At the annual Faculty/Staff Awards Luncheon on May 11, the Elon community honored faculty and staff members who are retiring this year.
Retiring faculty and staff members were recognized on May 11 for their contributions and service to Elon at the annual Faculty/Staff Awards Luncheon in Alumni Gym.
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 in 2021-22 are:
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Education
Ren Bryan was teaching in the Alamance Burlington School System and serving as a technology trainer with the North Carolina Teacher Academy when she first arrived at Elon as a graduate student pursuing her master’s degree in education in exceptional children.
After earning her graduate degree and earning additional licensure in instructional technology, Bryan started teaching at Elon as an adjunct instructor in the School of Education as well as CIS, teaching Computers in Teaching and Learning and Meeting Special Learning Needs in the Regular Classroom. During the past 25 years, she has taught numerous courses and held a variety of positions in the school including instructor, assistant professor, secondary social studies coordinator and director of gifted education.
“Having lived most of my life near the campus, I have many memories of the growth of the school, both physically and academically,” Bryan says.
She expects to continue to be involved with Elon in retirement, with plans to continue enjoying and supporting campus athletic events and fine arts performances.
Adjunct Instructor in Political Science and Policy Studies
Jeff Colbert taught his first class at Elon during the spring semester of 1990 as a part-time instructor and has been an adjunct faculty member for the past 32 years. He says he’ll miss the students, the campus, but most of all, his colleagues in the Department of Political Science and Policy Studies.
“From the very beginning, they never treated me as an adjunct — I was a member of the department,” Colbert says. “I was almost always included in decisions and always treated as a valued member of the department. I was plugged in enough on campus to know that was not true in every department.”
An alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and faculty member there as well, Colbert plans to continue teaching there following his retirement from Elon.
Associate Professor of English
Barbara Gordon joined Elon in 1986 because the institution fostered ideals that aligned with her values and was sold on Elon’s devotion to student learning.
During her time at Elon, Gordon founded the Writing Center on campus, serving twice as the director of the center. Gordon said she greatly appreciates the extent to which Elon encourages faculty to learn and grow through teaching abroad and leading CORE courses. What she will miss most are the students who are poised to learn and “laugh heartily.”
Gordon plans to use her newfound free time following her retirement to “take better care of myself and others, to write essays, to read more widely, to take tennis lessons, to look out at the Mediterranean Sea with hopes of speaking Italian to the person next to me, to wander in the North Carolina mountains, to muse, meditate and wonder.”
Professor of Psychology
Tom Green arrived at Elon during the fall semester of 1990. During his 32 years at Elon, Green has served as chair of the Psychology Department, founder and advisor of Elon’s chapter of Psi Chi, chair of the Academic Council, and president and vice president of Elon’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).
“I will greatly miss teaching our students the fundamentals of research methods, and working with my dedicated colleagues to promote shared governance through our work on Academic Council and Elon’s chapter of the AAUP,” Green said.
After his retirement following the spring semester, Green plans to spend more time with his spouse, Catherine McNeela, whom he met at a fall picnic during his first year at Elon.
Lecturer in Wellness
Bryan Hedrick came to Elon in the fall of 2004 to teach the Contemporary Wellness Issues course. Hedrick’s reason for leaving the University of North Florida in favor of Elon was because he wanted the experience of teaching at a private university.
Since 2004, Hedrick has served as lecturer and coordinator for the Physical Activity Program in the School of Education and taught 13 different courses. “I will miss seeing students have ‘aha’ moments when they discover something new that they embrace,” Hedrick said.
Set to retire after the Spring 2022 semester, his plans consist of “golf, golf and more golf!”
Visiting Lecturer in Sociology
Laurin Kier joined Elon in 1997 and says participating in 13 Winter Terms and two full semesters of study abroad courses are the opportunities she will look back on most fondly. But in more than 25 years at Elon, it’s hard for her to narrow down one thing she’ll miss the most.
Receiving a full-time position in 1998, Kier has served as coordinator and director of Tutorial Services as well as Assistant Professor of Sociology. In the coming months after retirement, Kier plans to get married on June 17, read a novel without guilt and travel the country. She also plans to return to adjunct teaching in the future.
Senior Lecturer in Computer Science
Michele Kleckner started teaching at Elon in 1999 after one year at Miami University in Ohio. In 20-plus years at Elon, Kleckner has been an instructor, lecturer and senior lecturer in the Department of Computer Science. She has also led study abroad trips and served as a Faculty Fellow for Sustainability.
“I will miss the people the most. I have interacted with people in my various roles at Elon … I have really enjoyed working with faculty and staff across the university and have made many friends along the way.”
Kleckner plans to buy a campervan and travel following her May retirement.
Senior Lecturer in Mathematics
Teaching at Guilford Technical Community College, Jan Mays was looking for a place that would “encourage and support” her growth as a math instructor. Mays taught a class at Elon as an adjunct in 2002 and by 2003 had become a full-time lecturer.
“Elon has given me opportunities to grow my teaching and share what I have learned with others,” Mays said.
In her 20 years at Elon, Mays has served as the first-year statistics coordinator and chair of the Core Curriculum committee in addition to being a senior lecturer. Most recently, Mays was the coordinator for the secondary mathematics licensure program.
Working with pre-service teachers and preparing them for working with their future students is what Mays will miss the most about Elon. “I am passionate about math education and I still keep in touch with many of my students who work in education.”
After retirement, Mays plans to spend time with her two grandchildren, aged five and seven, as well as garden, hike and continue to learn about the world around her.
Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology
Janet MacFall came to Elon in the fall of 1996 after being a member of the faculty at Duke University. She arrived to become the first coordinator of the interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program at Elon and was tasked with crafting and founding the program within the Department of Biology. She took the lead in 2008 in the program’s evolution into the university’s first interdisciplinary academic department.
She has held a variety of roles beyond those as a professor, including the first chair of the Department of Environmental Studies, the founding director of the Elon University Center for Environmental Studies, the founding adviser for the Sustainability Living & Learning Community and the founding coordinator of the Elon Faculty Sustainability Scholars Program.
“I will most miss working with my Elon students, in research and as teaching assistants,” MacFall says. “Their energy, enthusiasm, willingness to jump into rivers for soil samples, drive around N.C. taking soil samples from beside railroads, doing careful laboratory analysis and being ambassadors for Environmental Studies has been inspiring.”
In retirement, MacFall plans to continue her work with environmentally focused non-profits like the Cape Fear River Assembly, the Haw River Assembly and the Piedmont Conservation Council. She’ll also be spending time riding her horse, relaxing at Caswell Beach, visiting daughters and grandchildren, and making cheese.
William S. Long Professor and Professor of Performing Arts
Cathy McNeela came to Elon from New York City in 1990. “It was August and I was in the Finger Lakes playing Meg in ‘Crimes of the Heart’ and former Dean of Arts and Humanities Clair Myers called me and asked me if I was interested in coming to Elon to create a BFA in Music Theatre,” McNeela says. “At first, I thought ‘no’ but every actor at rehearsal that night told me to fly down for the interview, get the job and then hire them!”
Three weeks later, she was moving from the Upper West Side to Elon, where she would remain for more than three decades. She has served as the William S. Long professor since 2010 and as chair of the Department of Performing Arts. She is the founder of the BFA program in Music Theatre, founder of the vocal jazz ensemble élan, and founded the Grand Night and Collage music theatre revues. She’s a recipient of the Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching and an anonymous gift created the Catherine H. McNeela Endowed Scholarship.
“I will miss teaching Performance in Music Theatre and guiding our students toward creating truthful and personal performances,” McNeela says. “I will miss telling stories through music and dance on the McCrary Theatre stage. Stories like ‘Ragtime,’ ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ ‘The Secret Garden,’ ‘Children of Eden,’ ‘Sweeney Todd’ and so many more.”
In the time ahead she plans to raise butterflies in her native garden, read all the books she never had time to read, and enjoy the passage of time with her life partner, Tom Green, and Stanley Kowalski McNeela Green, their West Highland Terrier.
Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies
Laura Roselle was interested in teaching at a smaller institution that valued undergraduate teaching and would allow her the opportunity to explore her diverse scholarly interests when she arrived at Elon in August 1993.
Her career at Elon has seen her move from being an assistant professor at her start to being a full professor. She has served as a Senior Faculty Fellow at Elon and has been the director of the Turnage Family Faculty Innovation and Creativity Fund for the Study of Political Communication. She is the author of six books and multiple articles, and was recognized in 2017 by the International Studies Association as a Distinguished Scholar.
The Department of Political Science and Policy Studies created the Laura Roselle Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring in her honor and presented her with the award in 2018. Elon presented her with the Distinguished Scholar Award in 2009.
“I will miss students and my colleagues in the Department of Political Science and Policy Studies,” Roselle says.
After retiring from Elon, Roselle plans to spend more time writing, coaching and consulting on how personal stories can be used to enhance resilience, generosity and power.
Associate Professor of Journalism
Following an accomplished career in journalism that included receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, Michael Skube came to Elon in 2002 after serving as a visiting professor at Indiana University-Bloomington. He has served as an assistant professor and associate professor during his time at the university.
“It probably sounds clichéd, but I can honestly say I will miss being in the classroom with students, especially in Politics & Media,” Skube says. “The pandemic, and its attendant masks, severely impaired that experience, but I nonetheless will remember it and miss it, as I will certain students who were in one way or another genuinely special.”
After retiring from Elon, Skube plans to write more than he has lately. “I’ve missed that — and I don’t want that lifelong impulse to wither and die. But there is also so much I want to read,” Skube says. “Most of that would involve 20th-century European history in general and the rise of fascism in particular.” He is also considering pursuing a doctorate in history that could allow him to perform more concentrated research in the area.
Associate Professor of Sport Management
After serving at a variety of colleges and universities, Hal Walker arrived at Elon in 2002.
“We decided on one more permanent move, and found our gem in Elon University,” Walker says. ” I was familiar with Elon from my earlier time in NC, and had read about it being a ‘diamond in the rough’ in the early 2000s and a school ‘on the rise.’ Elon turned out to be the perfect place to complete my career.”
At Elon, he has cherished the students, faculty and staff he has known and worked alongside. He’s appreciative for the “tremendous support of an administration that seemed to rarely say ‘no’ – providing endless support for ideas that supported program & student development.”
Walker retired in December and is now living in Sunset Beach, N.C., where he is building a home. He’ll continue to do some consulting with program development and is serving as an accreditation team member with the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation.
Other retiring faculty recognized during the May 11 ceremony were: Associate Professor of Art Anne Simpson and Senior Lecturer in Accounting Paula Weller.
An article recognizing Elon staff members who are retiring this year will be published on Today at Elon on Friday, May 27, following the Staff Appreciation Day event.