Elon President Leo M. Lambert bestowed the university’s highest honor Monday upon four of its most distinguished retired employees for their meritorious service to the school.
Retired professor and Dean of Martha and Spencer Love School of Business John Burbridge Jr.; Betty Covington, retired office coordinator for the Office of Academic Advising; retired Professor of Education Glenda Crawford; and retired Distinguished University Professor Russell Gill received Elon Medallions on Aug. 17, 2015, in an annual ceremony celebrating the highest honor the university bestows on individuals for their meritorious service to the institution.
Elon University President Leo M. Lambert awards the honor each year at the start of Planning Week, which marks the beginning of the academic year.
John Joseph Burbridge Jr.
With intelligence, persistence and a remarkable ability to bring people together, John Joseph Burbridge Jr. served Elon University for 18 years. He helped propel the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business to a top-50 national ranking and prepared undergraduate and graduate students for success.
Upon joining the Elon community in 1996, Burbridge served for 11 years as dean of the Love School of Business before stepping down in 2007 to return to full-time teaching as professor of operations and supply chain management. He retired in 2014 as Professor Emeritus of Business Administration.
As dean, Burbridge built an exceptional record of accomplishment, including the Legends of Business speaker series; case study competitions; the Elon Enterprise Academy, the forerunner to the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership; and a nationally recognized Master of Business Administration program.
A respected and active scholar with an unwavering commitment to the liberal arts, Burbridge worked tirelessly to help Love School of Business faculty secure funding to support their scholarship and present at national and international conferences.
These accomplishments, along with Burbridge’s strong and steady leadership and collegial spirit, were critical to achieving two milestones in the history of the Love School of Business: accreditation by AACSB International, the hallmark of quality in business education, in 2004, and the opening of the Ernest A. Koury, Sr. Business Center as the new home of the school in 2006.
Burbridge is dedicated to his family, including his wife, Mary; children, Barney, John III, Kasey, Jane and Susan, who is a 2000 Elon graduate; and six grandchildren.
Betty Mebane Covington
During her 32 years of service, Betty Mebane Covington left an indelible mark on the university community through her work in the Office of Academic Advising, where she played an integral role in the personal and intellectual development of Elon students.
Covington joined the Elon community in 1982 and served for the majority of her career as office coordinator for Academic Advising, employing her superb customer service and organizational skills to keep a vital part of the university running smoothly.
Covington’s deep institutional knowledge, her willingness to embrace change and her close relationships with faculty and staff across campus all were essential to the evolution of Academic Advising and the Elon 101 program. Covington’s thoughtful approach to her work also played a huge role in the success of disability and tutoring services on campus.
Known as the heart and soul of her office, Covington developed strong, enduring relationships with students, making sure they consulted their advisers and kept up with their studies. She was particularly concerned for first-year students who flourished under her care.
A dedicated mentor to African-American students, Covington served for 15 years as adviser to Elon’s Gospel Choir, traveling with the group when it performed on the East Coast and in Jamaica. She also was adviser for two years to Zeta Phi Beta sorority.
In recognition of her many contributions to Elon, including four years of service on the Staff Advisory Council, Covington was named the university’s Office Staff Member of the Year in 1998 and was honored by the Elon Black Alumni Network in 2010 for contributing to the success of African-American students.
Many of Covington’s family members are Elon alumni and are all important to her, including her son, Terry Covington ’94, and his wife, Shonda; her grandson, A.J.; great-grandson, Aiden; godsons Mark Covington ’90 and Maurice Whitfield ’07; goddaughters Tonya Stanley ’94 and Sonya Stanley ’94; and niece, Rene Sellars, an Elon staff member.
Glenda Ward Crawford
For 25 years, Glenda Ward Crawford mentored and prepared hundreds of outstanding students for the honorable work of teaching, while advancing the study of the cognitive, social and personal development of adolescent learners.
Following her career as an educator in Alamance-Burlington schools, Crawford joined the Elon faculty in 1989 and served in many leadership roles, including chair of the Department of Education, coordinator of middle grades education, director of the Master of Education and the Teaching Fellows programs and Professor of Education. She retired in 2014 as Professor Emerita of Education.
A master teacher committed to active, knowledge-based learning, Crawford modeled excellence for her students by building lasting partnerships with local and regional school systems and creating initiatives such as The Amigos Club, a literacy program that pairs Elon education students with young men and women in the community. Crawford embraced global engagement by serving as a visiting professor at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, and the Elon Study Center in London; as a guest lecturer at Tbilisi State University in the Republic of Georgia; and a seminar leader in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
A prominent scholar of adolescent learning and development, Crawford wrote five books on the subject and presented her work at more than 50 professional conferences, receiving numerous honors, including Elon’s Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Distinguished Service Award from the North Carolina Association for the Gifted and Talented. She also was named North Carolina Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Crawford ably served the university and her colleagues as chair of the Curriculum Committee and the Promotions and Tenure Committee and as a member of Academic Council, the Faculty Research and Development Committee and the Phi Beta Kappa Steering Committee.
Crawford’s family includes her son, Michael Beamon, and his wife, Dodi; son, Brent Beamon; and granddaughters, Piper and Quinn.
Russell Benjamin Gill
For nearly four decades, Russell Benjamin Gill served Elon in many important leadership roles, including Professor of English, Maude Sharpe Powell Professor and Distinguished University Professor.
After joining the faculty in 1976, Gill served as chair of the Department of Literature, Languages, and Communications, predecessor to the English department and School of Communications; director of General Studies, now known as the Elon Core Curriculum; Dean of Arts and Humanities; and faculty fellow for the living-learning community initiative.
Famously diplomatic and possessing a profound and enduring commitment to academic excellence and the well-being of others, Gill was an agent for change at Elon, advocating for better faculty compensation in the 1980s and spearheading revisions to the General Studies curriculum in the 1990s as part of Elon’s change to the four-credit-hour system.
Gill’s unwavering dedication to intellectual inquiry made him the ideal choice to chair Elon’s Phi Beta Kappa Steering Committee and successfully lead the university’s quest to shelter a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, achieved in 2010, and to serve as the first president of Elon’s Eta chapter.
A respected and accomplished scholar and teacher, Gill instilled a love of learning in thousands of students, whether he was teaching basic composition or 17th and 18th century British and European literature, in recognition of which he was chosen to receive the Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Gill is devoted to his family, including his wife, Diane; children, Hannah, Benjamin, Nathan, Joseph and John; and his three grandchildren.