Elon recognizes faculty and staff for excellence with annual awards

These four awards recognize members of the Elon community for excellence in teaching, scholarship, civic engagement and mentoring.

Elon University recognized the excellence of members of the faculty and staff in their service to the university and the community at its annual awards program on Wednesday.

Elon faculty and staff members gathered in Schar Center for the event, which also included recognition of employees for years-of-service milestones and special recognitions of faculty and staff members who are retiring this academic year.

In her remarks, President Connie Ledoux Book highlighted achievements across campus this year and the community effort that went into ensuring a healthy, safe and engaging experience for students. “We can leave the worst of the pandemic behind and embrace the best of what we have learned,” Book said. “I want to thank you, each of you, for your commitment to building this environment that transformed students’ lives, for believing we can envision and build the best Elon together, for deepening the quality of our programs to benefit students and for caring so profoundly about each other and our students.”

Honored with awards from the university this year were Professor of Physical Therapy Education Janet Cope; Jessie Moore, director of the Center for Engaged Learning and professor of English; Mary Morrison, assistant dean of campus life and director of the Kernodle Center for Civic Life; and Kate Upton, associate professor of finance and director of the William Garrard Reed Finance Center.

Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching

Janet Cope, Professor of Physical Therapy Education

Viewed as a consummate teacher, scholar and mentor, Janet Cope has demonstrated excellence in the classroom and dedicated support for her students as she has educated them about human anatomy within Elon’s School of Health Sciences.

Cope is an anthropologist and clinical anatomist with expertise in skeletal pathology and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. She came to Elon in 2006, and has taught clinical and gross anatomy for more than 20 years to students from a wide variety of health care backgrounds. She is integral to the human donor anatomy lab, and played a leading role in the creation of Elon’s Anatomical gift program.

“Janet’s passion and enthusiasm for anatomical content combined with her reverence for the human donors who actively chose to serve as a ‘silent teacher’ is something her students rigorously strive to match,” said an Elon colleague in her nomination of Cope for the award.

In a letter supporting Cope’s nomination, a current student noted that her classes include a variety of riveting lectures, complementary projects, engaging review games and challenging exams. As a professor, Cope “has the ability to teach complex concepts to students not only in a way in which we can better understand, but also in a way we can apply it in the future.”

The student observed that in the anatomy lab, Cope focused not just on teaching the anatomical structures, but also instilling a deep respect for life, and for the human donors students are learning from. That includes a Donor Memorial Service that is part of the physical therapy education curriculum to honor those donors.

“She taught us to appreciate how different anatomical structures may have appeared a certain way based on the different life experiences of each individual donor,” the student wrote. “Dr. Cope taught us more than just anatomy in the lab — she taught us respect. Thanks to her efforts, I have honestly become a better-rounded student, physical therapist and person.”

An alumna of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program said Cope’s approach to teaching help put her at ease, particularly in the anatomy lab. “Her ‘don’t get caught in the weeds’ teaching mantra paired with her ability to easily explain challenging concepts not only helped me understand the complexities of human anatomy, it became a mantra that I’ve adopted and implemented throughout my entire graduate school career,” the former student wrote.

A current colleague pointed to the fact that Cope’s role as a teacher and mentor extends to her peers as well. “Not only did Dr. Cope encourage and mentor me prior to my serving on the full-time faculty, she has continued to support my research agenda using human donors in the anatomy lab and included me on survey research surrounding the ethics of anatomy lab education,” the colleague wrote.

Her teaching and academic work benefits those outside her department as well. Cope has partnered with the Physician Assistant Studies program to facilitate interdisciplinary skills that they will rely upon within health care settings. An innovator as a teacher, Cope uses ceiling-mounted cameras in the anatomy lab to create instructional videos, uses body painting to help students visualize underlying anatomical structures, and employs online electronic resources and projects to enhance student learning.

“Dr. Cope is a holistic educator, making sure that her curriculum allows for multiple learning styles and bringing details into the lab from practicing physical therapists, surgeons and other professionals,” one colleague wrote. “I cannot recommend Dr. Cope highly enough for receipt of this award. She truly is the embodiment of excellence in teaching for me.”

Cope is the 49th Elon faculty member to receive the award established by President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley ’46 and his wife, Verona Daniels Danieley, in honor of their parents.

Distinguished Scholar Award

Jessie Moore, Director of the Center for Engaged Learning and Professor of English

As a scholar, Jessie Moore has distinguished herself through the study of engaged learning, teaching and mentoring, with an impressive portfolio of scholarship that has in turn informed her own practices as a teacher and mentor. A professor of English and director of the Center for Engaged Learning since 2016, Moore is a leading scholar in the field of writing studies, particularly the transfer of writing knowledge and practice, and in the study of engaged learning in higher education.

Moore has researched the writing lives of students and alumni for more than a decade to better understand how writing courses and programs can support the development of students as writers. Additionally, Moore has studied how curricular revisions and other initiatives within writing programs can support students as they develop as writers.

Moore has planned, implemented and assessed the Center for Engaged Learning’s international, multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary research seminars that have brought together experts in the field to tackle engaged learning topics. Each three-year seminar identifies gaps in the research and utilizes a team-based approach with typically more than two-dozen participants resulting in publication of significant scholarly outcomes.

“As regular participants in many of the same national scholarly conversations, we know well how her superb work has shaped our field and how her scholarship is uniquely linked to her efforts to create new opportunities for college students as well as researchers and educators across the country,” a colleague from another institution wrote in recommending Moore for this award.

Since joining Elon, Moore has published three co-edited collections and 35 articles or chapters in peer-reviewed journals and edited collections. She has co-edited a special issue of a journal and has authored a book, “Key Practices for Fostering Engaged Learning,” that will publish in 2022. Moore has two additional co-edited collections now under contract and six additional articles or chapters that have been accepted for publication.

Moore began at Elon in 2004 as an assistant professor of English in the areas of professional writing and rhetoric. Moore was promoted to associate professor of English in 2010 and then became a full professor in 2018. Moore began her tenure with the Center for Engaged Learning in 2012 as associate director and became director in 2016. Along with planning and supporting the research seminars, Moore has planned and managed events including the “Integrating Global Learning with the University Experience” conference at Elon in 2017 and the “Residential Learning Communities as High-Impact Practice” conference in 2019.

An Elon colleague noted in her recommendation of Moore for the award that “it’s hard to overestimate the impact that Jessie’s writing transfer research over the past 16 years has had on the fields of writing studies, composition and rhetoric, professional writing, and education in general.”

The reach of her work is local, national and international, the colleague observed, and “her high-quality research output is staggering.”

A colleague from another institution and participant in one of the Center for Engaged Learning’s research seminars planned and supported by Moore notes that the experience has been “productive in all the best ways. … It’s a credit to Professor Moore and her colleagues that teams are on track, are submitting research for publication, and will present on this research at the hybrid conference the Center for Engaged Learning is hosting this summer.”

About her research, the colleague said that Moore “is adept at identifying an important field of inquiry, at contextualizing and synthesizing what we know in that field, at bringing international scholars together, at facilitating their research into that field of inquiry such that our knowledge is both increased and enhanced, and at sharing that knowledge widely.”

Moore is the 22nd recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award, which recognizes a faculty member whose research has earned peer commendation and respect and who has made significant contributions to his or her field of study.

Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility

Mary Morrison, Assistant Dean of Campus Life and Director of the Kernodle Center for Civic Life

As assistant dean of campus life and director of the Kernodle Center for Civic Life, Mary Morrison is the embodiment of the mission of Project Pericles – to raise the level of civic engagement and social responsibility of the entire campus community.

Since joining Elon in 2006, Morrison has led the Kernodle Center to become a national model for service-learning and civic engagement. With Morrison’s guidance and vision, Elon became one the nation’s first universities to receive the Carnegie Classification for Civic Engagement and regularly appears on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“I can think of no university leader who has done more to elevate that work at Elon and in our broader local and regional community than Mary Morrison,” wrote one of Morrison’s nominators.

Morrison has been the visionary behind the Kernodle Center’s ongoing growth over the past 15 years. When Morrison arrived in 2006, the Kernodle Center was a small office with a handful of student leaders. Today, the center is home to anywhere from 80 to 125 student leaders who plan, implement and evaluate the center’s operations each year. And, among seniors in the Class of 2020, 88 percent said they participated in service as part of their Elon experience.

“She is deeply committed to students and their search for meaning and purpose through civic engagement and shares how transformative this work can be with faculty, staff and community partners so everyone is able to see their influence and impact,” wrote one administrator.

Elon now works with more than 80 community partners and offers more than 60 Academic Service-Learning classes. These efforts have earned the university national recognition, as the past two years, Elon has been ranked #2 in the nation for institutions with excellent service-learning programs by U.S. News & World Report.

Morrison’s 15th year at Elon will mark the end of a decorate, 43-year career in education, public service and volunteer management, as she prepares for retirement in May. As a champion of service-learning, Morrison has worked across the state to promote its power, and for that reason, nominators say it would be difficult to find someone more deserving of the Periclean Award.

“Mary has inspired countless students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to think more deeply about their role in civic life and to engage in public action to help create a more just society,” wrote a group of nominators. “We are deeply in debt to her, and she serves as a shining light during this unique time in our history when the fragility of democracy has been exposed as we work towards a more equitable future.”

Morrison is the 19th recipient of the Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, which is given each year to a member of Elon’s faculty or staff whose community service exemplifies the ideals of Project Pericles.

Steven and Patricia House Excellence in Mentoring Award

Kate Upton, Associate Professor of Finance and Director of the William Garrard Reed Finance Center

Associate Professor of Finance Kate Upton has inspired countless students, alumni and fellow faculty through her dedication to the growth, success and well-being of students at Elon.

“Kate’s commitment to her students is found in every aspect of her work at Elon, both in and out of the classroom,” wrote colleagues in support of her nomination for the award. “An exceptional teacher, her courses reflect the Elon ideal of engaged learning.”

Upton has created and redesigned finance courses with students in mind. Each course focuses on preparing students for their specific careers but also helps them develop broader skills while teaching resilience and critical thinking. These courses speak to Upton’s commitment to the success and overall well-being of her students. Those who know or have learned from her say that commitment begins in the welcoming yet challenging environment she creates in the classroom.

“Dr. Upton not only made class and the subject enjoyable, but would spend countless hours after class with a line of students out her door and sitting on the floor just to review a few more problems and prepare for an exam,” wrote one former student. “I believe her students wanted to succeed because of the environment she fostered in class.”

Upton has also served as a mentor for student research, advising Honors theses, a Love Award for Excellence in Business Leadership winner, and independent research projects focused on gender bias, diversity and inclusion in business. These instances of mentorship have inspired some students in their career decisions.

“Her excitement for research has sparked my own interest in a career in academia,” said a 2018 graduate who worked with Upton to study gender bias in venture capital funding decisions.

Upton’s mentorship extends beyond the classroom. She has spent two years as director of the Reed Finance Center, transforming it into a hub for Elon finance majors. In her time as director, Upton has hosted mock interviews for students, invited speakers to campus, and also hosted career panels and other engaging events for the campus community.

Upton created and still advises Elon’s Women in Finance student club, which leads workshops and invites guest speakers to shed light on the male-dominated industry. Her dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion have made her a crucial role model to the students she’s taught.

In her nomination letter, one former student described herself as “very shy” upon beginning her first year at Elon. The 2018 graduate said Upton’s strength, passion and influence inspired her to find her voice. She credits Upton as the faculty member and mentor who inspired her to follow her dreams.

“Words cannot fully explain the impact she made on not only my years at Elon University but my entire life,” the nominator wrote. “The mentoring relationship that I developed with Dr. Upton while at Elon has shaped me into the individual I am today.”

Upton is the second person to be honored with the Steven and Patricia House Excellence in Mentoring Award. The award is supported by a gift from Executive Vice President Steven House and his wife, Patricia, to celebrate excellence in student mentoring, one of the markers of quality that has fueled Elon’s reputation as the national leader in engaged, experiential learning.