Cynthia Fair named Watts-Thompson Professor

Professor Cynthia Fair of the Department of Public Health Studies is renowned for her research into the changes in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

Professor Cynthia Fair, chair of the Department of Public Health Studies, has been named the Watts-Thompson Professor at Elon, an endowed chair that is designated for the promotion of quality teaching and instruction.

Fair joined the Elon faculty in 1999 in the Department of Human Service Studies and is a renowned researcher into changes in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. She played a leading role in the development of public health studies at Elon, with the field becoming a minor within human services studies and eventually expanded to become the Department of Public Health Studies in 2017, with Fair serving as its first chair.

As a faculty member, she has developed courses that serve Elon College Fellows, study abroad, human service studies, public health studies, the Core Curriculum and the Women’s, Gender & Sexualities Studies program. Her students frequently not her pedagogical style, approachability and the ability to challenge them to think critically.

A prolific scholar, Fair has authored or coauthored 14 publications during the past three years alone, with her work featured in journals including the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, Adoption Quarterly and the Journal of Social Services and HIV/AIDS. An active mentor to undergraduate researchers, she received the Elon College Faculty Excellence Award in Scholarship in 2014 and the university’s Distinguished Scholar Award in 2015.

As an active contributor to the growth of Elon as an institution, Fair has served on the Presidential Transition Committee, the Presidential Task Force on Social Climate, Promotion and Tenure committee, and the National Fellowships Advisory Committee.

Fair received a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and master’s degrees in social work and public health, along with a doctorate in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Watts-Thompson professorship was established by a bequest from James Eugene Watts, a 1928 graduate of Elon, and his wife, Thelma Thompson Watts. Watts, an Anson County, N.C., native, was one of eight siblings to attend Elon. Fair follows Pam Kiser, a professor of human service studies and Distinguished University Professor who retired this year, as the Watts-Thompson Professor.