Elon University named three faculty members to endowed professorships on Monday, Aug. 16 during the opening day ceremony officially beginning the 2021-22 academic year. 

“Being selected as the recipient of such a professorship is a high honor which indicates that the faculty member is respected for excellence in teaching, scholarship, mentoring students and service to the university,” President Connie Book said. 

Jen Hamel, an associate professor of biology, was honored with the Japheth E. Rawls Professorship for Undergraduate Research in Science. Hamel began as an associate professor of biology at Elon in 2014 and became an associate professor in 2020. 

Hamel’s research includes the political benefits of classroom-based research, the ecology and evolution of vibrational communication and the influence of community interactions on the evolution of behavior. She has also co-authored 12 research articles, four of which were co-authored by undergraduate students at Elon. 

“I want to thank Elon University for this opportunity and for supporting a culture that encourages and values undergraduate research,” Hamel said. 

Andrew Monteith, an assistant professor of religious studies, was named the Distinguished Emerging Scholar in Religious Studies, an award that recognizes and honors an Elon faculty member for excellence in scholarship . Monteith graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in history in 2006 and earned his PhD in religious studies from Indiana University in 2018.

Monteith’s research examines secularism in American life, and he is currently working on a book that examines the significance of religion in the early Drug War. 

“I feel very honored to receive this, I feel very lucky to have landed here at a university that values teaching and scholarship,” Monteith said. 

Kenn Gaither, a professor of strategic communications, received the A.J. Fletcher Professorship in Communications. Before arriving at Elon University in 2004, Gaither enjoyed a successful career in public relations.  

“I have the great pleasure of working in a constellation of stars in the School of Communications and I would like to thank the teachers, scholars and mentors and the faculty and staff in the School of Communications for pushing me to be better,” Gaither said. 

Additionally, Book recognized Kyle Wills, Elon University’s senior associate athletics director for business and operations, as the Administrative Staff Member of the Year. A class of 1981 Elon graduate, Wills is entering his 41st year as a member of the Elon Athletics. 

“It’s been a long run, 40 years working here and four years of college,” Wills said. “Everybody talks about Elon being home but they have no idea.”