Serving the college

Serving the college

Professors and staff retire from James Madison University


by Ciara Brennan ('17)


SUMMARY: Nineteen professors and staff members in the College of Arts and Letters have retired over the past two academic years or have plans to retire later this academic year.

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly all aspects of daily life, including the traditions of celebration to mark important life moments, such as birthdays, graduation and retirementNineteen professors and staff members in the College of Arts and Letters have retired during the past two academic years or will retire later this academic year without the usual in-person festivities. 

Despite their quiet transition into retirement, this group’s mark on JMU has been anything but ordinary. Thehave each played key roles in the growth and expansion of James Madison University into the institution it is today. In 1990, French professor Christiane Szeps-Fralin created the JMU Martinique program, and in 2005 she created the Summer in Paris program. In 2004, Glenn Hastedt helped establish the Department of Justice Studies, which he has chaired since its founding. Dabney Bankert created the English department’s internship program and directed it for a decade. Elaine Chisek helped to strengthen and grow the pre-law program at JMU, serving as both a pre-law advisor and the advisor to the JMU Moot Court Team 

Thehave also helped cultivate JMU's academic community through scholarly research and creative projects that have had great impact on their respective fields. Inman Majors published six novels during his tenure at JMU, including the successful Penelope Lemon series. Bill Fawcett, the former WMRA chief engineer, designed and installed the current WMRA and WXJM studio spaces. 

Collectively, this impressive group has contributed over 500 years of service to their units, the college, the university and the local community. “The College of Arts and Letters is fortunate to have such excellent faculty and staff," Dean Robert D. Aguirre said. "We honor these members of our community for their many years of dedication and excellence, wishing them well in the coming years and thanking them for all they have done to make JMU an even better than university than it already is.”


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Mary Ann Abbott, 29 Years at JMU

Mary Ann Abbott was a tireless and professional "anchor" to the political science department through years of growth, building changes, program changes and several different unit heads. She played an indispensable role in making the department what it is today, and our faculty, staff and students will always be grateful for her friendship and excellent work.

Cindy Allen, 23 Years at JMU

Cindy Allen taught professional editing and served as WRTC internship coordinator and advisor for the minor. Allen joined JMU in 1997 as a staff member in the Graduate School. After completing her graduate degree in 2003, she was offered a full-time position teaching in the program. Over the years, she has taught courses in technical communication, legal writing and editing, and she collaboratively created and taught a course in advanced editing. To say Allen was a favorite among WRTC students is an understatement. Read More

Dr. Dabney A. Bankert, 24 Years at JMU

A medievalist, Dabney Bankert taught courses in Old and Middle English, Chaucer, Old Norse/Icelandic Literature and Old Irish literature as well as the graduate research methods course for many years. She created and directed the English department’s internship program for 10 years, served as the director of English graduate studies for seven years and lead the English department as unit head for seven years.

Linda Barbosa, 16 Years at JMU

Linda Barbosa served as the administrative assistant for Justice Studies since the department’s founding in 2005. Linda has been an excellent colleague working closely with faculty, students and alumni to improve their experiences at JMU. Her imprint on the department's growth is evident in the many posters she’s made to promote visiting scholars and department events, which are on display on the second floor of Darcus Johnson Hall.

Elaine Chisek, 11 Years at JMU

Elaine Chisek played a unique role in the political science department, serving as academic adviser to hundreds of students, organizing critical advising events, supervising career peer advisers, and teaching courses on civil rights, constitutional law, appellate process and moot court. Elaine's proessionalism, good humor and care for her students and advisees made her a first-rate teacher, adviser and colleague. She eased the transition to JMU for transfer students, worked tirelessly to advise our majors and minors on courses and careers, and became a vital contributor to JMU's pre-law program.

Dr. Beth Eck, 25 Years at JMU

Beth Eck has a strong and steady record of valuable contribution at all levels of university life at JMU. She served as head of the sociology and anthropology department and on almost every department committee. She received the Edna T. Shaeffer Humanist Award, the Distinguished Service Award, a CAL Summer Research Grant and a CAL Educational Leave and was a finalist for the Carl Harter Distinguished Teaching Award. Eck has served on the Faculty Advisory Committee (as Chair) and the Faculty Assistance Committee, has chaired external review teams for APRs in Physics, The Learning Centers, and the Marketing Program, and has served on the Faculty Senate, the Honor Council and the General Education Council.

Dr. Marina Favila, 25 Years at JMU

A Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama scholar, Marina Favila also served as an advisor to the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, for almost 20 years. She founded Between Acts, a program to bring actors to English classrooms to perform scenes from plays

Bill Fawcett, 28 Years at JMU

Bill Fawcett served as WMRA’s Chief Engineer for nearly three decades. A few highlights from his work at WMRA include installing, and in some cases rebuilding, six different transmitter sites in Winchester, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Crozet and Farmville. Bill also designed and installed the current WMRA and WXJM studio space. For JMU, he has been instrumental in working with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to license JMU’s wireless gate system and to license all GPS clock systems installed in JMU building facilities. Bill’s expertise, character and dedication to his work transformed WMRA, WXJM and WEMC for the better.

Joe Fitzgerald, 21 Years at JMU

Joe Fitzgerald served in the College of Arts and Letters Dean’s Office for over two decades. For many of those years, he was the sole technology manager, webmaster, building coordinator and communications officer for the college. In addition to these duties, Fitzgerald was also the resident photographer for the “campus on the Quad” and could often be found outside with his camera.

Dr. Daniel Flage, 29 Years at JMU

Daniel Flage received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Iowa in 1977. Over the course of his career, he published sixty-four articles in various journals of Philosophy in his field of Modern Philosophy as well as several books, including textbooks in Logic and Critical Thinking. Flage was particularly dedicated to mentoring and tutoring the students in his critical thinking and symbolic logic courses. On several occasions, he also stepped in to serve the department as acting department head. Among the faculty, he was famous for his baking skills and the fresh-baked goods that he brought to department potlucks.

Dr. Michael Galgano, 35 Years at JMU

Michael Galgano taught in the History department for 35 years, serving 29 years as department head. He challenged students to read critically, think about the past, write with clarity and substance using evidence, and present their own research at conferences. He arranged for JMU’s first Preparing Future Faculty Fellow and implemented one of the college’s first faculty leave programs that became a model for other units. Galgano led by example, unafraid of hard work, yet frequently giving credit to others. He asked faculty to teach good courses, educate students, contribute to the scholarly continuum and serve the profession, always holding himself to those same standards.

Dr. Glenn Hastedt, 40 Years at JMU

Glenn Hastedt received his Ph.D. in political science with a concentration in American foreign policy and comparative politics from Indiana University. He joined the political science department at JMU in 1981.  Hastedt served as political science department head from 1999-2005. During that time, he also worked to establish the Department of Justice Studies, which he has chaired since its founding in 2004.   

Dr. Bruce Johnson, 33 Years at JMU

Bruce Johnson was a specialist in 17th century literature, the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Milton and the Bible as literature. Johnson is credited with creating the English Department’s undergraduate assessment process, and he chaired the assessment committee for many years.

Dr. George Johnson, 31 Years at JMU

George Johnson earned his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Early in his career, he gained real-world experience as a newspaper photographer and reporter. He also spent seven years as a producer, director and cinematographer for Mississippi Authority for Public TV.Johnson also served as the Director of the School of Media Arts and Design. Besides teaching at JMU, Johnson has taught at the University of Southern Mississippi, Arkansas State University and the University of Tennessee - Knoxville.

Dr. Lamont D. King, 23 Years at JMU

For more than 20 years, Lamont King enjoyed a distinguished career in the History department. An expert on the history of Nigeria, King’s scholarship explored the role of ethnicity and economic development in state formation in pre-colonial Africa. He taught a wide range of courses in African history, including upper-level and graduate courses that explored class and ethnicity in African history, nationalism and the global economy. As a long-serving member of the AAAD faculty, King played a leading role in the design of AAAD 200. He also spent many summers leading students on the Ghana Summer Program. In retirement, he serves as a member of the External Advisory Board of the AAAD Center.

Dr. Alex Leidholdt, 20 Years at JMU

Prior to becoming a professor, Alex Leidholdt spent a dozen years working as an award-winning media writer and director. At JMU, Leidholdt taught courses in Media History and Media Analysis and Criticism in the School of Media Arts and Design, where he twice earned the honor of being selected as the Ruth D. Bridgeforth Professor of Telecommunications. His research focuses on journalistic dissent and attempts to silence journalistic expression, and he has published three biographies: two that focus on Pulitzer-prize winning newspaper editors, Lenoir Chambers and Louis I. Jaffé, and another about Nell Battle Lewis, the South’s most important female journalist in the 1920’s.

Inman Majors, 15 Years at JMU

A creative writing professor in the English department, Inman Majors earned his M.F.A. from the University of Alabama and taught coursework in fiction writing and comedy writing. He has published six novels and also recently self-published a book of poetry titled “Summer of UFOs.” He recently signed a contract with MacMillan to collaborate on a comedic novel with the Americana singer Robert Earl Keen.

Dr. Christiane Szeps-Fralin, 33 Years at JMU

French professor Christiane Szeps-Fralin will always be remembered as a hardworking, committed and friendly person. She taught all the regularly-offered French courses, while creating and designing new, successful ones. In addition to her long list of scholarly publications and accomplishments, she has also devoted herself to international service. In 1990, she created and directed the JMU Martinique Semester program, and in 2005, she created the Summer in Paris program. She also implemented and drafted the International Mobility Agreement between JMU and the University of Versailles.

Dr. Anne M. Wiles, 47 Years at JMU

A distinguished teacher and scholar in the philosophy and religion department for nearly half a century, Anne Wiles published widely on culture and historical topics and figures such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Rabindranath Tagore, Dante and the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain. Anne is a living embodiment of teaching as vocation. In 2009, her dedication to teaching and to students was recognized when she received the Carl Harter Distinguished Teaching Award.She also served as the founder of and advisor to the JMU chapter of Phi Sigma Tau, the National Honor Society in Philosophy.

Published: Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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