Sullivan named Distinguished University Professor

John Sullivan was recognized as Elon's first Distinguished University Professor by President Leo M. Lambert on Monday, Aug. 19. Details...

Sullivan, the Maude Sharpe Powell Professor of Philosophy, received the honor for his meritorious service to the university. The Distinguished University Professorship will be bestowed, on occasion, to full professors who have made distinguished contributions to teaching, scholarship and the Elon University community. The board of trustees created the honor last year, and a committee comprised of faculty members solicited nominations and recommendations for the award.

In making the announcement, Lambert said Sullivan “might be described as beloved, wise, inspirational, and truly one of the chief cornerstones of our distinguished faculty.”

A member of the faculty since 1970, Sullivan has earned a reputation as one of Elon’s most respected teachers and scholars. He has received the university’s highest award for teaching, the Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching, and was chosen to speak at a campus gathering of students, faculty and staff a day after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Over the last three years, he served as chair of Elon’s Carnegie Committee on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

His professional activities extend well beyond Elon. Sullivan is co-founder of the School of Philosophy and Healing in Action (SOPHIA), a program at the Traditional Acupuncture Institute in Columbia, Md. The program, started in 1987, teaches healing principles based on ancient Chinese beliefs.

Sullivan had served as Elon’s backup graduation speaker for more than 20 years before finally getting the chance to deliver his speech at Elon’s 112th Commencement exercises May 25. Over the years, he prepared and revised his speeches in case he was called upon to give the address in the event of an emergency. His opportunity to give this year’s speech, which came when NASA astronaut Mae Jemison cancelled due to a family illness, was the subject of a Wall Street Journal story and network news stories on CNN and NBC.