At the annual Faculty/Staff Awards Luncheon on May 9, the Elon community honored 12 faculty members who are retiring this year.
Nineteen retiring faculty and staff members were recognized May 9 for their contributions and service to Elon at the annual Faculty/Staff Awards Luncheon in Alumni 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:
Associate professor of physical therapy education
Sue Chinworth arrived at Elon in 1997 as the university was launching its new master’s in physical therapy program, and she’s seen it grow since then to become a doctoral program housed within Elon’s School of Health Sciences.
First an assistant professor and then promoted to associate professor, she most recently taught biomechanics and musculoskeletal management and dysfunction. She’s been active in academic life at Elon, having served on the Promotions and Tenure Committee, the Academic Council, the DPT Admissions subcommittee and has chaired two standing committees — the Athletics standing committee and the Committee on Human Participants in Research.
Asked what she will miss most about Elon, Chinworth says she will cherish the work she’s done with students, staff and faculty within the Department of Physical Therapy Education and the School of Health Sciences.
Following her retirement, she plans to still be involved in research and teaching as an adjunct while also taking time to travel and pursue her photography hobby.
Associate professor of dance
It was in 2005 that Lynne Formato arrived at Elon to join the Department of Performing Arts. She had been looking for a position in academia, and a mutual friend of Cathy McNeela, William S. Long Professor and professor of performing arts, pointed Formato to Elon.
“She convinced me that Cathy was the ‘real deal,’ that I was just what Elon needed, and that I would love it here,” Formato says. “At the time, most of my friends in western New York had no idea where Elon was. I took a leap of faith.”
It was a leap that would lead to Formato becoming an associate professor of dance at Elon and an integral part of the university’s musical theatre program. She’s been deeply involved with students as a professor as well as a director and choreographer for Elon’s performing arts productions.
“I will miss the students most of all — their passion, creativity and intelligence,” Formato says. “In addition, while I have loved working with them on every production, I have some favorite shows and memories — ‘Rent,’ ‘American Idiot,’ ‘A Man of No Importance,’ ‘In the Heights,’ ‘Ragtime’ and ‘Working.’ Oh — and that big staging of the Spring Convocation honoring Hal Prince — thank goodness for the professional experience that gave me the skills to handle that task!”
Formato will retire at the end of spring semester. In addition to helping care for her mother in Buffalo, New York, she plans to continue her national and international career as a director and choreographer as well as presenting master classes in theatre dance for organizations such as Dance Masters of America. This summer, Elon alumna Kristin Sandler will serve as her assistant choreographer at The Gotherburg Opera in Sweden where they will be remounting Frederica Teater’s Reumert Award-winning “Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Associate professor of physical therapy education
Jane Freund arrived at Elon in 2002 as a part-time faculty member following her retirement from the U.S. Army, and two years later became a full-time member of the faculty. “One of my mentors from graduate school, Cynthia Lewis, was on the faculty at the time, so I knew it was a great program,” Freund says.
Freund’s primary teaching areas have been advanced clinical practice selectives in neurorehabilitation and clinical seminars, while her research areas have included abdominal muscle function in persons with neurological impairments and locomotor training in various patient populations. She’ll retire at the end of spring semester as an associate professor of physical therapy education.
“A favorite memory is working with the physical therapy students with a young man with a brain injury, and seeing him progress over several years from a wheelchair to walking, living independently, driving and working full time,” Freund says.
In retirement, Freund plans to spend more time hiking, biking and playing volleyball.
Professor of psychology
Paul Fromson was working as a clinical psychologist in Winston-Salem in the mid-1980s when he realized that he likely didn’t want to spend his entire life in private practice. He reached out to Elon faculty member Seena Granowsky, now retired, and by what Fromson calls “an uncanny stroke of good fortune,” Elon was just beginning its psychology major and needed faculty for additional sections of General Psychology.
“It didn’t take me long to realize that this was exactly right for me, so when two permanent lines were created that spring, I redoubled my efforts to be the best adjunct Elon College had ever seen and go after the line in my area,” Fromson says. “And here I am 32 years later, still totally convinced that this was the right move for me.”
Eventually hired as an assistant professor, Fromson progressed to associate and then full professor, and has served as chair of his department as an assistant dean of academic affairs during his tenure. He was director of Elon’s Winter Term in London program for five years, and he served as founding director of the Lumen Prize program.
Fromson said during his 32 years at Elon, it’s hard to tap a single memory that stands out above all others, but he does know what he will miss most. “The college years are one of the most powerful transition times in a person’s life,” he says. “And while it isn’t the case for every student one ever has — by a long chalk — to have played a part in the growth of so many students over the years has been a great joy and privilege.”
One of his greatest joys has been to hear from students years after they have left Elon, enjoy the updates on how their lives have unfolded and learn about the impact he has had on them. Just a week ago, Fromson says he had a visit from a student who graduated in 1992. “That visit reminded me in the most wonderful way what is truly special about having made a professional life here,” Fromson says.
What lies ahead in retirement? “In the short term, I plan on wearing shorts, T-shirts and sneakers on a daily basis,” Fromson says. “I will be pursuing things that give my heart joy — like hiking in the woods, being on my bike, reading, drawing and trying new recipes on my ever-tolerant wife.”
This summer will bring travel to Edinburgh and Dublin in what he hopes is “the first of many trips we’ll be taking while we’re still sprightly. And I hope I’ll remain open to new things that life throws my way.”
Assistant professor of communications
Initially hired as a one-year replacement for someone on sabbatical in the Department of Literature, Languages and Communications, Gerald Gibson began what would become a 39-year career at Elon in 1979.
“When they chose not to return, I was offered a full-time position as an instructor and then later was promoted to assistant professor,” Gibson recounts.
Prior to attending graduate school, Gibson had worked in radio and television broadcasting and then the corporate world — skills he brought with him and used to help advance what would become Elon’s School of Communications. He has taught radio broadcasting, broadcast journalism, public speaking and a variety of other communications courses.
Gibson served as adviser of WSOE-FM from 1979 through 1985, and has been a student media adviser, a member of the University Media Board, multiple university committees and has been an instructor for Elon 101. Earlier this year, WSOE-FM announced the creation of a leadership award that carries Gibson’s name.
“I tell a lot of stories in class that begin with ‘I have a friend who …’ and those friends were students of mine at one time,” Gibson says. “I will miss seeing and interacting with students on a daily basis. My favorite memories fall into two categories: 1) traveling with students, to Great Britain and New York City and Los Angeles, a chance to really get to know their hopes and dreams; and 2) when a former student returns to campus with their son or daughter and makes a point of finding me and introducing their child.”
This summer, Gibson and his wife will be celebrating their retirements along with 45 years of marriage by spending time in London and Ireland. “We’ll continue our hiking and we want to ramp up our involvement in volunteer organizations,” Gibson says. “Long term, I want to drive Route 66 from Chicago to California, living out a dream from an old black-and-white TV show that I saw as a child.”
Professor of sociology and Distinguished University Professor
It was the fall of 1977 when Tom Henricks joined the faculty of Elon, arriving as a young professor to work at a small college, a place where he felt he could make a difference. Also, North Carolina offered an interesting place to explore as a new life-setting, he says.
Since then, he’s risen to the role of full professor and has earned top honors including Distinguished University Professor and an appointment as the first J. Earl Danieley Professor. During a six-year stretch beginning in 1991, he served as associate dean of academic affairs and dean of social sciences.
As a professor, his interests within the field of sociology have included social theory, modernization and change, popular culture, social stratification, race and ethnic relations and the sociology of play, games and sport. He helped establish a new sociology major at Elon in 1982 and then served as department chair from 1984 to 1991.
Asked what he’ll miss most about Elon, Henricks points to the relationships with students and colleagues. In retirement, he plans to continue with his academic studies and writing as well as traveling and visiting family members.
Watts/Thompson Professor, professor of human service studies, and distinguished university professor
A faculty member since 1981, Pam Kiser is the Watts-Thompson Professor in the Department of Human Service Studies and a Distinguished University Professor. She says she arrived as an adjunct, only to remain here and eventually become a full professor. “It changed my career, and I guess, indeed, my life,” Kiser says.
During her tenure at Elon she has served 18 years as the chair of her department and was twice the interim dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences.
An innovator in the classroom, Kiser was recognized in 2007 with the Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching. A well-renowned scholar in her field, she has focused on experiential learning, particularly internships and service learning. She played an integral role in founding Elon’s service-learning efforts in the early 1990s, and led the initiative to create a standard definition of service-learning at Elon, developing a service-learning faculty handbook, raising funds to support faculty scholars and course development, and guiding the creation of the social entrepreneurship scholars program.
In 2009 she received the Robert L. Sigmon Service-Learning Award from North Carolina Campus Compact for her dedication to the practice of service-learning in higher education.
Maude Sharpe Powell Professor, professor of religious studies, Distinguished University Professor
Jeffrey Pugh arrived at Elon in 1986, drawn in part by the desire to leave a job in Tennessee that had him teaching 12 classes a year and serving as chaplain — a position that proved too difficult to manage. “Elon’s 4-1-4 course load seemed easier at the time. That, and the fact the department’s first choice backed out at the last minute,” Pugh says.
At Elon, he has served as chair of the Department of Religious Studies, has chaired the Promotions and Tenure Committee, has served as a member of the Academic Council and along with retired faculty member Tom Tiemann, served as a founding faculty member of the Service Learning Community.
He has helped develop and pilot the first global studies courses that later became part of Elon’s core courses, was named Daniels-Danieley Professor in 2000, was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award in 2000 and was named Distinguished University Professor in 2017. He’ll be delivering the Baccalaureate address before Commencement this year.
Pugh says he’ll miss most “the community of people who have helped me be a better person that I would have been without them.”
The author of six books, Pugh says this summer he’ll be searching for publishers for two additional works. He and his wife, Jan, who is also retiring, plan to walk the Camino de Santiago through Spain and France in September “as we transition into the next adventure.”
Associate professor of political science and policy studies
A move to Elon in 1999 from the University of the South, Sewanee, offered Sharon Spray the opportunity to teach full time in the Department of Political Science and Policy Studies, a department she would serve as chair. Spray is the founding director of the Elon University Poll, which has continued to grow since its launch in 2000, and has held a dual position throughout her tenure at Elon with the Department of Environmental Studies.
Her research has centered in the area of environmental politics, with a focus on the effects of globalization on international environmental treaty development. She’s taught courses including environmental policy and law, international environmental politics and resource conflicts.
Asked what she’ll miss the most, Spray points to the “day-to-day interactions with my wonderful and supportive colleagues in the Department of Political Science. “I feel very fortunate to have worked with people who are smart, collegial and who have been willing to collaborate on scholarly and teaching endeavors throughout my career at Elon.”
Spray says she will also miss being in the classroom. “Teaching has always tapped into my personal energy and creativity as I searched for new ways to help students learn to be better thinkers and writers no matter what the subject material,” Spray says.
Following her retirement at the end of June, Spray and her husband plan to remain in North Carolina and split time between their home in Burlington and a home in Blowing Rock. Retirement will also bring more time to spend with her family in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the ability to pursue activities she loves such as biking, running and climbing.
“My husband and I would like to complete a couple of more high-altitude climbs before we age out of the sport,” Spray says. “With more time in our schedules, we also plan to donate more of our time and resources to community organizations that need our assistance.”
Spray says she will also be working with a Women’s Entrepreneurial Co-operative designed to nurture the independent and artistic endeavors of creative women.
Professor of philosophy
Anthony Weston found Elon to be “an intriguing and energetic place on the move” when he joined the faculty in the fall of 1992. He had been teaching in New York, but his partner was well-settled at N.C. State University, they were about to have children, “and I was ready to head south,” he says.
Weston would serve as associate professor and then full professor in the departments of philosophy and environmental studies during his tenure at Elon. He was among those who first designed “The Global Experience” first-year seminar in 1993 and he chaired the Department of Philosophy from 2002 to 2008. In 2002 he received the Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching and in 2007 received the Distinguished Scholar Award. Weston has published about 15 books and more than 50 articles.
What he’ll miss the most about Elon? “Such great students, and getting better every year.”
Weston says he still has many books yet to write and “an ecovillage to build,” as he and his partner are founding members of Hart’s Mill Ecovillage in Mebane, N.C. The project started nearly 10 years ago with the goal of creating a compact village of about 30 homes around a community center that’s integrated into the natural world.
“This is not really retirement but more like a work rearrangement,” Weston says.
Also retiring this year is Barry Beedle, professor of exercise science, and Betty Morgan, associate professor of political science.