Visiting professors move on from Lafayette: Departing faculty reflect on time at college

Over the course of the academic year, students have to say goodbye to professors who move from the college. With the end of the spring semester approaching, the college community is once again bidding farewell to professors who won’t be returning in the fall.

Visiting Professor of International Affairs Joel Shelton, who taught at Lafayette four years, is one of those professors. He was not rehired at Lafayette next fall, but he will be moving on to a tenure-track position at Elon University in North Carolina.

“It’s a really bittersweet transition for me right now: the promise of a really exciting future, but also in being proud of what I’ve tried to accomplish with my students here, but also feeling in some way that my time here could’ve been longer,” Shelton said.

Shelton will be a professor in Elon University’s new global political economy faculty line. He said he is excited about the new chapter in his career, but will miss his students at Lafayette.

“I tried my best to stay at Lafayette and in the end I wasn’t offered the opportunity to do so,” Shelton said.

Last year, Shelton was awarded the Superior Teaching Award by Lafayette College Student Government. He was also awarded with the McDonogh Network Award this spring.

When looking back on his time at Lafayette, Shelton said that while he has enjoyed working what he estimates to be the hundreds of students he taught during his time here, working with Posse scholars stands out as something he is very proud of.

“Working with Posse scholars and talking about current events in my classroom and trying to really push awareness of important social and political issues is something I’m really proud of,” he said. “But I love all my students.”

Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Leigh Campoamor, who also won’t be returning in the fall, said that she too has appreciated what the Posse scholar program does for the campus, and especially what individual Posse scholars have brought to her classes.

Campoamor also said that she will miss individual students with whom she has formed relationships over the course of her two years here.

“Part of what’s nice about a small liberal arts school atmosphere and part of what attracts students to small liberal arts schools is these sustained relationships with professors,” she said.

Campoamor wrote in an email that students have approached her about future projects, but she had to inform them that she won’t be returning in the fall and can’t work with them.

“If a fundamental draw of a small liberal arts college like Lafayette is the close relationship that students have the opportunity to forge with professors, students need to know, coming in, that not all of their professors will have the opportunity to provide them with this sustained experience,” she wrote.

Former Lafayette Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Simon May left the college after the fall 2015 semester, and said that he has missed the students at Lafayette tremendously.

Having worked at St. Louis University since the beginning of the spring semester, he said that, like his former colleagues, he wishes he could have stayed at the college longer.

“Unfortunately, I had to leave but I did not want to leave, but that’s just the nature of academia,” he said. “They have roles they need to fill. I would’ve loved to stay, but I understand.”

“The best thing about Lafayette for me was the students, probably one of the most rewarding teaching experiences I’ve had because of the students,” May added. “So smart, well-engaged, so active. The students were a pleasure to teach.”

About Kathryn Kelly

Kathryn Kelly '19 is the editor-in-chief of The Lafayette. She studies government & law and Classics.

1 comments

Prof. Shelton, thank you for teaching me about politics, and life beyond it. Somehow, you made reading E. H. Carr a joy. Saddened that you wished to stay and were not given the opportunity.

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