Four awarded Elon Medallions, the university’s highest honor

Elon President Connie Ledoux Book presented the medallion to two retired faculty members and two steadfast supporters of the university during an event marking the start of a new academic year. The university also recognized four named professorships during the event. 

Two retired faculty members and a couple known for their philanthropy and steadfast support of Elon University were honored for their years of service and generosity on Monday with the presentation of the Elon Medallion, the university’s highest honor. The medallions were awarded by President Connie Ledoux Book at the start of the annual faculty/staff planning week that marks the beginning of the academic year.

The university also recognized four members of the faculty who were selected for named professorships from a variety of disciplines based on their scholarship, teaching, mentorship and service.

Elon Medallions

Receiving Elon Medallions were: Deborah Long, professor emerita of education and founding director of the Elon Academy, James and Jo Anne Maynard, local business and civic leaders and philanthropists; and Helen Walton, instructor emerita of mathematics.

Deborah Thurlow Long

For two decades, Deborah Long served Elon University and the surrounding Alamance County community as an educator and founding director of the Elon Academy before she retired in 2016 as professor emerita of education.

Long served as a member of the National Teacher Corps and an elementary school teacher in Durham City Public Schools before she came to Elon in 1996 to join the faculty of the School of Education. It was those earlier experiences in the classroom that fueled her desire to work with disadvantaged students. As a leader in the School of Education, she serves as chair of the Education Department and coordinator of the elementary education program before later being selected as interim dean. 

It was in 2006 that Long stepped into a key role that would help pave the way for the creation of the Elon Academy. Following the threatened closure of an underperforming high school close to Elon’s campus, then-President Leo M. Lambert appointed Long as a faculty administrative fellow and assistant to the president to consider ways to help. She began thinking creatively about how Elon could help make college possible for promising students with significant financial need or no family history of college.

With the generous support of donors and Long’s guiding hand, the Elon Academy opened a year later and has since helped more than 250 Alamance County students pursue college degrees.

In 2012, Long was honored with Elon’s Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility for her work in making the Elon Academy a national model for access and success. Long has been a consistent donor to the Elon Academy and together with her siblings established the Barbara C. Thurlow Education Scholarship in honor of their mother.

Long earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Colby College, her master’s degree in elementary education from Virginia State University and her doctorate in curriculum, instruction and educational leadership from the University of Memphis.

Helen Flynn Walton

With her enthusiasm, intelligence and enduring commitment, Helen Walton played a key role in elevating the Elon Department of Mathematics to new levels of academic quality and national recognition during her 32 years as an instructor.

She joined the Elon faculty in 1984 and went on to distinguish herself by teaching numerous sections of algebra and statistics to students who struggled with mathematics. Throughout her years as an instructor, she demonstrated a remarkable ability to connect with students and help them discover their unique learning styles.

A leader within her department, she helped bring a chapter of the national mathematics honor society, Pi Mu Epsilon, to Elon in 2003 and for nearly two decades served as the sole writer and editor of the departmental newsletter, a publication that has successfully kept alumni connected to their faculty mentors and to Elon.

Walton was selected by Provost Steven House and Distinguished University Professor Russell Gill to lead Elon’s successful effort to shelter a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, which signifies the highest standards of excellence in arts and sciences. With diligence and attention to detail, Walton worked to ensure that Elon was able to present a portfolio of materials to Phi Beta Kappa that has been lauded as a national model.

Thanks to her monumental effort, Elon’s Eta Chapter of North Carolina was installed on April 13, 2010, and dozens of outstanding students join its ranks each year.

Walton would serve with distinction as secretary/treasurer and historian of Elon’s chapter, establishing the procedures for inducting new members, planning speaker visits and keeping chapter records.

Her deep institutional knowledge and writing talents were essential in rewriting the faculty handbook and crafting Elon’s SACS reaccreditation report in 2012, an effort that resulted in SACS offering no recommendations for improvement for the first time in the university’s history.

James W. and Jo Anne A. Maynard

For more than three decades, James and Jo Anne have been ardent advocates and supporters of Elon, demonstrating the power of education and inspired philanthropy to prepare the next generation of leaders.

Jim Maynard was first elected to Elon’s board of trustees in 1985 and used his business knowledge and leadership skills in service on the board for nearly three decades. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard Business, Maynard was the president of Tower Mills Inc., the former hosiery manufacturing business launched by his father, former Elon trustee Reid Maynard, and was a valuable and respected business leader.

For helping guide Elon during a period of transition and growth and for the contributions he made during the course of his business career, Maynard received Elon’s Frank S. Holt Jr. Business Leadership Award and in 2014 was elected life trustee to the university.

Following the death of his parents, Reid and Grace Maynard, Maynard and his siblings played an instrumental role in donating their family’s stately two-story Georgian home, Maynard House, to the university in 1988 to serve as the residence of the university’s president. Maynard House has played a central role in the life of the university as the location of receptions and dinners for thousands of students, faculty, staff and guests, including world leaders and other dignitaries.

Joie Maynard, a graduate of Stanford University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, enjoyed a successful career as a teacher. Building upon her belief in community engagement, she served on the boards of Front Street United Methodist Church and the N.C. Museum of History Associates, served on the editorial staff of the History of Alamance County Legacy Book Committee for the Alamance County Historical Museum and was a director and the first president of Alamance Country Club.

The Maynards are among Elon’s most generous benefactors, having made gifts to support Rhodes Stadium, the Ernest A. Koury Sr. Business Center and the Elon Academy. They endowed a Business Fellows scholarship in memory of Reid and Grace Maynard and a Teaching Fellows scholarship in memory of Joie Maynard’s parents, Dr. John H. and Jane Albers.

Named Professorships

Selected for named professorships this year are, from left, David Levine, Jen Dabrowski, Cynthia Fair and Tom Mould.

Monday’s event included an opportunity to recognize these Elon faculty members who have been named this year to named professorships.

Professor of Public Health Studies and Human Service Studies Cynthia Fair has been named the Watts-Thompson Professor, an endowed professorship that is designated for the promotion of quality teaching and instruction.

Professor of Anthropology Tom Mould has been named the J. Earl Danieley Distinguished Professor, a position created by the Elon University Board of Trustees in 1997 to honor 50 years of the service by the late J. Earl Danieley, the university’s sixth president. The professorship is awarded to an outstanding professor in any field.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jen Dabrowski has been named the A.L. Hook Emerging Scholar in Science & Mathematics, which is awarded to a member of the faculty who has ongoing, active scholarship, has a history of mentoring undergraduate research and has demonstrated the ability to impact students, their department and the university.

Associate Professor of Law David Levine has been named the Jennings Professor and Emerging Scholar of Law, which recognizes and supports the work of a law school faculty member with fewer than 15 years in the profession who has shown extraordinary promise as a teacher and a scholar.

Additionally, President Connie Ledoux Book announced that the Board of Trustees has named three residence halls in the Global Neighborhood in honor of:

  • Professor Emeritus of English Russ Gill,
  • Vice President of Student Life Emeritus Smith Jackson, and
  • Vice President of Advancement Emeritus Nan Perkins.

The Board has also named a suite in Inman Admissions Welcome Center for Vice President Emerita of Admissions Susan Klopman. A celebration of the Global Neighborhood namings will be held on Oct. 9 and a celebration of the Inman naming will be held on Nov. 26 at 4 p.m. More details will follow.