Elon honors faculty, staff for excellence at awards luncheon

Four members of Elon's faculty and staff along with 19 retiring employees were honored May 10 for excellence and service to Elon.

Elon faculty members Sophie Adamson, Megan Squire and Carolyn Ketcham as well as staff member Bob Frigo were recognized on May 10 for superior teaching, scholarship, mentorship and service at the annual faculty-staff awards luncheon in Alumni Gymnasium. 

In addition, longtime faculty and staff members who are retiring from service this year were recognized for the contributions to Elon during their years with the university. 

Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching
Sophie Adamson
Associate professor of French and chair of the Department of World Languages & Cultures

Sophie Adamson earns high praise from her fellow members of the Department of World Languages & Cultures for her ability to connect with her students, meld language and culture within curricula and make lasting impressions upon those she teaches and mentors.

Since joining Elon’s faculty in 2005, Adamson has continued to grow as a teacher and department head, while emerging as a leader in her approach to fusing language learning and cultural literacy in the classroom. After receiving the Elon College Excellence in Teaching award in 2010, her colleagues say she has continued to learn and grow as a teacher. 

“The same dynamism, innovation, creativity, rigor and ability to inspire students and colleagues are still present — now accompanied by a sophisticated, profound sense of the centrality of curriculum design and course design, measuring student learning, and a scholarly approach to teaching,” colleagues said in nominating her.

In the classroom, Adamson has created an environment that is both highly challenging and thoroughly supportive. A former colleague notes that “her classes are informed by her undeniable passion for her subject, her enthusiasm for the professor of teaching, and her caring for and commitment to her students.”

A student in Adamson’s Global Experience course talked about the anxiety she felt as a first-year student, and how that anxiety fell away after she walked into Adamson’s classroom. “What makes Professor Adamson so effective as a teacher is her ability to strike a balance between connecting with her students and enlightening them,” the student said. “On my worst days when I feel like being anywhere but inside a classroom, Professor Adamson somehow manages to pull me out of my academic doldrums and engage my attention. I’m not quite sure how she does it, but I can assure you that it’s a rare talent.” 

Multiple colleagues point to Adamson’s enthusiasm for incorporating technology into the language classroom. Among her innovations include digital narratives in which students use voiceover technology to describe personally significant photographs, the use of podcasting technology to create grammar lectures, and creating “Radio Francophone” podcasts from recorded conversations with native speakers of French.

“Sophie fuses language learning and cultural literacy,” a colleague said. “This fusion is essential to 21st century language education because it connects academic study to its real-world application, reaching beyond the walls of the classroom.”

A former student recalled how Adamson organized a class trip an African refugee center in Greensboro after the students had written children’s books in French for the families. “Sophie has brought French students out to dinner to talk about future career possibilities and help them connect with Elon alumni in their respective fields,” the student said. “Her creativity and innovation both in and out of the classroom have been a source of inspiration for me in many ways.”

Adamson is the 45th 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
Megan Squire

Professor of Computing Sciences

Megan Squire’s research and scholarship in the area of open online communities and open source software has generated international acclaim, with peers at other leading universities saying she has emerged as a global leader in the area. 

Such work is critical during a time when there is increasing focus on open source software and open online communities like Wikipedia. In particular, her contributions to scholarship and research in the area of free/libre open source software (FLOSS) and the SourceForge Research Data Archive have drawn the praise of colleagues who rely upon data related to open source software development for academic research. 

“In this age of big data, a major difficulty for the field has been in the gathering, storing and sharing of this massive amounts of digital footprints left behind by the collaborators,” said a colleague at another university. “Dr. Squire’s projects have been indispensable for researchers in this regard by providing them immediate access to invaluable resources such as clean data from a variety of sources, analyses, research reports, wikis and discussion forums to collaborate with other researchers.”

Squire joined the faculty at Elon in 2003 after completing her doctorate in computer science at Nova Southeastern University. At Elon, she teaches courses in data mining, web development, database development, data science and cybersecurity, with her research focus on free and open source software. 

As a researcher, her work has been voluminous and internationally regarded. An Elon colleague voicing support for Squire’s nomination for this award noted that “her scholarship stands without equal in the Department of Computing Sciences,” noting that she is the only member of the department to have published books on the subject. Her scholarship includes scores of refereed journal articles and book chapters since coming to Elon as well as nearly two dozen peer-refereed conference publications, most of which have reached international audiences. 

“Each year, she has continually raised the bar on the quality, impact and number of her scholarship contributions,” an Elon colleague said. 

One peer from another institution pointed in particular to her work with FLOSSmole.org, which facilitates the collaborative collection and analysis of free/libre and open source project data, saying that Squire’s work has been critical to the advancement of research in the area .

“Without Dr. Squire’s work on FLOSSmole.org, a generation of researchers like myself would be continuing to flounder about in the weeds, trying to understand similar phenomena, essentially in the dark,” the fellow scholar said. 

Squire is the 18th 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
Bob Frigo

Associate director of the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement

Through his work at Elon and the broader region, Bob Frigo has been focused on community, whether it be rallying his neighbors to voice concerns about the impact a new development could have on their community or working with an organization that focuses on ensuring that parents are engaged with their children. 

At Elon, he showed leadership during last year’s election season as he worked to encourage students, faculty and staff to register to vote and worked to encourage civic, and civil, discussions about the decisions citizens make at the ballot box. 

Frigo served as co-convener of the Political Engagement Work Group, which proved to be a major force in encouraging students to become involved in last year’s election. He had a hand in efforts including debate watch events, Elon Votes, TurboVote and working to answer questions that students had about voter registration. Those efforts helped Elon post the seventh-highest voter registration rate among students nationally. 

“His behind the scenes efforts may have gone unnoticed by some, but his contributions to the campus voter registration and civic engagement efforts were truly invaluable,” a colleague said. 

Work during the election seasons supplemented that he already does on an ongoing basis as associate director of the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement. As associate director, Frigo plays a role in the multifaceted initiatives of the center, including Campus Kitchen, Elon Volunteers, blood drives and service opportunities for students. 

Frigo is the 15th 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
​Caroline Ketcham

Associate professor and chair of the Department of Exercise Science

During the decade she has been at Elon, Caroline Ketcham has been a focused mentor who contributes to the development of students and peer professors alike by investing her time and knowledge in helping them grow as scholars and professionals. 

An active member of the undergraduate research community at Elon, Ketcham has worked with nearly 40 students on projects in her lab to date, offering inspirational and practical assistance as they work to become professionals in their field. “She has the ability to step back and allow the process to flow while simultaneously moving the project forward,” her colleagues wrote in nominating her for the Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award. “This comes from Caroline’s innate understanding of people and respect for allowing individuals to develop and flourish at their own rate and in their own direction.”

Working with students in the lab, Ketcham is known for connecting on a personal level with students as she encourages them to work toward academic and professional success. “Her personal commitment to these relationships is extraordinary, even on our campus where mentoring and student relationships are highly prized,” one colleague said. 

Students value not just the academic opportunities that come from working with Ketcham, but also the personal connection that evolves as they work together, colleagues said.

“She treats all of her students like people, not numbers,” said one student. “Along with developing a strong rapport with her students, Dr. Ketcham has the unique ability to both empower and challenge her students. Dr. Ketcham creates an environment that fosters profound thinking and creativity.”

As the former director of the Health Professions Advisory Committee, Ketcham has mentored countless students while also streamlining the application process for students pursuing admission to medical, dental and osteopathic schools. She broadened the committee to include the disciplines of psychology and public health. Ketcham is described as a “tireless advocate for students interested in the health and allied health fields.”

One of those former students now in medical school says that Ketcham played a vital role in helping her navigate not just her undergraduate research work, but the medical school application process. “She cheered me on when I felt discouraged and offered helpful critiques when I changed my personal statement for the 10th time,” the former student said. 

Ketcham was the first person the former student wanted to talk to when she received her MCAT scores, and the person “who would appreciate my tears of joy” when she received her letter of acceptance to medical school. “When I shared the news with Dr. Ketcham, I said, ‘We did it!’ And we did,” the student said. 

A scholar of the mentoring of undergraduate research, Ketcham’s work through Elon’s Center for Engaged Learning has brought together other scholars from multiple institutions to examine the benefits of co-mentoring students. She’s a co-editor of an upcoming edition of the journal Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring, and is passionate about “mentoring the mentor,” having made it a priority to assist faculty members who are new to mentoring undergraduate research.

“Her excellence as a mentor augments not only our campus community but also national and international scholarly communities interested in mentoring,” said colleagues who nominated her for the award. “We would all do well to emulate her approach to mentoring.”

Ketcham is the 10th 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.