When senior Julia Lissy got sick at the end of her Elon in Los Angeles trip, she said Brad Lemack took over for her as a third parent — constantly checking up on her and making sure she stayed up-to-date on all her work.

While Lissy participated in the study USA program in summer 2023, Lemack began his role as the new Elon in LA director on Jan. 22.

Lissy said there’s no one else she would rather have for the job.

“I think he's the perfect person for this role, as he's super organized, he genuinely cares about the well being of his students — not just the students in his class, but the students in his internship seminar and everyone across the program,” Lissy said. “Every class period was my favorite memory because he just made everything so enjoyable.”

Lemack will be visiting Elon on Wednesday, Feb. 21 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Snow Atrium for an informal meet and greet to initiate his primary goal of recruitment.

Brad Lemack became the director for the Elon in Los Angeles program on Jan. 22. Photo from Brad Lemack.

“My focus is making sure that when students walk into our pod, a second home, that they feel like they're stepping into a place that's comfortable — with teachers and leaders who support them and mentors who want them to succeed in every step of the way,” Lemack said. “My goal is to communicate that message to them and to do everything we can to help them succeed.”

Lemack has been living and working in LA for decades — including as an Elon adjunct professor of strategic communications and entertainment public relations for the last 14 years. With the Elon in LA program being 15 years old, Lemack has been involved with the program for almost its entire existence. Because of this, he said he feels confident and familiar with the responsibilities of the new job.

“I have tremendous familiarity with the program and the foundations of the program and what we do,” Lemack said. “More importantly, where we're going and where we need to hit. So I'm thrilled to have this opportunity.”

Lemack took over for former program director J McMerty after McMerty stepped down under private circumstances in the middle of the spring 2023 semester. 

Maggie Mullikin, manager of Elon graduate and global programs, said she can think of no better person to carry on the program’s torch.

“I know the director that left, he's one of my closest friends, and I understand why the students were confused, but what I will say is that there's no one better than he — no one better than Brad — that I could see bringing back the program to the level it was when J McMerty was the director,” Mullikin said.

Lemack also said he is grateful for time he spent working with McMerty and the work he’s put in to build the program.

“With regard to the previous head of the program, who was a person that I worked with closely for 14 years, he did an incredible job at building the foundation for this program,” Lemack said. “We have only to build on that; there's nothing broken in LA. We're going to move forward and we're going to build a program that stays relevant with what's changing in all of the industries that are out here.”

Having been in talent management, entertainment and celebrity crisis public relations since the 1980s, Lemack has also taught at Emerson College in Los Angeles for the last 29 years.

“My life has really been a parallel intersecting journey of higher education and the entertainment industry and communications, and it's very exciting to be able to bring what happens from the business into the classroom,” Lemack said.

Mullikin has known Lemack for roughly 12 years and will be working with him to recruit students while he is on campus. She said his teaching style and professional experience will be a valuable addition to the Elon in LA program.

“He's warm; he's generous with his time and his knowledge; he's thoughtful and he's caring; he's an excellent communicator; his industry background — combined with his extensive teaching experience — make him a really brilliant addition to Elon in LA,” Mullikin said. “He personally has developed a true affinity for the university and I think that our students are just very fond of him. And it's reflected in all the interactions he has, whether they're with faculty, staff or students.”

Mullikin also previously worked in the Elon in LA program for about nine years and said she wishes to help Lemack return the program to its past popularity. Compared to summer 2023’s enrollment number of roughly 30 students, Mullikin said it was common to get nearly double that amount.

“We want to get back to where we were in terms of enthusiasm and numbers,” Mullikin said. “So what I would say to students is come to these information sessions, come to see me in my office, talk with me about what Elon in LA has to offer. … Give us another chance because Brad is the one to bring it back to where it used to be.”

Lemack said he has no worries or concerns about his new role and is grateful for the support he’s received from the community — especially during his first week on the job.

“There is a future of the program. There is growth that is on the way to happening. We've begun that journey this week,” Lemack said. “The outpouring of support from the Elon community, and in particular my former students, has really been extraordinary and I am just so appreciative of that.”