Recognizing retirees for service to university, students

As the university says goodbye to our graduating class of 2023, we also say goodbye and thank you to our retiring faculty and staff members, each of whom has given over 19 years of service to the university.

Judith Burbank retirement celebration

Rand Brandes, Ph.D.

Rand Brandes

Brandes served as a Martin Luther Stevens Professor of English at Lenoir-Rhyne for more than 20 years. He was the director of both the LR Visiting Writers Series, started by Brandes in 1988, and the Lineberger Center, which sponsors the Lineberger Fellows program. He has been instrumental in the research and preservation of the work of Seamus Heaney, Irish Nobel Laureate and renowned writer and poet.

He is the 2003 recipient of the Roediger Distinguished Service Professorship and the Lenoir-Rhyne Faculty Scholar Award in 2004. Inaugurated in 2016, he is a member of the LR Servus Universitas Society – a notable way of honoring employees who have dedicated the better part of their lives to serve the mission of LR and make it a better place for those who come after them.

Judith Burbank

Judith Burbank

Burbank was an assistant professor for the College of Fine Arts and Communication with a long and distinguished career as an operatic performer, including multiple leading soprano roles in the United States and Europe. Burbank joined LR in 2002 as an artist-in-residence. In 2010, she became an assistant professor of music, with her teaching emphasis on voice performance.

Doug Burkholder, Ph.D.

Doug Burkholder

Burkholder joined the Lenoir-Rhyne faculty in 2004 after teaching at McPherson College and Wichita State University. As a professor in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, he has taught calculus, algebra, geometry, probability, topology and discrete mathematics courses. His research interests are wide-ranging, with a particular interest in the relationships between art and mathematics in his recent scholarship. 

Helen Caldwell, Ph.D.

Helen Caldwell

Caldwell joined the LR faculty in 1981 after an appointment at Auburn University. As an associate professor in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, she taught a wide range of courses in physics, geology and earth science. In addition, she serves as the chair of the Bryden Awards Committee for the North Carolina Academy of Science. She was inaugurated as a member of the LR Servus Universitas Society in 2016.

Katie Fisher, Ed.D.

Katie Fisher

In her role as dean of student life at Lenoir-Rhyne, Fisher strategically oversaw and provided administrative oversight for all areas of student life, including initiatives focused on promoting well-being and student engagement. With a deep understanding and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Fisher was responsible for fostering and implementing a transformational student experience at LR, including the development of the whole person, the adherence to policies found in the student handbook and the promotion of communication with the student body. In addition to her regular duties, she served as co-director of LR’s Broyhill Institute for Leadership. She joined LR in 2002 as an assistant professor and chair of the School of Education and served as a faculty member until appointed to her role as dean of student life in 2009.

Joe Mancos, Ph.D.

Joseph Mancos

Mancos was a professor of political science who started teaching at Lenoir-Rhyne University in 1986. He taught courses in American politics, Constitutional law and political theory and was the advisor for the North Carolina Student Legislature, which gives students hands-on practice in formulating laws and presenting them for passage in a mock legislature. As faculty representative to the Lutheran College Washington Semester program. Mancos encouraged students to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., where they intern and study.

In 2016, Mancos received a Fulbright teaching scholarship to Russia, where he taught a course entitled "A Political History of the United States" at Moscow State Pedagogical University. His interest in Russian society and politics goes back to his first visit to the Soviet Union in 1977. Since then, he has traveled with LR students on study abroad programs to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Mancos is a member of the LR Servus Universitas Society and was inaugurated in 2016.

Beth Wright, Ph.D.

Beth Wright

Wright was an associate professor of sociology with an emphasis on social justice in her teaching. She joined Lenoir-Rhyne University in 2004. Her classes addressed a range of social topics, including the sociology of gender and sexuality, classic sociological theory and social stratification and inequality. She also enjoyed teaching introductory courses to sociology and co-teaching with colleagues.

In 2014, Wright received the Raymond Morris Bost Distinguished Professor Award, given annually to honor an LR faculty member for outstanding teaching and mentorship. She has been instrumental in expanding support for first-generation college students and most recently served as the Faculty Fellow in the Office of Student Success, where she assisted students with academic planning and success.

Dr. Marsha Fanning teaches in front of a class of students

With the closing of another academic year, we say goodbye to a group of faculty and staff members who have given years of service to the university and its students.

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Six students in graduation regalia stand on the field under a sign reading "Congratulations Class of 2024"

Speakers and members of the Class of 2024 reflected on the challenges of their journey and the fulfillment of lifelong dreams at commencement ceremonies on three campuses.

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