13 projects awarded grants from Elon’s Fund for Excellence in the Arts & Sciences

The projects and programs span disciplines and include opportunities for community engagement, cross-cultural dialogue and interaction with Elon alumni.

Thirteen projects envisioned by Elon faculty, staff and students were awarded grants from Elon University’s Fund for Excellence in the Arts and Sciences and will enhance student experiences in the 2024-25 academic year.

The events, initiatives and workshops funded through Fund For Excellence mini grants will strengthen community outreach, promote deeper understanding of historical and contemporary issues, and support scholarship or enhance existing programs.

The Fund for Excellence advances Elon University’s mission by supporting projects and programs that deepen the values, intellectual community, research, teaching and ways of thinking that are characteristic of the liberal arts and sciences. Faculty, staff and students are eligible to apply for funding, and proposals can be departmental or organizational, as well as interdisciplinary or collaborative across departments, schools and other campus entities.

“The purpose of the Fund for Excellence in the Liberal Arts and Sciences is to support projects that enhance student opportunities to engage with academic exploration, to deepen knowledge in the arts and sciences, and to broaden their perspectives as they prepare to become global citizens. These initiatives meet that mission,” said Nancy Harris, associate dean of Elon College and professor of biology, who coordinates the fund through the Elon College Dean’s Office. “The variety, scope and number of proposals submitted this year reflect the collaborative and innovative approaches to the liberal arts and sciences across Elon University’s faculty, staff and students.”

A record 16 proposals were submitted in spring 2024. Each year, recipients are selected by a committee appointed by the president of Elon’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. This year’s committee members were Harris; Heather Lindenman, associate professor of English; Patricia Perkins, associate professor of law; Shannon Tennant, coordinator of library collections and associate librarian; and Karen Yokley, professor of mathematics.

Projects awarded funding for 2024-25 included:

STEM Saturday at Elon

An outreach program for students in the Alamance-Burlington School System to explore studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at Elon. The event is led by students in Elon’s STEM clubs.

  • Submitted by Anthony Rizutto, associate professor of chemistry, and Ahlam Armaly, assistant professor of chemistry.

Making the Invisible Visible: German-Jewish Migration from Nazi Germany to Latin America

Brings scholar Bjorn Siegel, a researcher at the Institute for the History of the German Jews in Hamburg, to Elon to meet with Elon classes and deliver his presentation, “Making the Invisible Visible: German-Jewish Migration from Nazi Germany to Latin America,” aligning with curricula in the Latin American Studies, Jewish Studies, International and Global Studies and Museum Studies and Public History programs.

  • Submitted by Andrea Sinn, associate professor of history, and Juan Leal Ugalde, assistant professor of Spanish.

Creative Approaches to Complex Pasts

This project will create a dance film based on one of 10 episodes in Elon University’s 2020 Report from the Committee on Elon History and Memory. Assistant Professor of Dance Keshia Wall will choreograph and direct the film. The spring 2025 screening will be accompanied by a panel discussion including partners and community members.

  • Submitted by Keshia Wall, assistant professor of dance; Buffie Longmire-Avital, professor of psychology, faculty administrative fellow, and director of the Black Lumen Project; Evan Gatti, professor of art history; and Amanda Laury Kleintop, assistant professor of history.

African Diasporas in North Carolina: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Understanding the History & Legacies of Enslavement

Provides three opportunities for the Elon community to engage with the history of slavery and the African diaspora in North Carolina during Winter Term. Those include a screening and panel discussion of the documentary “Talking Black in America: Roots,” and visits to the Stagville State Historic Site and Burlington’s African American Cultural Arts and History Center.

  • Submitted by Amanda Laury Kleintop, assistant professor of history; Archie Crowley, assistant professor of English; Erin Pearson, assistant professor of English; Keshia Wall, assistant professor of dance; Devin Proctor, assistant professor of anthropology.

Cinematic Bridges

In association with the Global Film and Cultures Minor, this project will bring two international films to campus for discussion; invite screenwriter, filmmaker and co-creator of the Slamdance Film Festival, Dan Mirvish, to Elon as a guest speaker; and include a pre-recorded interview with Phylicia Pearl Mpasi ’15, a star of “The Color Purple,” to accompany that film’s screening.

Equipping the EcoVillage LLC

This project will provide workshops and guest speakers to lead events at the EcoVillage in its first year, including topics in Afro-Caribbean herbalism, nature drawing and environmental justice.

  • Submitted by Jacob Rutz, lecturer in environmental studies; Michael Strickland, lecturer in English and environmental studies; and Ashley Hollan, visiting assistant professor in arts administration.

Alumni Voices: Conversations with Political Insiders on the 2024 Election

This series of events will bring alumni to campus who are working in policy, politics and journalism ahead of the November elections. They include an investigative reporter covering campaign fraud, an advance manager for a governor and a state political director for a presidential campaign who will share their experiences with campus audiences.

Engineering Takes Center Stage: Bridging the Arts and Sciences

An interdisciplinary project between Elon’s Departments of Engineering and Department of Performing Arts for engineering students to program the choreography and design artificial fur for two robot dogs that will perform in scenes of “Legally Blonde: The Musical.”

  • Submitted by Courtney Liu, assistant professor of music theatre, and Blake Hament, assistant professor of engineering.

Celebration and Appreciation of Holi

Elon’s Periclean Scholars will enhance the annual Holi event hosted by the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life in March 2025 by adding traditional music, dance, decoration, Indian food, and cultural crafts like henna.

  • Submitted by the Periclean Class of 2026

Stories Beyond Borders

Lula Carballo, a Québécois author of Spanish American descent and Emilie Guerette, a Québécois film director, will visit Elon for guest lectures, readings and a film screening. Their appearances will provide students’ deeper understanding of issues around immigration from their lived experiences and creative works.

Climate, Communities and Conversations

Expands the Highway 64 Project, which covers communities across the state, to include issues of climate change and resiliency in North Carolina. It also would connect Elon to communities by hosting virtual roundtable discussions and bringing expert speakers to campus for workshops and lectures.

  • Submitted by Michael Strickland, lecturer in English and environmental studies.

Campus Sustainability Week Keynote Speaker

This initiative brings attorney and author Corban Addison to Elon and Elon Law as the keynote speaker of Campus Sustainability Week and to meet with students, faculty and staff. Addison is the author of the international bestseller, “Wastelands: The True Story of Farm Country on Trial,” which tells the story of an eastern North Carolina community’s legal battle for environmental justice against a company in the hog industry.

  • Submitted by Kelly Harer, associate director of sustainability for education and outreach, and Eric Townsend, assistant vice president for academic communications.

Analogue Experience in a Digital Age

Develops a philosophy and film course that integrates analog films and student filmmaking into an interdisciplinary study of philosophy. The course would culminate in a symposium and screening.

  • Submitted by Nathan L. Smith, adjunct assistant professor of philosophy, and Stephen Bloch-Schulman, professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy.