Four faculty members and 19 retirees were honored May 11 for excellence and service to Elon.
Elon faculty members Tony Crider, Eric Hall and Liz Bailey were recognized May 11 for superior teaching, scholarship and service at the annual faculty-staff awards luncheon in Alumni Memorial Gymnasium.
A fourth faculty member, Heidi Frontani, who died from a sudden illness on Feb. 26, was honored posthumously for her mentorship.
“While the Elon whole has shrunk following her loss, we can take comfort in the fact that we are all who we are because of who she was,” said Tim Peeples, associate provost for faculty affairs.
In addition, longtime employees of the university, including President Emeritus Earl J. Danieley ’46 who is retiring from teaching after 70 years of service, were recognized for their contributions to Elon.
Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching
Associate Professor of Physics
Tony Crider’s love of learning is transparent to anyone who knows him. His colleagues describe him as “deeply attentive” and “devoted, persistent and electric.” His former students call him “fiercely supportive” and “energizing.”
Crider’s personal energy and eagerness is infectious. “I don’t ever recall leaving a class feeling frustrated because I couldn’t understand a new concept. More often than not, I walked out of class still in discussion with my classmates about what we had been talking about that day,” said a student.
Crider has the unique ability to effectively communicate science to both experts and non-experts alike, ensuring each student that they are capable of handling the material. This outlook creates an empowering and inclusive classroom environment for all majors, even in the potentially intimidating field of astrophysics.
Through his mentorship, students recognize that their doubts serve as an important step in their own learning, and that their questions will be met with openness and encouragement.
“Professors will fade into one or two memorable quotes, and courses will be condensed into one of the many papers that I might be lucky enough to remember. But this is not at all the case with Tony Crider. When asked to recount my favorite class or teaching experience from college, I immediately come back to the ‘Life in the Universe’ course,” said a student.
The course challenges students to think critically and existentially about human life and the potential existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. The course ends with another interesting aspect of Crider’s teaching style, his approach to the final exam:
“Tony realized that final exams should be starting points not ending points, uplifting rather than anticlimactic. He has redesigned many of his classes to reflect this philosophy, pondering seriously the question: ‘What do I want my students to remember six months, one year, three years from now?’ It’s a kind of long-term thinking that we too often ignore,” said a colleague.
Instead of a written test, students are instructed create a role-play simulation to secretly construct alien civilizations based on plausible biological and cultural backstories.
“Seeing the students immersed in discussion and applying all of the knowledge they learned throughout the semester make me rethink my preconceived ideas pertaining to the purpose of a final exam,” a colleague said.
Crider is the 44th Elon faculty member to receive the award established by President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley ’46 and his late wife, Verona Daniels Danieley, in honor of their parents.
Distinguished Scholar Award
Professor of Exercise Science
Concussions in sports continue to receive a lot of attention and remain a public health concern. It’s why research in the field remains timely and important.
Eric Hall, a professor of exercise science, has made great strides in conducting original and high-impact concussion research and is a known contributor to the field. As a collaborator of Elon BrainCARE, a Concussion Assessment, Research and Education program, along with Caroline Ketchum, associate professor exercise science, Hall continues to keep the topic relevant.
“(Eric Hall’s) position as faculty athletic representative as well as his ability to build relationships with coaches, administrators and sports medicine staff across campus made this opportunity beneficial to all constituents,” an Elon colleague said. “One of the most known difficulties in concussion research is buy-in from athletics and Elon BrainCARE has had support from the beginning because of Dr. Hall.”
Since BrainCARE’s inception six years ago, every varsity athlete and club athlete receives a baseline test so in the event the athlete has a concussion there is a test on record to use as a comparison. Hall’s work and his collaborative spirit has helped make Elon a leader in establishing concussion management guidelines for return-to-play and return-to-learn. The model is now being instituted in all NCAA programs across the nation.
Hall is a prolific researcher with a publication record that includes almost 50 peer-reviewed scholarly articles and hundreds of presentations. His publications are often co-authored with students and colleagues from Elon and within the discipline at other institutions.
Hall’s work with student scholars stands out among Elon alumni. “Perhaps Dr. Hall’s greatest attribute is his ability to serve as a mentor; one who is there for support and guidance, yet does not smother his mentee’s curiosity and potential for growth by micromanaging throughout the process,” said a former student who has gone on to do graduate work in the field. “This balance is exceedingly rare in academia. He encourages his students to peel back an extra layer of the ‘problem’ to ask deeper questions while also keeping them on task.”
Hall finds the right balance of driving his own scholarship while encouraging and challenging the students he mentors to excel in undergraduate research.
“I have a learned a lot from Eric by the way he guides his students to excel in both academics and scholarship,” an Elon colleague said. “He conducts weekly journal clubs and asks students to take leadership in leading and discussing the articles. The very fact that many of his undergraduate students have published peer-reviewed articles under his tutelage speaks high.”
Hall is the 17th recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award, which recognizes a faculty member whose research has earned peer commendation and respect, and who has made significant contributions to his or her field of study.
Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility
Lecturer in Health and Human Performance
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.
In an effort to create a mentoring program for young boys, Bailey worked with students to organize Coaching Health and Mentoring Positive Students in 2010. This program brought together fraternity brothers and university athletes to mentor young boys on nutrition education, being a team player, handling peer pressure and sports skills training.
“The magnitude of effort it takes to coordinate and sustain these community programs over time, while meeting the demands of a full-time faculty position at Elon, is extraordinary,” a colleague said.
Bailey is committed to serving as many kids as possible and focuses on underrepresented populations. Sometimes this means literally driving the bus herself in order to ensure transportation when children or parents can’t make it to a group program.
“Liz is always going the extra mile no matter what it takes, to make sure the children, parents, community partners and mentors have a positive, meaningful experience,” a colleague said.
Bailey’s focus on social responsibility extends beyond Alamance County. She helped develop a study abroad course focused on improving the living conditions and life prospects of children living in Honduras. She also serves as a board member for Alamance Citizen’s For Education, is on the developmental committee at Peacehaven Farms and offers exercise programs at Twin Lakes Retirement Community.
In addition to a full teaching load, scholarly pursuits and extracurricular programming, she serves on the General Studies Council, Sexual Assault and Gender Issues Council, the Leadership Advisory Board, Faculty Research and Development Committee and has made numerous contributions to her academic department. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Ralph Scott Lifeservices, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides residential services and community support to people with developmental disabilities.
“Liz Bailey’s genuine, unassuming contributions to the pragmatic improvement of the health and well-being of many people in our local and world communities deserves recognition that she does not seek and is rarely noted,” a colleague said. “I can think of no one who better deserves the service award.”
Bailey is the 14th 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.
Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award
Professor of Geography
Heidi Frontani was a champion for each and every one of her students. She inspired them to open their eyes to the world beyond their local communities in a way they had never seen before.
“She put empathy in my heart by the way she taught. She made it impossible for me to see injustices, and then disconnect. She made me feel connected to the world and responsible for how I would leave it once I was gone,” said a former student.
Her guidance helped them find courage and self-worth. “She empowered us to pursue our dreams,” said a former student. Her students knew that no matter what question or concern they had, they could trust her to guide them through it.
“She cultivated each individual’s unique skills to facilitate impact in their respective paths,” a former student said. “We are all a living testament to her philosophy of action, signified by our involvement in our local communities and betterment of the world.”
It was in her advocacy for current and former students that Frontani took the greatest delight and through which she changed the trajectory of others’ lives for the better. Once she came into one’s life, the bonds of generosity took root and remained firmly grounded. She felt most passionately about teaching her students how to make an impact in the world and recognized that, collectively, the whole is stronger.
“There have been numerous people in the Elon community she’s connected to one another, people from all walks of life. This, to me, is one of Dr. Frontani’s greatest gifts – the ability to understand the strength of each individual and bring those people together for a bigger purpose,” said a former student.
Frontani did not let go of her students after graduation. She kept up with their progress and regularly made phone calls and checked in long after they had left campus. Her leadership and energy encouraged her students to maintain a balance of focus and curiosity.
“Heidi managed to push each of us out of our comfort zones, which allowed us to achieve things we never imagined possible,” said a former student.
Many of Frontani’s former students are now physicians, epidemiologists, lawyers, educators and scholars within their fields. With her help, many have presented their research at various academic conferences and have gone on to win scholarships, grants and prizes.
“I hope Dr. Frontani knew the degree to which she impacted my life,” a former student said. “She was without a doubt one of the most important people in my life. She fundamentally changed the way I see the world and shaped who I have become. I hope to live my life in a way that would make her proud, challenging myself to do more, to do better, and the make the world a better place.”
Frontani is the ninth person to be honored with the Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award, which recognizes a faculty or staff member who demonstrates a commitment to Elon undergraduates through outstanding mentoring. The award was established by Tom and Beth Ward P ’05, ’08, ’14, their sons, A.T. ’05, Christopher ’08 and Chase ’14, and Tom Ward’s mother, Dorothy Mears Ward GP ’05, ’08, ’14.