Seven faculty members named Leadership Scholars

Seven professors and instructors from across campus have been selected 2015-16 Leadership Faculty Scholars. 

The 2015-16 scholars include: Jason Aryeh, Dance; Lucinda Austin and Denise Hill, Communications; Mark Dalhouse, Study USA; Heidi Frontani, History and Geography; Erika Lopina, Psychology; and Srikant Vallabhajosula, Physical Therapy Education.

Leadership scholars gather as a cohort for workshops and seminars designed to focus on issues related to leadership pedagogy. They identify a course or project in which to integrate leadership components while several scholars also develop research projects that explore leadership in his or her discipline.

Scholars also receive a stipend after completing the program. More than 20 Elon faculty members from a variety of disciplines have participated in the Leadership Scholars Program since 2012.

About this year’s scholars: 

Jason Aryeh is an assistant professor of dance and holds a BFA in dance and African studies from the University of Ghana and an MFA in dance choreography and performance from the State University of New York at Brockport. Aryeh developed and leads a Study Abroad program to Ghana in performance. He founded and is currently the artistic director for several productions, including Africa Alive Dance Company aimed at youth talent and Black History Month Performance Production, a performance concert at Elon which celebrates history and humanity. Aryeh has choreographed more than 20 works for professional dance companies in the United States and West Africa. His awards include the prestigious Faculty Assistant Award at the American Dance Festival and Best Innovative Choreographer Award from the Ghana Arts Council.

Lucinda Austin is an assistant professor in the School of Communications. Her research focuses on social media’s influence on strategic communication initiatives, namely health and crisis communication, and explores publics’ perspectives in organization-public relationship building. Her professional experience includes work for the Center of Risk Communication Research at the University of Maryland and for ICF International, a firm offering communication and health marketing support to federal government and nonprofit organizations. Austin has published in journals including Communication Research, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Journal of Health Communication, Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Review, and Public Relations Journal. Austin has been a recipient of AEJMC Promising Professors Award, AEJMC Public Relations Division’s SuPRstar Award, the Arthur W. Page Center’s Legacy Educator and Legacy Scholar Awards, and NCA’s PRIDE Award.

Mark Dalhouse is director of Study USA and an assistant professor. He earned his doctorate in 20th century U.S. political history from Miami of Ohio University and his dissertation on religion and Southern culture and politics was published by the University of Georgia Press in 1996. He has served as assistant professor in the residential colleges at Truman State University, as dean of First Year Students at Washington and Lee University and as assistant dean of the Office of Active Citizenship and Service at Vanderbilt University. Dalhouse created the Vanderbilt Internship Experience in Washington program and also organized a reunion of Nashville Sit-In veterans on a bus ride from Nashville to Montgomery in 2007, including Diane Nash, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Bernard Lafayette and C.T. Vivian. While at Vanderbilt, he worked with Nashville Tennessean editor and former assistant to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, John Seigenthaler, to organize a 40th anniversary retrospective on Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign at the Newseum in Washington in 2008.

Heidi Frontani is a professor of geography, a Senior Faculty Research Fellow, and co-chair of the Implementation and Assessment Team for the Presidential Task Force on the Black Student, Faculty and Staff Experiences. Her past leadership positions include serving as interim coordinator of the African and African-American Studies Program, chair of the Department of History and Geography, faculty mentor for the Ghana Class of Periclean Scholars, coordinator of the Geography Program, and faculty advisor for Visions Magazine and Gamma Theta Upsilon, the Geography Honor Society. She has taught in China, Ghana and the United Kingdom, and she is currently writing two books: one on the Rockefeller Foundation’s and Wellcome Trust’s Health Sector Aid to Africa through WWII, and the other on Outstanding African Leaders.

Denise Hill is an instructor in the School of Communications, teaching in the strategic communications program. She serves as a faculty mentor in the university’s LEAD program and was named a significant faculty mentor by two Phi Kappa Phi students. Denise has more than 30 years of corporate communications and public relations agency experience, including leadership roles as vice president of communications at Delhaize America, Quest Diagnostics, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Cigna. In addition, she served as senior vice president of communications for a business unit of Wyndham Worldwide. Hill has presented research at national conferences and also spent four years as an adjunct instructor of corporate communications and public relations at New York University. She is an an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America.

Erika C. Lopina is an assistant professor of psychology and holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology from Wake Forest University, and a doctorate in organizational science from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Lopina teaches in the areas of psychology of leadership, industrial-organizational psychology and non-experimental research methods. She served as an executive coach, mentor and co-facilitator for Elon Law School’s leadership program. Her research involving volunteer management, dirty work and the aging workforce has appeared in works such as Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Human Relations, and the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology Frontiers book series.

Srikant Vallabhajosula is an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy Education in the School of Health Sciences. He completed his doctorate in 2010 from the University of Florida with specialization in biomechanics. He also completed two years of post-doctoral work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. At Elon, he teaches research-based courses and co-manages the biomechanics laboratory in the Francis Center. His research interests include biomechanical analysis and motor control related to human posture and movement.

The Elon Leadership Scholars Program is facilitated by Frances Ward-Johnson, Leadership Faculty Fellow and associate professor in the School of Communications, with assistance from the Center for Leadership and the Leadership Advisory Board. For more information, email