Professor Emeritus of Economics Tom Tiemann served Elon University for more than 30 years. He passed away on Friday, Dec. 22 at age 75. A recipient of the Elon Medallion, Tiemann was the founding dean of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, department chair of economics, director of general studies and director of the business fellows program. Apart from these various titles and accolades, he is most remembered for his compassion, kindness and his dedication to his community.
A close colleague, economics professor Steve DeLoach recalls Tiemann’s faith in students, his efforts to always continue improving Elon and his continued work well after his retirement.
“He had this great kind of liberal arts experience,” DeLoach said. “He just had a passion for doing the same thing for his students.”
DeLoach named Tiemann as one of his first mentors fresh out of graduate school, emphatically stating his steadfast faith in his students.
“I think that's the main thing is he just believed in the students. It wasn't about the program. It wasn't about Elon, per se, but it was about the students,” Deloach said.
Beyond just his teaching, DeLoach said Tiemann never separated himself from his academia; he used his knowledge and his research to improve his community. Likewise, Tiemann's love for both his job and his community is resounding.
“Most people, they have a job and then they go home, and you know their home life and their community life has kind of divorced from their job,” DeLoach said. “But just everything from the way he vacationed, to his professional work, and his research and his friends, it was just all reflective of his values.”
Even after Tiemann’s retirement, DeLoach said Tiemann continued his research revisiting his first ever publication and testing his results from 50 years prior to see if they'd remain the same. Throughout his career he authored more than 50 research papers ranging from sustainability to commutes. Tiemann often used his knowledge to better his own community volunteering at farmer’s markets and helping the Carrboro Town Planning Board. Like the results of Tiemann’s first publication, his impact on his community has also and will continue to withstand the test of time.
English professor Rosemary Haskell mirrored DeLoach’s admiration and remembers Tiemann as a force for Elon to go into graduate study with the Love School of Business. Despite pushback, Tiemann continued to fight for graduate research.
“I always admired his ability to see the world from other people's points of view,” Haskell said.
Haskell also recalled her carpool with Tiemann and several other colleagues — including DeLoach.
“I felt I learned from him in our carpool conversations about really how to develop strong and productive relationships with colleagues and with students,” Haskell said.
Beyond work, several colleagues had more personal relationships with him. According to Haskell, Tiemann and his wife were cat lover extraordinaires who enjoyed naming their cats after sports figures.
Professor of journalism Tom Nelson agreed with these sentiments.
“Tom Tiemann was one of the first people I met and his kindness and generosity was immediately recognized by me,” Nelson said. “And all these years later that impression has only been reinforced.”
DeLoach said that in all of his interactions with Tiemann, it was clear that he was a man of faith — not just in religion, but also in his students and his colleagues.
“He had a strong belief in God's grace. As a guiding force in life. That belief drove his classroom, his personal life and all he did,” Nelson said. “That belief had a deep effect on me. Because Tom was my superior in every way. And in that sense, he was my mentor. And I deeply appreciated him.”