Elon’s 2019 faculty retirees recognized

At the annual Faculty/Staff Awards Luncheon on May 15, the Elon community honored 11 faculty members and six staff members who are retiring this year.

Seventeen retiring faculty and staff members were recognized May 15 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:

Bill Burpitt
Professor of Management

​Bill Burpitt began teaching at Elon in 2002. Asked what brought him to the university, Burpitt explains that his wife was teaching at Meredith College in Raleigh, and he wanted a position that would allow them to live and work in the same area. During his time at Elon, Burpitt has served as the associate dean of the school of business as well as a professor of management.

Burpitt says what he will miss most is teaching a Business Strategy course to Business Fellows. After Burpitt retires he plans to spend more time in Georgia, taking long walks, doing yard work and taking time for hobbies like boating and carpentry.


Brian Digre
Professor of History

Brian Digre arrived at Elon in 1990 to teach history, a choice that was the start of a 29-year career at the university.

Along with teaching history, Digre has served as the coordinator of the international studies major, and was project director for U.S. Department of Education grants that were used to develop an International Studies major and African American and African studies program at the university, as well as a Middle East and Arabic Studies program.

Digre also served as chair of Academic Council from 1997 through 1998.

Digre lists as a favorite memory being presented the opportunity to lead a Winter Term class to Ghana, a study abroad course he would go on to lead for 21 years. The Winter Term study abroad program offered him the chance to introduce students to the country and the many friends he made there through the years.

In retirement, Digre plans to read, travel and relax.


Dianne Ford
Coordinator of Library Electronic Resources

After finishing her master’s in library science at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro in 2002, Dianne Ford came to work at Elon. Originally trained as a biologist before pursuing library science, Ford retires from Elon as coordinator of library electronic resources and an associate librarian.

During her career at Elon, her roles have changed dramatically. She began working at Belk Library as a coordinator of serials and government documents, a collection that at the time was largely made up of print resources. She worked with mostly print collections until she became the coordinator of library electronic resources, which allowed her to work with scholarly books and journals that had now moved to an online format. She’s used her training as a biologist to serve as liaison librarian to Elon’s life science and health science departments.

Ford says she will miss her many library colleagues and friends at Elon, she said she still plans to attend cultural events taking place on campus. “I’ll miss the energizing learning environment at Elon, but plan to stay busy with new challenges and learning opportunities on my own,” Ford says. “You may see me in class at Elon!”

In the future, she wants to get more involved in different projects. “I’m very involved in big projects in my village of Saxapahaw, serving on the board of Hawbridge School and exploring a new community garden,” Ford says. “I’m looking forward to projects with Burlington-Alamance Sister Cities and with the library at North Carolina Botanical Garden.”

She will also be gardening and hiking and hopes to volunteer at national and state parks.

Margaret Kantlehner
Associate Professor of Law

Margaret Kantlehner was recruited by founding Elon Law Dean Leary Davis to join the law school start-up team and served as the associate dean for external relations. She started her work at Elon Law in January 2006, before the new law school’s building renovations were complete.

During her time at Elon Law, Kantlehner also served as the director of externships, a senior fellow faculty of law and an associate professor of law. “I love running into law school alumni at bar association meetings and continuing legal education seminars around the state, reminiscing and catching up on their lives since law school, hearing about the growth of their families, their law practices, their community engagement, their challenges and their successes,” Kantlehner says.

After retiring, Kantlehner hopes to travel with her husband, organize her garden, make are and continue to use her law license in positive ways.


Susan Manring
Associate Professor of Management

Susan Manring retires as an associate professor emerita in management, having come to Elon in 1996. At that time, she had recently moved to the area from Ohio, and found Elon after deciding that she wanted to start teaching again after a career as a consultant. “Elon was the ideal school for me,” she says.

During her tenure at Elon, she has served as the chair for the Department of Management, the university faculty ombudsperson and a faculty sustainability scholar. She was a senior faculty fellow in the Department of Management and was the Love School of Business coordinator for the UN-PRIME Initiative.

“I will miss faculty and staff colleagues and the excitement of having very interesting discussions with students who bring different perspectives from their majors and disciplines across campus,” Manring says.

This summer she will be traveling to London, Scotland and Nantucket and looking further into the future, plans to become newly involved in politics, particularly heading into the 2020 elections.


David Powell
Professor of Computing Sciences and Business Administration

David Powell arrived at Elon in 2001 to teach computer science and begin a long and fruitful time at the university. Powell said he was drawn by the chance to teach to “outstanding undergraduate students.” He started at Elon as the chair of the computer science department, a position he held until 2010.

Powell has had the opportunity to be on the subcommittee chair of the NCAA Self Study for Governance and Compliance and a three-time member of the academic technology and computing committee. He also served as a two-time member of the Elon Honor Board Committee, a two-time chair of the university committee to review academic support for athletics and chaired the university task force to determine the feasibility of a five-year engineering program at Elon.

Powell says he will miss “the fantastic cooperative and committed Elon University work environment of faculty and staff totally focused on the success of the Elon student.” He will also miss the leadership that he has seen at Elon, such as President Connie Ledoux Book, President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert, Provost Steven House and Gerald Whittington, senior vice president for business, finance and technology.

After retiring, Powell plans to travel and spend some leisure time with his wife.


Linda Sabo
Associate Professor of Performing Arts

Linda Sabo arrived at Elon in 1999 having already been part of a successful music theatre program at Syracuse University earlier in her career, and during the next two decades would work to make Elon’s program the premiere program it is today. Sabo came to Elon from Iowa, saying that “we wanted to move back East, and I was impressed with the singing talent I heard during my interview at Elon. I also felt at home during that time with the small, friendly faculty in performing arts.”

Sabo retires as an associate professor of performing arts, having served as a dance professor, director and choreographer within the university’s musical theatre program.

What Sabo will miss most of all are the students she has had the chance to know and create art with in her two decades at Elon. “I will miss working with our smart, kind and talented performing arts majors,” Sabo says. “I will miss teaching each new freshman musical theatre dance class and bonding with them; and each sophomore musical theatre history class and getting to know them better as people, students and artists. I will miss working with them all in musical productions and creating new art works with them. I will miss watching them develop from talented youngsters into mature, competitive performing artists. I will miss hugs in the hallway and laughing so much with them. I will miss each one touching my life and becoming my friend.”

After leaving this year, Sabo plans to publish a book and to spend more time with family and friends. She is looking forward to having time to travel, read and write. “Oh, I will love having time to read!” she says.

Michael Sanford
Professor of Art

Professor of Art Michael Sanford arrived at Elon in 1988 and has seen the university’s arts program through a period of growth. He says he and his colleagues were “charged with providing the initiative, creativity and collaborative problem-solving to plant the seeds for solid growth and development,” which has guided him during the past 31 years.

“It became immediately evident that the university was committed to growing the visual and performing arts,” Sanford said. “The art program enjoyed all of the essential ingredients to begin an exciting and dynamic period of change: a new facility, a new gallery to begin an exhibition program, administrative support, and student interest.”

While at Elon Sanford has also served chair of the Department of Art, exhibition coordinator and was the first person to serve as faculty ombudsperson.

Sanford will miss working with students, whether in the classroom or on a study-abroad experience. “It is truly a joy to witness the transformative power of learning and self-discovery,” Sanford says. “There’s nothing more rewarding than to be a partner in that journey.”

His retirement plans include spending time with friends and family, creating art, working on his house and garden and playing golf. He will also enjoy the absence of deadlines in the future.

Donna Van Bodegraven
Associate Professor of Spanish

Donna Van Bodegraven came to Elon in 1999 to teach Spanish, leaving a tenured position at Central College in Pella, Iowa, to join the faculty at the university. Now 20 years later she retires as an associate professor in the Department of World Languages and Cultures.

During her time at Elon, Van Bodegraven served as chair and associate chair of the department and was the coordinator for the Latin American Studies minor from 2009 to 2014. She was also a faculty fellow for global education in the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center and also served as the language assessment coordinator for the university.

When asked about her favorite memory, two instances stick out in her mind, and reflect her two loves — music theatre and sports. She points to Elon’s production of the musical “Phantom of the Opera” and seeing the women’s basketball team win its first CAA championship in 2017.

After Van Bodegraven retires from Elon, she plans to “sleep, travel, read, volunteer, attend sporting events and cultural events at Elon — and drink lots of coffee!”

Also retiring this year are Peter Hoffman, professor of law and director of the Skills Program at Elon Law, and Resa Walch, senior lecturer in wellness.