Department Celebrates 99 Years . . . as Four Members of the Biology Faculty Retire
The party mood was festive, but it is with sadness and reflection that the Department of Biology says “goodbye” to four of its long-time members. Family, friends, and colleagues gathered at Pine Cottage on Wednesday, 6 May 2016, to celebrate Drs. Bonnie Kelley, David Zeigler, and Wm. Bruce Ezell, and Mr. John McDonald, and their service to the Department, and to wish them the best in retirement. David Zeigler will likely teach on campus this summer before retiring fully, and Bruce Ezell may continue to be active on campus in some capacity, given his new appointment as “Professor Emeritus.” These four members of the faculty have a combined service to the University of 99 years!
Bonnie Kelley (pictured above) first joined the University in 1977 (first woman on the Biology faculty) and, over the years, she developed and taught several courses in the plant sciences, including General Botany, Morphology of Vascular Plants, Morphology of Non-Vascular Plants, Introductory Mycology, Plant Physiology, and Plant Evolution. Passionate about education, she taught multiple workshops on critical thinking in the sciences. She developed the University’s first international course, Marine Biology, team teaching it for several years with David Zeigler and later, also, with Dr. Leon Jernigan. Dr. Kelley was appointed Professor Emeritus in 2007, but she continued to teach in the Department after a brief, mandatory reprieve. During the last few years, Dr. Kelley developed and then taught the Department’s “writing in the discipline” course, Reading and Writing in the Natural Sciences. She was “politically” active on campus, serving key roles on University and Department committees, and serving as Biology Department Chair from 1997-2002. Notably, Bonnie Kelley was bestowed the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1995.
David Zeigler (pictured above) first joined the University faculty in 1989. He developed and taught numerous courses. He may be best remembered, however, for Animal Parasitology (a topic for which he has great passion) and for Marine Biology and, over the years, he built a sizable collection of preserved animal specimens for laboratory instruction. His classroom teaching has been dedicated largely to courses in the animal sciences -- General Zoology, Vertebrate Zoology, Animal Behavior, Invertebrate Zoology, Evolution, and Animal Physiology. He could well be the best “read” member of the Department, and he is constantly looking for new science books to append to his reading list. His love of biodiversity, evolution, and of learning is no secret, clearly a driving force behind his published books – Understanding Biodiversity (2007) and Evolution: Components and Mechanisms (2014). His breath of knowledge caught the attention of Princeton University, and in 2012, he gave an invited, video-recorded lecture on the Princeton campus. David Zeigler chaired the Faculty Senate from 2006-2008, and he chaired the Biology Department from 2008-2014.
Bruce Ezell (pictured above) first joined the University in 1999 after being appointed Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Yet, his career in academics spans more than 40 years and includes faculty and administrative positions on multiple campuses. In 2001, he joined the Biology faculty as a full professor. He taught many sections of the Department’s introductory courses (e.g., Principles of Biology), and he developed new courses that enriched the undergraduate (e.g., Religion and Science) and graduate (e.g., Medical Entomology) curriculum. He took great delight in introducing students to the wonders of the natural world, and every autumn he took his Entomology students on a weekend trip to Highlands Biological Station. Dr. Ezell was instrumental in acquiring the local chapter (Psi Lambda) of TriBeta (a national honor society), which he co-advised for six years. During the 15 years in which he maintained a weekly television program, Academe Today, he interviewed dozens of members of the University community. In 2014, the campus chapter of the National Broadcasting Society and honor society Alpha Epsilon Rho recognized Bruce Ezell for supporting broadcast education on campus.
John McDonald (pictured above) worked in academics long before joining the UNCP Biology faculty in 2000. He earned a baccalaureate degree from North Carolina A & T State University in 1960 and a master’s degree in Developmental Zoology from Atlanta University in 1965. He taught classes and served as vice-principal for a public school in Scotland County, North Carolina. He taught science and math courses at Fayetteville State University, and biology, microbiology, and human biology courses at Robeson Community College. As a Lecturer at UNCP, Mr. McDonald taught numerous sections of Principles of Biology, Basic Human Biology, and Environmental Science. He was actively involved in local community happenings off campus. This included political activity, serving formerly as mayor and member of the town council in Wagram, NC. He served on the Board of Deacons and as Treasurer for Spring Branch Missionary Baptist Church. He is Past President of the Parents Teachers Organization at Shaw Middle School, and he was a basketball coach for the county little league. In 2013, Mr. McDonald officially “retired” at UNCP, but he continued to teach, although at a reduced course load.
The Biology Department is grateful for the tremendous service and contributions these outstanding individuals have given to the Department and to the University. We wish them the best in the next phase of their lives, and we hope they will continue to keep in touch over the years. Ninety-nine years with the University is certainly worth celebrating!
Many thanks go to Prof. Erika Young and Ms. Tonya Locklear (Department Administrative Assistant) for planning and organizing a wonderful retirement party for our retirees. Their many "small" touches made this party truly a special event.
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