Five presented with Elon University's highest honor — the Elon Medallion

Elon President Leo M. Lambert bestowed the university's highest honor upon five retired faculty and staff members for their meritorious service to the university. 

2016 Elon Medallion recipients, from left, Gerry Francis, Edie Alexander, Tom Tiemann, Anne Bolin and Ron Klepcyk.
Five former faculty and staff members who provided years of distinguished service to Elon were honored on Monday, Aug. 22, with Elon Medallions. The medallions are traditionally awarded by President Leo M. Lambert at the start of the annual faculty/staff planning week, which marks the beginning of the academic year.

Receiving medallions this year were: Edie Francis Alexander, former administrative assistant; Anne Bolin, professor emerita of anthropology; Gerry Francis, provost emeritus and professor emeritus of mathematics; Ron Klepcyk, former director of human resources; and Tom Tiemann, founding dean of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and Jefferson-Pilot professor emeritus of economics.

Edie Francis Alexander

With dedication, compassion, and unwavering professionalism, Edie Alexander faithfully served Elon as an administrative assistant for 26 years, helping to fuel the success of some of the university’s top academic programs and changing the lives of hundreds of students whom she mentored. 

Receiving her Elon Medallion on Monday, Alexander said, “I am so proud to have been a very small pat of Elon’s transformation.”

Alexander joined the Elon community in 1988 to serve as administrative assistant to then-Chaplain Richard McBride before taking on additional responsibilities to support former President J. Earl Danieley and then-Special Assistant to the President Jo Watts Williams.

Alexander’s deep institutional knowledge and close relationships with faculty and staff across campus were essential to each of the offices and programs she supported, including the Isabella Cannon Leadership Program, Elon Volunteers!, the Honors Program, General Studies, Undergraduate Research, the Associate Provost’s Office, and Writing Across the University.

Her ability to plan ahead and anticipate the needs of multiple supervisors was legendary and contributed to the success of many of Elon’s hallmark events, including Leaders of the 21 Century, the Spring Undergraduate Research Forum, and Fellows Weekend, as well as the university’s participation in the annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Considered the heart and soul of the Honors Program, Alexander worked diligently with each faculty director to advance this signature program by remaining focused on what was best for student learning.

Alexander regularly drew strength from the Elon community, saying, “There is a rush that comes with working at Elon. You are inspired by the students, surrounded by friendships and challenged in ways you would not find elsewhere.”

Anne Bolin

Boundless enthusiasm and a genuine love for the Elon community are among the many gifts that Anne Bolin shared with the university for 27 years as an anthropology professor, while embodying Elon’s teacher-scholar-mentor model and illuminating our understanding of what it means to be human.

“Words cannot express the depth of my gratitude for receiving this medallion,” Bolin said after presented with the honor by Lambert. “It is the zenith of my work as an academic. Elon, you touched my heart with this medallion as you have touched me.”

Bolin joined the campus community as Elon’s first anthropologist in 1988 and led efforts to create an anthropology minor and ultimately a major, enriching the university’s academic offerings and helping to recruit talented scholars to the department of sociology and anthropology before retiring in 2015 as professor emerita of anthropology.

Recognizing early in her career that faculty scholarship was essential to the national institution Elon aspired to be, Bolin became one of the university’s consummate scholars, writing five books and more than 50 articles and chapters, and presenting her work at more than 100 conferences, helping to build Elon’s reputation as a leader in engaged learning.

From her pioneering study of the transgender community in her first book, “In Search of Eve: Transsexual Rites of Passage,” to her work as co-editor of the three-volume International “Encyclopedia of Sexuality,” Bolin solidified her role as an internationally recognized expert on the culture of sex, gender and human sexuality, and was honored with Elon’s Distinguished Scholar Award.

An anthropologist at heart, Bolin’s research into women bodybuilders inspired her to become a competitive bodybuilder, winning several amateur titles, and to write numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on the topic, leading one colleague to observe, “Anne doesn’t simply ‘do’ her work; she is her work.”

Bolin modeled global citizenship and a scholarly life by creating and leading Elon’s study abroad course on aboriginal Australia and co-leading the Holocaust course and semester programs in London and Florence, and by mentoring dozens of students in undergraduate research, challenging them to fully embrace the world of intellectual inquiry and discovery.

Gerald L. Francis

With intelligence, integrity and humor, Gerry Francis served for 41 years as a transformational figure in Elon’s history, inspiring members of the university community to reach ever higher, to care deeply for one another, and to remain focused on preparing students to lead successful and rewarding lives. After dedicating his career to Elon, Francis retired in 2015 as Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Provost Emeritus and is widely recognized as one of the architects of the university’s rise to national distinction.

Francis joined the Elon faculty in 1974 as an assistant professor and built a reputation as an exemplary teacher in the department of mathematics and computing sciences, receiving the Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching and the N.C. Council of Teachers of Mathematics outstanding leadership award.

Demonstrating great promise as a leader, Francis became associate dean of academic affairs in 1983 and rose through Elon’s administrative ranks to serve as vice president and dean of academic affairs, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Elon’s first executive vice president during a time of significant institutional growth. His thoughtful and steady leadership and his expertise in building consensus were essential to the success of key Elon initiatives, including the continued growth and progress of the university’s faculty, professional schools, and academic programs.

“This is my gold medal,” Francis said Monday, holding up his Elon Medallion. “But this is not an individual gold medal. This is a team gold medal. I’m here only because of the work of everybody else.”

Francis’s ability to think through complex initiatives and his deep understanding of the university and its people were legendary and undergirded many of Elon’s most significant achievements, including moving to NCAA Division I, pursuing the highest accreditation for each professional school, and opening the Elon University School of Law. The naming of the Gerald L. Francis Center as a home for the School of Health Sciences is a testament to his extraordinary commitment to Elon.

As a longtime member of Elon’s senior leadership team, Francis offered wise and invaluable counsel to both President Emeritus J. Fred Young and President Leo M. Lambert, guiding the institution to remain focused on becoming the national leader in engaged learning. Endearing himself to the entire Elon community with a genuine and easy smile and a knack for bringing out the best in everyone, Francis mentored many faculty and staff members, enabling them to discover talents in themselves and continue to grow.

Ronald Andrew Klepcyk

During nearly four decades of dedicated service to Elon University, Ron Klepcyk held the campus community close to his heart while helping to build preeminent student life and human resources operations. He retired from Elon in 2015 after establishing an enduring legacy of compassion for others and dedication to his work that continues to inspire each day.

“When people asked me why I stayed so long,” Klepcyk said after receiving the medallion, “I tell them I wanted to be part of something special that was happening at Elon that certainly was worth that investment of time.”

Klepcyk joined the Elon staff in 1978 as associate director of special institutional programs before being named associate dean of student affairs in 1982 and later dean of student affairs, working tirelessly to develop and advance programs that enhanced the student experience. Klepcyk’s strong leadership and management skills were instrumental to the design and development of the Moseley Center, a dynamic hub of student life, as well as the Loy Center and Danieley Center Apartments, all of which benefitted from his creativity and focus on what was best for students.

Klepcyk actively supported development of the Elon Volunteers! service program and international service trips and was integral to the initial planning for the Elon Experiences Transcript to enable students to document their participation in the university’s powerful engaged learning programs.

Following 10 years of excellent service in student life, Klepcyk was named director of human resources in 1993, leveraging his thoughtful and caring approach to help build a professional operation that was critical to Elon’s ascension. Believing that investing in people would make Elon a stronger institution, he championed expanding benefits for faculty and staff, including developing the tuition exchange program, professional development opportunities, and summer flex-time initiative for staff, while also leading staff appreciation day, which was a labor of love for him.

Recognized as a respected leader in his field, Klepcyk served with distinction at the local, regional and national levels of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, which recognized him in 2011 with the Distinguished Service Award, and also serves the community as mayor pro tem of the Town of Elon.

Thomas Klick Tiemann

For 30 years, Tom Tiemann was dedicated to advancing Elon’s Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, where he served as founding dean and later as the Jefferson-Pilot Professor of Economics, working tirelessly to enrich the intellectual climate of the campus and prepare students to be engaged citizens of the world; and

After joining the faculty in 1984, Tiemann served as chair of the department of economics; director of General Studies, now known as the Elon Core Curriculum; dean of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business; and director of the Business Fellows program. Tiemann worked diligently, often behind the scenes, to promote academic excellence and global engagement in the Love School and was a champion for the liberal arts at Elon, recognizing its value in preparing young men and women to lead our future.

Highly respected among his colleagues, Tiemann was a positive force for change, helping to lead the transition during the 1990s to the four-credit-hour system, which began in the Love School due to his steady leadership and ability to build consensus.

Throughout his distinguished career, Tiemann was a passionate believer in global engagement and spearheaded efforts to internationalize the Love School by creating the international business dual-degree program, leading study abroad courses, serving as a guest faculty member at the Cracow University of Economics in Poland, and serving on the faculty for the Elon in New York program.

One of Elon’s most inspiring teachers, scholars, and mentors, Tiemann instilled a love of learning in students, whether he was teaching economics or leading a class through the streets of Burlington or Kraków to demonstrate how cities develop and thrive, and is a recipient of Elon’s Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“As a faculty member, I could try new things at Elon,” Tiemann said when he received his medallion. 

Whereas, Tiemann modeled intellectual engagement by presenting more than 50 research papers focused on topics ranging from urban economics to the role of farmers markets in sustaining communities and American commuting habits in the 21 century, a subject he knew well thanks to his more than 20 years of carpooling with his colleagues.