but also within Pittsboro. I was shocked when I found out that the Clean Haw River project was interested in uploading these infographics to their Facebook, for I never would have thought something I created would reach an audience beyond my classmates.”

Since arriving at Elon in 2018, Merricks has led the revision of the non-majors biology curriculum to create a more engaging, meaningful and inclusive course experience. She led the development of an integrated lab-lecture course that now serves as a model for the revision of the Introduction to Environmental Science lab-lecture sequence.

Merricks also plays a significant role in the $142,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support a pathway for students to transfer from the Early College Program at Alamance Community College to Elon to pursue bachelor’s degrees in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, environmental studies, mathematics or physics.

“I never intended to be an activist or an advocate,” Merricks said during her acceptance of the Periclean Award. “I realized that I don’t need to be an expert to speak up about problems when they exist. … You just have to stand.”

Merricks is the 21st recipient of the Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, which is given each year to a member of Elon’s faculty or staff whose community service exemplifies the ideals of Project Pericles.

Excerpt taken from Today at Elon. Read the full 2023 awards article.

2022 Recipient: Stephanie Baker

An associate professor of public health studies, Stephanie Baker has consistently demonstrated her commitment to antiracism organizing and community-based participatory research in her teaching, service and research since joining Elon in 2015.

“My mentors in this work couldn’t even put the words ‘race and racism’ in the papers they wrote, in the grants they wrote or in the classes they teach. So to be able to come a generation later and to be acknowledged for my work is really gratifying,” Baker said as she received the Periclean Award. “I’m indebted to my community partners who hold me accountable every single day … because they really make me better. I wouldn’t be able to do this work without them.”

Nominated for the Periclean Award by a group that includes current and former students, colleagues and community partners, Baker is lifted up as one who has prioritized relationship development with the broader Alamance County community, leading those relationships to be strengthened and solidified over time. “She is a catalyst for change in addressing and removing structural barriers to good health that often result in health inequities/disparities for BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) community members,” the nominators write. “This is the essence of civic engagement and social responsibility — strengthening relationships and showing up when you are called on.”

A current student who Baker has mentored during her time at Elon points to the role she played in encouraging her to think more critically about public health issues impacting the local community. “Dr. Baker is one of the most civically engaged people I have ever met,” the student writes. “She thinks critically about community issues and constantly considers her positionality and encourages her students to do the same. She has helped me to create solid community partnerships in a responsible way while employing aspects of Community Based Participatory Research. Dr. Baker has guided me to apply my coursework to real-world situations in the local community, and I’m grateful to have such an amazing mentor that helps me to stay grounded in real public health issues.”

Baker joined Elon after receiving her doctorate in health behavior from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She soon agreed to serve as a member of the Advisory Council to address racial inequities in infant mortality in Alamance County. That role and her advocacy led members of the community to organize the Alamance Racial Equity Alliance, which now hosts quarterly workshops and training sessions.

Baker also requires her research students to attend racial equity training. “She understands that it is a critically important step to help them conduct their research with a contextual understanding of the historical and policy factors that undergird racial health disparities,” the nominating group noted in their letter of support. “Students have been transformed by their engagement with the workshop and many find ways to enter local organizing efforts as a result.”

With Assistant Professor Yanica Faustin, Baker is the co-founder of the Health Equity and Racism Lab, or H.E.R. Lab. The initiative’s mission is to advance the body of knowledge that illustrates racism as the root cause to health inequities and cultivate action toward undoing racism and improving population health. Its three focal areas are research, capacity building and advocacy/action.

She is a board member for Healthy Alamance and was invited to be part of the group due to her expertise in racial equity analysis. She is currently on the executive leadership team of the board. Baker serves on the Alamance Recovery Loan Oversight Committee, a group created by the Alamance Chamber of Commerce as a way to increase access to small business loans for communities of color.

As COVID-19 vaccines began being distributed, Baker worked with the Alamance County Health Department to help address the underrepresentation of Black and brown communities at vaccine clinics. She convened a meeting of local community stakeholders and went to work creating partnerships and commitments of organizations to prioritize the important needs of communities of color.

“She is a tremendous voice for racial equity in this region,” her nominators write.

Baker is the 20th recipient of the Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, which is given each year to a member of Elon’s faculty or staff whose community service exemplifies the ideals of Project Pericles.

Excerpt taken from Today at Elon. Read the full 2022 awards article.

2021 Recipient: Mary Morrison

As assistant dean of campus life and director of the Kernodle Center for Civic Life, Mary Morrison is the embodiment of the mission of Project Pericles – to raise the level of civic engagement and social responsibility of the entire campus community.

Since joining Elon in 2006, Morrison has led the Kernodle Center to become a national model for service-learning and civic engagement. With Morrison’s guidance and vision, Elon became one the nation’s first universities to receive the Carnegie Classification for Civic Engagement and regularly appears on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“I can think of no university leader who has done more to elevate that work at Elon and in our broader local and regional community than Mary Morrison,” wrote one of Morrison’s nominators.

Morrison has been the visionary behind the Kernodle Center’s ongoing growth over the past 15 years. When Morrison arrived in 2006, the Kernodle Center was a small office with a handful of student leaders. Today, the center is home to anywhere from 80 to 125 student leaders who plan, implement and evaluate the center’s operations each year. And, among seniors in the Class of 2020, 88 percent said they participated in service as part of their Elon experience.

“She is deeply committed to students and their search for meaning and purpose through civic engagement and shares how transformative this work can be with faculty, staff and community partners so everyone is able to see their influence and impact,” wrote one administrator.

Elon now works with more than 80 community partners and offers more than 60 Academic Service-Learning classes. These efforts have earned the university national recognition, as the past two years, Elon has been ranked #2 in the nation for institutions with excellent service-learning programs by U.S. News & World Report.

Morrison’s 15th year at Elon will mark the end of a decorate, 43-year career in education, public service and volunteer management, as she prepares for retirement in May. As a champion of service-learning, Morrison has worked across the state to promote its power, and for that reason, nominators say it would be difficult to find someone more deserving of the Periclean Award.

“Mary has inspired countless students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to think more deeply about their role in civic life and to engage in public action to help create a more just society,” wrote a group of nominators. “We are deeply in debt to her, and she serves as a shining light during this unique time in our history when the fragility of democracy has been exposed as we work towards a more equitable future.”

Morrison is the 19th recipient of the Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, which is given each year to a member of Elon’s faculty or staff whose community service exemplifies the ideals of Project Pericles.

Excerpt taken from Today at Elon. Read the full article.

2020 recipient: Terry Tomasek

Terry Tomasek has demonstrated her devotion to her students and the community at large through her tireless work both near and far.

A member of the Elon faculty since 2006, Tomasek was the inaugural faculty-in-residence for the Elon School of Education Center at the University of Otago in New Zealand and also serves as the faculty in residence for the Colonnades Residential Neighborhood.

“Dr. Tomasek’s legacy is one of tireless and selfless devotion to servant leadership,” her nominator said in support of her receiving the Periclean Award. “She has inspired and mentored countless undergraduate students and yet her influence goes far beyond the ‘Elon Bubble’ to positively impact the local and global community.

As a teacher, she has practiced engaging and selfless mentoring. One former student recounts how Tomasek gave him “the comfort and confidence to pursue the career I had always wanted” while providing a model for how to be an effective teacher in the classroom. “Throughout my student teaching journey, she challenged me to go above and beyond my own expectations because she saw my capabilities and gave me every opportunity to reach them,” the former student wrote in support of the nomination. “I am indebted to Dr. Tomasek’s caring and nurturing approach as an advisor for leading me and so many others toward our calling as educators.”

Tomasek moved from teaching in Elon Academy, the university’s flagship college access and success program for Alamance County students, to being named its second director, a role her peers say she has filled with determination and grace. “Her leadership has strengthened the program in many ways, visible and invisible, deepened partnerships within Elon and the local community, and inspired hundreds of young people to pursue their college dreams,” according to her nomination.

She has led “Science in the Village” for Elon’s “It Takes a Village” Project and is engaged at local schools weekly as she supports student teachers as they learn how to teach science.

Tomasek helped establish the longstanding “Warm Heart of Malawi” course that brings together Elon University students and primary school students attending Namasimba School in Blantyre, Malawi. Through this partnership, hundreds of school children have increased their English language learning and have been provided access to essential learning materials such as books and learning games.

“She has served as a model of global engagement and appropriate approaches to service for both students and colleagues,” her nominator wrote.

Excerpt taken from Today at Elon. Read the full article.

2019 recipient: Jan Fuller

The Rev. Jan Fuller has been the embodiment of civic engagement and social responsibility in her role at university chaplain through which she has demonstrated her commitment to creating an inclusive community that embraces all faiths.

​Fuller came to Elon in 2011 after 24 years as chaplain at her alma mater, Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. Prior to her work at Hollins, Fuller served as the Baptist chaplain at Yale University from 1982 to 1987, and as an adjunct professor of higher education ministries at the Yale Divinity School from 1983 to 1987. She is a long-standing member of the National Association of College and University Chaplains, and currently serves as the organization’s president.

At Elon, she’s credited with taking a leading role in launching and developing the university’s multifaith program. The creation of a fully multifaith approach to religious and spiritual life on campus was challenging, one nominator notes, but “Jan has done this exceptionally well, helping us all appreciate that religious diversity and multifaith engagement are essential to our university’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and global citizenship.”

Excerpt taken from E-Net! Read the full article.

2018 recipient: Sylvia Muñoz

Sylvia Muñoz has served as a prime example of civic engagement and social responsibility at Elon and beyond as director of El Centro and associate director of the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education.

As an instructor, she has taught multiple Spanish conversation classes at El Centro as well as several sections of Elon 101, using both as opportunities to impress upon students how important it is to be an active participant in the local community. Muñoz has worked with the master of education degree program on international experiences in Costa Rica in a way that one colleague said helped the students understand “the critical role of culture and language in teaching” and the importance of having “global skills in cultural awareness and competence beyond the classroom.

A leader in the CREDE, Muñoz was the driving force behind the creation of the Latinx/Hispanic Employee Resource Group and the Elon Latinx-Hispanic Alumni Network, and has co-led the work of the Hispanic/Latinx Working Group. She’s established a connection between The Village Project, which works with students in Alamance Burlington School System, and El Centro, has supported the Latinx-Hispanic Union student organization and has served on the president’s Diversity Council.

Excerpt taken from E-Net! Read the full article.

2017 recipient: Bob Frigo

Through his work at Elon and the broader region, Bob Frigo has been focused on community, whether it be rallying his neighbors to voice concerns about the impact a new development could have on their community or working with an organization that focuses on ensuring that parents are engaged with their children.

At Elon, he showed leadership during last year’s election season as he worked to encourage students, faculty and staff to register to vote and worked to encourage civic, and civil, discussions about the decisions citizens make at the ballot box.

Frigo served as co-convener of the Political Engagement Work Group, which proved to be a major force in encouraging students to become involved in last year’s election. He had a hand in efforts including debate watch events, Elon Votes, TurboVote and working to answer questions that students had about voter registration. Those efforts helped Elon post the seventh-highest voter registration rate among students nationally.

Excerpt taken from E-Net! Read the full article.

2016 recipient: Elizabeth Bailey

To the friends, colleagues and students she mentors, it is clear that the storyline in Elizabeth Bailey’s life is to start every morning committed to making a positive contribution.

Her life’s work epitomizes the Periclean paradigm of humble, selfless service to others and establishes a model of personal civic engagement and social responsibility that acts as a benchmark to those in her community.

In 2006 Bailey received a grant for Girls In Motion, a program focused on mentoring young girls and healthy lifestyle choices. When research findings provided evidence that the program had positive results, Bailey developed Alamance-Girls in Motion. The eight-week program matches college women, one-on-one, with young girls ages 9-11 in a mentoring relationship for health education and skill building in sports and fitness with the purpose of increasing self-esteem and set the stage for future healthy lifestyles.

Soon after word got out about the success of the program, Elon students approached Bailey about starting a similar program for girls in middle school. Through this collaborative effort, Girls to Empowered Teens was successfully launched.

Excerpt taken from E-Net! Read the full article.

2015 recipient: Heather Scavone

Prior to joining Elon, Scavone directed the statewide Immigration Legal Services program of Lutheran Family Services (LSF) in the Carolinas, which provided representation to hundreds of refugees and those seeking political asylum. When LSF announced plans to eliminate programs in the Triad, Scavone approached the university about adding the clinic to meet an overwhelming community need and to further the professional development of Elon Law students.

Since the clinic opened in 2010, more than 1,600 refugees and asylum seekers have been served under Scavone’s leadership, and it is one of North Carolina’s most prolific nonprofit immigration legal services providers.

“Through the inception of the of the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic, Elon was able to successfully dovetail the mutual goals of legal skills development and community service into a clinical program that simultaneously broadens the global perspective of law students, increases their post-graduation employment prospects, and serves the community,” a colleague says.

Scavone says that Elon students who serve in the clinic benefit from “a perspective shift that is informed by their clients’ suffering.” Through the work at the clinic, students learn empathy towards others, and the experience creates in many of them desire to practice public interest law.

Excerpt taken from E-Net! Read the full article.

2014 recipient: Alexa Darby

Many members of Elon University’s faculty and staff donate their time and talent to serve the larger community. In so doing, they become role models for our students. We are indebted to those who unselfishly, and very often without recognition, contribute so much to their community and to the wholeness of our students’ educational experience. The Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility is presented each year to a member of Elon’s faculty or staff whose service to the broader community exemplifies the Periclean ideals.

When it comes to service-learning and civic engagement, Alexa Darby is hailed by colleagues as a role model.
“Even at an institution known for its civic engagement, Alexa’s dedication to community collaboration stands out as exemplary,” a colleague at Elon says.

The associate professor of psychology has taught more than 30 sections of academic service-learning courses since joining Elon’s faculty in 2005. In that time, she also has established a very meaningful partnership with the Alamance-Burlington School System. Based on nomination letters from multiple faculty members, Darby’s volunteer work and tireless commitment to elementary schools in low-income neighborhoods make her an ideal candidate for the 2014 Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility.

Excerpt taken from E-Net! Read the full article.

2013 recipient: Jean Rattigan-Rohr

Many members of Elon University’s faculty and staff donate their time and talent to serve the larger community. In so doing, they become role models for our students. We are indebted to those who unselfishly, and very often without recognition, contribute so much to their community and to the wholeness of our students’ educational experience. The Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility is presented each year to a member of Elon’s faculty or staff whose service to the broader community exemplifies the Periclean ideals.

Jean Rattigan-Rohr makes it her mission to prepare teacher candidates so they leave no child behind.Rattigan-Rohr, an associate professor of education, demonstrates that desire through her instruction in the classroom and in the “It Takes a Village” project, a tutoring program that assists struggling young readers in the local community through the involvement of their parents and Elon students that she founded in 2008.

Rattigan-Rohr is described by a colleague as a “woman who unselfishly, and very often without recognition, contributes so much to her community and to the wholeness of our students’ educational experience.”

Excerpt taken from E-Net! Read the full article.

2012 recipient: Deborah Long

Many members of Elon University’s faculty and staff donate their time and talent to serve the larger community. In so doing, they become role models for our students. We are indebted to those who unselfishly, and very often without recognition, contribute so much to their community and to the wholeness of our students’ educational experience. The Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility is presented each year to a member of Elon’s faculty or staff whose service to the broader community exemplifies the Periclean ideals.

Long’s work with the Elon Academy, a college access and success program for high school students with a financial need and/or no family history of college, has had life-changing effects on the lives of the students who take part in the program.“Dr. Long played an instrumental part in my journey to college, and now that I am a sophomore at Elon I know that she is always ready to help in any way that she can,” a scholar of the Alpha Class says. “I could not ask for a better role model than Dr. Long.”

Long has a long history of working with at-risk students. After graduating from Colby College in 1970 with a degree in psychology she joined the Teacher Corps from 1971 to 1973. She earned a master’s degree in elementary education from Virginia State University in 1973 and worked as an elementary school teacher in the Durham City School System from 1973 to 1976. She obtained a doctorate in curriculum, instruction and educational leadership from the University of Memphis in 1996. That same year, she joined Elon’s faculty.

Excerpt taken from E-Net! Read the full article.

2011 recipient: Stephen Bailey

Many members of Elon University’s faculty and staff donate their time and talent to serve the larger community. In so doing, they become role models for our students. We are indebted to those who unselfishly, and very often without recognition, contribute so much to their community and to the wholeness of our students’ educational experience. The Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility is presented each year to a member of Elon’s faculty or staff whose service to the broader community exemplifies the Periclean ideals.

“As his colleague in the department of physical therapy education, I’ve witnessed his strong commitment to engaging with the community and developing each student’s sense of social responsibility in the everyday conversations he has with faculty and students,” a fellow professor says. “I believe he provides a valuable example of engagement in the community and he effectively models and promotes social responsibility in those with whom he interacts.”

For the past three years, Bailey has volunteered to coach the Elon club lacrosse team. He also volunteered to coach the county’s first high school team at Western High School for three years and was instrumental in getting a recreation league started for elementary and middle school students. Described as “a conscientious coach who uses motivation and encouragement to help players achieve their potential on the field,” Bailey currently volunteers as the coach of the Williams High School lacrosse team.

Earlier in the year, he organized “Face Off for Autism,” a fundraiser for the N.C. Autism Society that raised awareness about the disorder and more than $4,000 for the organization. Bailey also participates regularly in Special Olympics events as a certified aquatics coach and even got members of the Elon club swim team involved as well. He is also very active with Peacehaven Community Farm, a nonprofit, volunteer-based sustainable farm in nearby Whitsett, N.C., that will provide housing for adults with disabilities.

“Steve (Bailey) humbly leads by example and his many involvements have allowed that example to be widely experienced, not only by students on campus but also by individuals in the larger community as well,” a colleague says. “The result is an understanding of the difference one person can make in society if one so chooses.”

Excerpts taken from E-net. Read the full article.

2010 recipient: Keith Dimont

Many members of Elon University’s faculty and staff donate their time and talent to serve the larger community. In so doing, they become role models for our students. We are indebted to those who unselfishly, and very often without recognition, contribute so much to their community and to the wholeness of our students’ educational experience. The Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility is presented each year to a member of Elon’s faculty or staff whose service to the broader community exemplifies the Periclean ideals.

This year’s recipient devotes an enormous amount of time volunteering far and wide. Through his church he works with those who are not able to get out – he mows their yards, and provides them with transportation. He cooks for various church events – and then transports remaining food to the homeless shelter.

One nominator writes that he goes “above and beyond if he can for anyone. I have worked with him on a local production – he builds the props, which can take several weeks, and makes sure everything is going according to schedule.” He also built basketball goals for a summer camp at Western High School.

Another nominator continues, “I have worked with him when he has been cooking pork shoulders for the high school all night long and talking away. He enjoys people and he has a heart of gold.”

He participated in two separate trips to Bay St. Louis in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He drove the buses, he cooked (I’m detecting a love of cooking theme here!), helped with clean-up, and repaired defunct equipment – often with no visible means for doing so. Spare parts? Didn’t seem to always be available. Tools? Well, he made do with what he had to work with. And when the weather turned nasty, he helped to build a shelter for other volunteers to work under.

Nominators say that:
“He is a very kind and giving individual.”
“He looks out for his fellow man.”
“He is a yes person – what I consider a depth and breadth man.”
“He doesn’t help people, and causes, to attract attention to himself. He does it because he sees the need.”

Please join me in congratulating this year’s recipient of the Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility – Keith Dimont.

2009 recipient: April Post

Many members of Elon University’s faculty and staff donate their time and talent to serve the larger community. In so doing, they become role models for our students. We are indebted to those who unselfishly, and very often without recognition, contribute so much to their community and to the wholeness of our students’ educational experience.

This year’s recipient has been extensively engaged in the community through both the local school system and her church. Her pastor says that “she is one of the key leaders in our church.” She communicates regularly with missionaries in Cambodia, making sure that the financial aid reaches them. She also maintains the metrics for their Reach ministry, tracking the hours that members of the congregation serve outside of the church.

She initiated an international outreach ministry, and her enthusiasm, incredibly catching, generated significant support from other members of the congregation. She has raised funds to support service trips to both Mexico and Guatemala, and also led service trips to both countries. Her remarkable language skills and her ability to connect with other cultures have ensured the success of these service trips on many levels, that include not only accomplishing good for people in other countries but also helping her fellow church members to make connections with people in other cultures that otherwise would not have been possible.

She is also very active in the public school system, creating a partnership between Elon students and local schools that have a significant population of English Language learners, including Cummings High School, and Turrentine and Broadview Middle Schools. The Amigos Club partners Elon students with local Latino students. As one teacher stated, “This program helps Spanish students learn through interaction with native Spanish speakers, helps local students still striving to master the English language, and benefits the community through service projects completed by the Amigos at the local schools. It is the perfect coupling of interactive learning and community service.”

She and an Elon Professor of Education received several grants to support a project partnering students studying Spanish with those seeking licensure in education and Latino families. Their purpose was to “seek answers to central questions related to the real-world challenge of increasing diversity in schools and communities.” What is the quality of education for English Language learners? What is the involvement of their families with the local educational system and school culture?

This year alone, 7 Elon students are part of the program with students at Broadview. They speak via webcam twice each week, and the Broadview students have visited Elon and attended a baseball game. As a group they have also visited the Conservator’s Center, and just recently had a year-end celebration picnic with their families. In previous semesters, approximately 24 Elon students each semester provided over 400 hours of service to the local community through this professor’s courses.

One of her students wrote of her mentoring experience: “Meeting Carlos has been amazing for me; really a blessing. He is such a great kid, despite such hard obstacles. Two days ago, Carlos called me. So I called him back, thinking something was wrong. He said that he just wanted to let me know that he had gotten his grades from his tests that week: 89, 93, and 100. The fact that he had such great news and wanted to share it with me was amazing.”

Amazing is certainly an excellent descriptive for this year’s recipient of the Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility.

2008 recipient: Brian Digre

The Periclean Award for Service, as many of you know, was initiated six years ago as part of Elon’s Project Pericles initiative. This award is intended for either a staff or faculty member who demonstrates the values of Project Pericles –a commitment to civic engagement exhibited by their actions. At this time I would like to ask the previous recipients of this award to stand and be recognized.

This year’s recipient is joining some mighty fine company!

We all know how important the Elon Experiences are to an Elon education. The foundation of our work with students is involvement. They want to get their hands on the equipment, work in the lab, engage with community agencies – wherever in the world those communities are.

This year’s recipient certainly fits with this model of engagement. Over the past dozen years, this person has become deeply engaged with a community half way around the world. Building on experience gained long before coming to Elon, while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, this individual has identified a region’s needs, taught our students about this region, and has encouraged them to invest themselves in deep and meaningful cultural exchanges.

Over the years our awardee and Elon students have raised and donated funds for school development that have resulted in, today, a four-room school building which serves nearly 100 local students. He wrote and secured a grant from Heifer International, along with regional community leaders, to obtain honey bees and to train local people in how to raise them and successfully market the products. And, while the families are waiting for the honey bee colonies to mature and produce, they will receive chickens for immediate income. He has also raised funds for the development of youth recreation programs, and Elon students have donated soccer balls, cash, and uniforms.

One donation project of which many of us are aware is books for the local university library. Picture this – two faculty leaders and 30 Elon students at the check-in counter at JFK airport every January nervously awaiting the weigh-in process for their baggage, knowing that they all have 5-10 books in their suitcases.

2007 recipient: Jim Pickens

The recipient of the Periclean Award for Service this year is a long-time member of the Elon Community. He has not only served as an example to all of us what it means to be a servant to the community but he has been an effective agent of change. One nominator writes that “he embodies Elon’s core values – personal engagement with students, seeing the global context of our life and work, and service to large communities.”

Another nominator says that “In the tradition of Liberation Theology, he is committed to helping others enter into dialogue with each other, learn to see how things could be different, and become agents of that change.”

His impact has been broad and deep. He has coached soccer, worked with the Boy Scouts, and been active in his church. He has served as a mediator and trainer at the Alamance County Dispute Settlement Center. “From the moment we met,” writes one person, “I was impressed with how much he gave of himself to the larger community. In fact, it was his example that led me to become a regular volunteer at the Allied Churches of Alamance County Emergency Shelter for the Homeless.”

He served as secretary on the Board of Directors for North Carolina Peace Action, and as a member of the NC Peace Action Education Fund. He served as a delegate to Nicaragua and Guatemala on the Witness for Peace Trip in 1991. Upon his return, he began his lengthy relationship with El Centro, has become fluent in Spanish and continues his advocacy for Central America. He has taught English as a second language.

“From a working class background,” writes a colleague, “he is fully aware of the role that education can play in helping others to reflect on their own role in society.” . . . “His strategy is a gentle one. He doesn’t use scorn or forceful rhetoric to make people feel guilty or embarrassed about their own privileged backgrounds.” He uses stories and music to awaken students’ awareness. “He teachers from a perspective of universal respect and empowerment. Everyone has the right to be heard, be treated fairly, be respected, and live life to the best of their abilities. He asks students to think not only about empowering others, but ways in which they can work to empower themselves.”

“He plays folk songs written to support striking coal miners in West Virginia and low paid coffee bean pickers in Nicaragua, and asks students to bring in examples of musical expressions of social issues in their own CD collections.”

For five years he journeyed with students to Guatemala during Winter Term to work with Habitat for Humanity. He made sure that this experience challenged students to see the full context of Guatemala’s Civil War so that they could better understand the circumstances of the Mayan families for whom they were building. And it will surprise no one that in the evening, when energy and spirits sagged, he launched into an old union song that begins, “Step by step, the longest march can be won.”

He coordinated the NEH grant for Peace and Justice Studies that has evolved intoElon’s minor in Non-Violence Studies and is the spiritual father of Elon Students for Peace and Justice.

His hunger for justice, desire for peace, and witness to a better way to be human beings has touched us all.

2006 recipient: Richard McBride

McBride has consistently reached out to the campus and local community since coming to Elon in 1984. He was instrumental in establishing Elon’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and has served as its adviser since 1988. He has encouraged students to take responsibility for raising $30,000 annually to fund new Habitat houses in the local community. He began a Winter Term course that takes students to Guatemala to work with Habitat projects there, and he has accompanied the Elon softball team on a Habitat work trip to Florida. McBride also created Elon Volunteers!, which has become the Kernodle Center for Civic Life.

A colleague says McBride’s concern for others is genuine.

“It is a joy to watch him care for people in a way that is never charity. He works ‘with’ people and not ‘for’ them or ‘to’ them. It is clear that his belief in service is not just a role in an organization, it is a personal passion.”

McBride has launched numerous campus programs that benefit students. He was active in the establishment of Senior Showcase, which highlights the talents of graduating students, and Hometown Heroes, a program that allows freshmen to recognize someone who made a difference in their lives or in the community. McBride also launched another Elon tradition, the Turning 21 Dinner, giving students the chance to honor an important mentor in their lives as they reach age 21. In 2004, McBride wrote a book, titled “Inventing A Life, The Journey Through College And Beyond,” about the changes students experience during college.

McBride has also served the local community through his work with the Alamance County Community Services Agency (ACCSA), where he serves as board chairman. He was responsible for the recent search for a new ACCSA director.

“His commitment to his work is incredible,” writes a colleague. “It would be hard to quantify the hours that he gives to projects like Habitat for Humanity, the local counseling organization, a student in need, a person who needs a hand up. When he is needed, he is there.”

2005 recipient: George Troxler

For more than 50 years, George Troxler has been actively involved with the Boy Scouts of America. He has been Cub Master of the local Pack 51 since 1975, and became the troop’s assistant scoutmaster and district commissioner in 1982. At the Boy Scouts district level, he has held several leadership positions on the Council Executive Board, including vice president of Cub Scouting. He received the prestigious Silver Beaver Award in 1984, which recognizes distinguished service to young people within a Boy Scout local council. He has also received the District Award of Merit for his extraordinary service beyond the local level.

Troxler has been a member of the Boy Scouts’ National Camping School Staff for more than 25 years and has been a member of the National Jamboree Staff five times. He is aquatics director at the National Jamboree, which hosts thousands of Boy Scouts from across the country every four years.

As a historian, Troxler has made similar contributions to Alamance County and North Carolina. He served on the organizational board of directors that created the Alamance County Historical Museum and has been an officer of the county historical association since 1971.

Troxler has been an Elon staff member since 1969, when he joined the history department. As dean of cultural and special programs, Troxler coordinates the university’s busy schedule of concerts, plays, speakers and convocations. He has served as chief graduation marshal for more than a decade.

He and his wife, Carole, are also active members of Elon Community Church, where he has served as church moderator and deacon.

2004 recipient: Rex Waters

Rex Waters actively seeks opportunities to combine his work at Elon with service in the local community. Last year, aided by a grant from Project Pericles, Waters organized a summer institute for students at Turrentine Middle School in Burlington. Under his leadership, a group of Elon students worked with 13 Turrentine students, stressing the importance of character, integrity and community service.

Active for many years in the Boy Scouts, Waters is assistant scoutmaster for a troop of more than 40 scouts. He was chosen by district scout leaders to train and lead a group of young men to a scout reservation in 2003.

For more than 10 years, Waters has served as a youth basketball and soccer coach in local recreation and church leagues, demonstrating the values of teamwork and commitment to children. He and his wife, Cynthia, are co-presidents of the Williams High School PTA. They are also active members of Front Street United Methodist Church in Burlington.

Waters fulfills several leadership roles on campus. He mentors students through his involvement in new student orientation, the Student Communications Media Board, Omicron Delta Kappa and Kappa Sigma fraternity.

2003 recipient: Barbara Taylor

Since 1980, Barbara Taylor, associate professor, computing sciences has worked closely with CrossRoads Sexual Assault Response and Resource Center in Alamance County. She has committed herself to CrossRoads’ mission of supporting people affected by sexual assault, serving on its board of directors, accompanying victims to court or the hospital and working as a fundraiser. She has helped plan and participated in numerous events, including the Human Race for CrossRoads, Take Back the Night and Make a Sundae, Make a Difference.

She has utilized her professional skills to help create a web site for CrossRoads, design a membership database and, with the help of an Elon student, translate the Web site into Spanish to reach the area’s growing Hispanic population.

Her commitment to Elon students has been demonstrated in countless ways. She served as faculty advisor to the student group One in Three from 1993-1997, and assisted with planning and implementing the first Take Back the Night event in 1993. She has also worked as a co-facilitator, helping organize a support group for victims in 1992 that was aided by the involvement of many Elon students.

A colleague who serves on the CrossRoads board of directors says the organization and its members “are consistently motivated and energized by Barbara’s selfless spirit, leadership, and dedication to the cause of preventing sexual abuse and serving victims.”