Best Professor

Tom Nelson teaches in the School of Communications at Elon University. He arrived at Elon in 1996. [Caroline Brehman | Photo Editor]

1. Tom Nelson

Tom Nelson loves his job. Now an associate professor of communications, Nelson has been teaching at Elon University for more than 20 years, longer than some of his students have been alive.

But the students are the reason Nelson loves his job, he said. And the students must love him, too — Nelson was voted best of Elon professors.

When Nelson started teaching at Elon, the communications department was much smaller than it is today — Nelson was one of less than a dozen employees — but despite the school’s growth, Nelson said there’s still time to connect with students.

Nelson said that’s actually his favorite aspect of the school.

“I like that you have contact with the students, it’s still small enough.”

In one word, Nelson said this atmosphere in the School of Communications has lent it an unmistakeable air of “camaraderie.”

Nelson said he couldn’t be sure why students like him, but he said he hopes it’s because he truly likes his students.

“I do like them, I really do,” Nelson said. “I think they’re funny.”

Best Staff Member

Ms. Judy, who works on the dining staff for Elon University at Qdoba Mexican Grill in Danieley, was voted as the Best Staff Member. [Caroline Brehman | Photo Editor]

1. Ms. Judy

Many staff members have a positive effect on the daily lives of students at Elon University. One staff member in particular is known for her fond interactions with students who see her at Qdoba. She is known around campus as Ms. Judy.

Her consistently friendly interactions make her memorable to all students and faculty who see her.

“Ms. Judy is just really funny,” said freshman Dan Messulam. “Every time I see her, she always gives me a high-five. She always has the scoop as to what my friends are doing, kind of before I do sometimes.”

Her positive attitude and care for the students characterizes a type of personality valued by the Elon community.

Best Class

Anthony Hatcher teaching a “Journalism in a Free Society” class at Elon University. [Oliver Fischer |Staff Photographer]

1. Journalism in a Free Society

Since the course’s inception, Anthony Hatcher, associate professor of communications, has taught virtually every semester of “Journalism in a Free Society” — aside from fall 2017 when he was on sabbatical. The course was created, Hatcher said, “After the School of Communications faculty determined another journalism course was needed in the major to make sure students a) got as much writing practice as possible, and b) understood the major issues concerning the practice of journalism.”

The course has evolved and shifted over time as Hatcher has experimented with various textbooks and topics.

“I love teaching the class, and there is no shortage of material to draw from. The problem is deciding what to cut and what to include,” Hatcher said. “Ethics, reporting methods, attacks on news media, mistrust of the press and mistakes are all fair game. Teaching students to cover stories properly — including good interviewing skills and proper news style — is important, as is exposure to new apps and techniques.”

In addition to learning about important events in journalism history, students also do reporting of their own and write response essays to movies such as “All the President’s Men” and “Spotlight.”

“It’s a lot of ground to cover in 15 weeks,” Hatcher said. “But if young journalists leave with an understanding of where their profession fits into the corporate structure, how to use data to dig for facts, how to ask anyone a question without fear and how important their work is to freedom and democracy, I will have done my job right.”

Best Study Abroad Destination

Tourists enjoying the beautiful view on a sunny day from a seat in one of the famous canal boats in Italy. [Aleeza Zinn |Staff Photographer]

1. Italy

Elon News Network asked students to vote on what their favorite places were to study abroad. The best study abroad program chosen was Italy. Sophomore Julia Goldstein went to Italy during Winter Term last year with her honors group. Her favorite part of the program was getting to know everyone on the trip and her favorite destination was Syracuse, Sicily.

Goldstein felt “proud” to be able to form basic sentences in the foreign language after such a short time immersed. She was not surprised Italy was the most popular program because of the high caliber of her professors and the many destinations she saw.

Shanna Van Beek, assistant director of Study Abroad, said, “We believe these [Elon Center] programs are popular because of the professional development opportunities they include as well as the faculty-in-residence support.”

She believes the Italy and London Center programs are popular because of their cost-effectiveness of a $4,000 discount in the spring semester.

When choosing a destination for studying abroad, Beek encourages students to determine their “goals for global engagement” by filling out the Who Are You questionnaire on their Explore page.