Elon’s Human Anatomy Lab works with anatomical donors who dedicate their bodies to the Anatomical Gift Program, which allows students and professors to study donors for science and education after death. At the end of each semester, students and professors gather to pay their respects to and honor the lives of their “silent teachers” — a term given to the donors because of the nature of how students and professors learn from them. 

The fall 2022 Human Donor Memorial will be held Thursday, Dec. 1 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in McCoy Commons.

“It's a way to commemorate the silent teachers,” senior anatomy lab foreman Smythe Lefebvre said. “The Human Donor Memorial is a way to pay our respects and thank them for everything they've been able to teach us throughout this semester.”

At the event, those involved in the program will learn the name of the donors, who they were as people and how they died. While this information is confidential to anyone outside of the program out of privacy and respect for the donors, it allows the students and professors to pay their respects and honor each donor as human beings.

Coordinator of the Undergraduate Human Anatomy Laboratory Matthew Clark and Director of the Anatomical Gift Program Dianne Person will speak at the memorial, as well as guest speaker Susan Klopman — Elon’s former dean of admissions and served at Elon for over 30 years before retiring in 2012.

According to previous Elon News Network coverage, the Anatomical Gift Program is the first will-bodied program in the state of North Carolina to be unaffiliated with a medical school. To be a will-bodied program means that the individuals themselves must choose to be donated once they are no longer living, as opposed to any next of kin.

Afterward, Lefebvre said they will delegate time to leave the podium open for any students to pay their respects and speak about the impact the silent teachers had on them throughout the semester.

“I've been really pushing for the students to come because I think it is really important,” Lefebvre said. “At the end of the day, this is a human that's donated their body to science, so I think it is really important to pay our respects to them.”

Elon students in anatomy are welcome to attend, as well as some selected professors in the anatomy, biology and exercise science programs. According to Lefebvre, the invitation list has been kept selective to provide privacy to the silent teachers.