Elon faculty named to endowed professorships

Elon University leaders on Monday formally announced the names of four distinguished professors named to endowed professorships. Eric Fink, Roland Smith, Brant Touchette and Catherine McNeela were recognized during the opening ceremony for Planning Week 2010.

From left: Roland Smith, Brant Touchette, Catherine McNeela and Eric Fink.

Jennings Professor of Law

Eric Fink, an associate professor of law, was named the Jennings Professor of Law, a professorship committed to the law school’s mission of enhancing civic engagement and leadership in the legal profession, demonstrating innovation as a teacher and scholar, and working to address a legal or social challenge.

A gift from Maurice Jennings Sr. ’57 and his wife, Linda, and Maurice “Burney” Jennings Jr. ’87 and his wife, Dina ’87, establish the endowed professorship in 2008.

“What a pleasure it is to be a professor at Elon University, and especially of helping to create a new and innovative law school,” Fink said.

Skeens-Watson Visiting Professor of Leadership

Roland Smith at Elon University School of Law was named the first Skeens-Watson Visiting Professor of Leadership for the 2010-2011 school year.

Smith is a Senior Faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, leading the Center’s legal sector practice group. He is one of the lead designers and trainers for CCL and is the lead researcher relative to legal sector initiatives.

“I really appreciate being a part of this bigger family,” Smith said of being involved in the Elon community.

Japheth E. Rawls Professorship for Undergraduate Research in Science

Brant Touchette, an associate professor of biology and environmental studies, was named the Japheth E. Rawls Professorship for Undergraduate Research in Science.

The honor is rotating three-year professorship is for a faculty member in biology, chemistry or physics fields funded through a gift from the estate of Dr. Japheth E. Rawls Jr. ’35 and Virginia Riddick Rawls. It aims to support the efforts of science faculty to engage students in the scholarship of scientific discovery.

“I’m honored and humbled as I follow behind some of the previous Rawls chairs,” Touchette said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for turning young minds into generators of knowledge.”

William S. Long Professorship

Professor Catherine McNeela, a faculty member in the Department of Performing Arts and coordinator of Elon University’s music theatre program, was officially recognized as the new William S. Long Professor. As part of her professorship, McNeela will receive a $5,000 professional development fund along with a course release that will allow her to have additional time to mentor students in music theatre.

“I’m going to think of this as my Tony Award! So there are a couple of people I need to thank,” McNeela joked during her remarks to the audience. “Coming to Elon was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I get to do what I love most.”

Named for Elon’s first president, the William S. Long Professorship was first awarded in 1968 to Robert Blake, an English faculty member who held the position until his retirement from the full-time faculty in 2008.