Bench dedicated in memory of faculty member Julie Justice

The memory of Julie Justice will live on at Elon through a newly dedicated bench that will serve as a reminder of her life and contributions to the campus community and the world of education.

Family, friends, students and colleagues gathered outside Mooney Building, home to Elon’s School of Education, on Tuesday to remember a faculty member who touched many lives on campus through her work in that building.

Family members listen to University Chaplain Jan Fuller, who blessed the bench during the dedication ceremony. (photo by Kim Walker)

The group took time to remember the life and contributions of Julie Justice, an assistant professor of education at Elon who passed on Feb. 26. after a prolonged illness. The crowd of loved ones took time to remember Justice while dedicating a bench in her honor that will sit outside the building in which she spent the past six years making an impact on the campus community.

Following an introduction and blessing by University Chaplain Jan Fuller, Justice’s family and friends took turns, one by one, touching the bench in a show of respect and acknowledgment of all that she meant to them.

“She advocated for this school every second she breathed,” said Justice’s mother, Carole Ellison, who traveled along with family from Texas to attend Tuesday’s dedication. “It’s just really fantastic that Elon would do something like this for her.”

Carole Ellison, mother of Julie Justice, touches the bench donning her daughter’s name. (Photo: Kim Walker)

Positioned next to the bench is another nod to Justice, who loved to read and focused her scholarship on literacy development and literacy education policy. In Justice’s memory, the School of Education spearheaded the installation of a Little Free Library, nationally registered in her name, beside the bench. Filled with children’s books like the ones she would often read to her students, the small library is labeled with Justice’s name and her commonly used Twitter hashtag #ThisIsWhatLearningToReadLooksLike. Those who knew her well say the bench and library are perfect representations of Justice’s passion for education and Elon.

“She’s touched Elon in so many ways,” said Ann Bullock, dean of the School of Education and professor of education. “Julie was a person who made everyone feel special, so students resonated with that. She would listen to them and try to motivate them to be better teachers and better educators.”

Justice traveled with Elon students to work with school children in Malawi in 2016. 

Justice joined the Elon faculty in 2014 after serving six years as assistant professor of literacy education at UNC-Chapel Hill and spent four years as an instructor at the Vanderbilt University Peabody School of Education before that. Justice also served one year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and six years as a middle school language arts teacher in Southport, North Carolina.

From 2015 to 2018 Justice served as faculty director for the Oaks Neighborhood, a role that saw her living on campus and working diligently to enhance the residential experience for Elon students. She received the Faculty Engagement Award by the Office of Residence Life in May 2018 for her outstanding contributions as faculty director.

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In February, the Elon community, as well as Justice’s friends and former colleagues celebrated her life during a gathering of friends inside the Sacred Space of the Truitt Center. They shared stories and fond memories of the faculty member and friend who cared so much about each of them. Tuesday’s dedication gave the community another opportunity to honor Justice’s memory as the bench became a lasting fixture at Elon.

“It’s so lovely to see how much people cared about her on the Elon campus,” said Justice’s sister, Jennifer Jones. “To see all of the lives she’s changed and to see all of the things she’s done and that somebody is actually acknowledging and representing that in a long-term, permanent way is just amazing.”