Elon's 2017 faculty retirees recognized

At the annual Faculty/Staff Lunch on May 10, the Elon community honored six faculty members who are retiring his year. 

Nineteen retiring faculty and staff members were recognized May 10 for their contributions and service to Elon at the annual faculty-staff awards luncheon in Alumni Memorial Gymnasium. 

The gathering Wednesday offered an opportunity to thank these university employees for their service and wish them well in what’s next in their lives. Faculty members retiring this academic year are: 

Scott Buechler
Associate dean of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and associate professor of business communications

Scott Buechler calls his arrival at the Love School of Business “serendipitous,” noting that the business school was a client of a company he was working with. A campus visit in as part of a business call alerted him to an ad for the position of associate dean, with Buechler successfully landing the position in 2003. 

That started a 15-year stretch at Elon during which he’s served twice in the role of associate dean and once as interim dean — from 2011 to 2012. In the classroom, he’s been an assistant and then associate professor, with 2009 through 2011 spent as chair of the department. He says he’ll miss working in “such a dynamic, entrepreneurial environment” with “great people, great leadership and great support for innovation.”

Asked for a favorite memory, Buechler looks back to preparing for a visit to New York and Wall Street with a group of Business Fellows in fall 2008 just as the financial crisis was “raining down on the city and country.” The week before the visit, Lehman Brothers, which had been a planned stop during the visit, was dissolved and Wall Street was in disarray. 

“I spent several nights that week talking with with financial firms in New York City, some cancelling our planned visits and some keeping them,” Buechler recalls. “It was stressful and exhausting — during an historic time in the business history of the United States.”

On Buechler’s to-do list in retirement: go fly fishing, play guitar, visit national parks with his wife, learning to code and learning basic woodworking. 

Jim Exum Jr.
Distinguished professor of the judicial process

Taking the stage during the Faculty-Staff Lunch to be honored for his service to the university, Jim Exum Jr. noted that this is his third retirement. 

Distinguished within North Carolina and nationally within the legal field, Exum rose within the judicial ranks to become chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, and played a major role in modernizing the court before retiring from the bench after 28 years in 1994. He returned to private practice with Smith Moore Leatherwood, and retired from the practice of law earlier this year. 

Now Exum will leave the faculty at the Elon University School of Law after serving as a distinguished professor of the judicial process. “This is my third retirement, and in many ways it’s the most poignant,” Exum said. 

Exum was a founding member of the law school’s advisory council and played a role in helping launch the school in 2007. As a faculty member, he’s been able to draw from the wealth of knowledge he has as a jurist on the state’s highest court and as a lawyer involved in weighty cases and convey that to students studying the law

“Of all the things I’ve done, I think in many ways this experience I have had as a teacher, as a member of this faculty of this great university, to have been given the opportunity to help young people learn the things they need to know to do the things they want to do and to be the person that they want to be — to have that opportunity is probably one of the greatest privileges I have had,” Exum said. “I will always cherish it.”

Eugene “Gene” Grimley III
Professor of Chemistry

Recruited to university by President Emeritus Earl Danieley, Grimley joined Elon’s faculty in fall 1987 following 17 years spent teaching and conducting research at Mississippi State University. 

Grimley was drawn to the desire of what was then Elon College desire to grow and enrich the institution, adding that he “knew that it had real potential to reach the status of a highly esteemed undergraduate chemistry program.” He also wanted to be near his family, both close to Elon and in New Jersey.  

While here, he’s been a professor of chemistry and a T. E. Powell Jr. Chair, as well as gained American Chemical Society Certification for the Chemistry Department. Grimley has served as president of the chemistry honor society, Phi Lambda Upsilon – and will continue to do so.

“It was exciting to develop the chemistry curriculum and gain B.S. certification by the American Chemical Society and to be on the ground floor (actually the 3rd floor of Duke) developing plans for the McMichael Science Center. 

Grimley will miss conducting research with his students in chemistry and biochemistry, but plans to maintain an office and research space in McMichael even in retirement.

Beyond chemistry and Elon, he plans to travel, both to see his family and hopefully to visit the Western U.S. and Alaska.

Greg Lilly
Associate professor of economics

Greg Lilly joined the faculty of Elon University in the fall of 1990 as an assistant professor, hired that year to fill a temporary one-year position in the Department of Economics. 

Now 27 years later, Lilly is retiring from Elon, having served first as an assistant professor then associate professor. Lilly led the department as chair from 1999 through 2005, and has taught courses including “Principles of Economics,”  “Intermediate Microeconomic Theory,” “Experimental Economics,” and the first-year seminar “Global Experiences,” and has co-led the study abroad experience “Business and Culture of Vietnam.” He has published multiple peer-review journal articles and has been a frequent collaborator with his colleagues in the Love School of Business. 

“I’ll miss working with the faculty and staff,” Lilly said when asked about what he’ll miss most. “You quickly discover that the people who work here are talented, hard-working and good-hearted.”

Lilly is still figuring out his long-term plans for retirement but as for the short term, he’ll embark on a bicycle tour of Vietnam with his sons later this year. 

Deborah Stetts
Associate professor of physical therapy education

Following more than two decades as a physical therapist in the U.S. Army, Deborah Stetts joined Elon University in 2005 as an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy Education just two years after the university had launched its doctoral program. 

Stetts has taught multitudes of Elon students in the area of musculoskeletal management while exploring her research interests in areas such as the use of real-time ultrasound imaging to examine abdominal muscle performance in select patient populations. Across the institution she’s been involved in the Academic Council, the institutional review board and the library committee. 

Stetts will relocate to Florida in retirement, and asked about what she will miss most about working at Elon, she said, “I will miss all of it!”



Barth Strempek
Associate professor of Entrepreneurship

Barth Strempek was looking for new opportunities after 14 years spent in engineering, an MBA program and the business world within the railroad and information system industries. He found that opportunity in higher education, as he starting teaching, obtained a doctorate and became a member of the faculty of Elon in 1994 as an assistant professor of management. 

During his time at Elon, he’s honed his academic focus on entrepreneurship, being named an associate professor of entrepreneurship in 2011 and serving as director of the Doherty Center and as the Doherty Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership from 2008 to 2009. 

But asked about a favorite memory from his time at Elon, Strempek returns to the recording studio instead of the classroom. He cites working with his entrepreneurship students and Professor of Music Jon Metzger on producing three professional jazz CDs as a cherished remembrance. 

Looking ahead, Strempek plans to travel in Italy later this year and France next spring and summer, with the long-term goal of spending four to six months a year in France. He’s halfway through writing his first “mediocre American novel” with a second one already planned. Playing and composing jazz, along with reading and hitting the golf course will also occupy his time. 

Retiring staff members will be honored on Staff Appreciation Day on May 26.