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Getting to Know...Ellen Goldey 

Ellen Goldey
  

In 1972, the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust made the largest single gift that that Wofford had received until that time — a $500,000 endowment to establish a professorship “to support and encourage a scholar-teacher whose enthusiasm for learning, commitment to teaching, and sincere personal interest in students will enhance the learning profession and make an effective contribution to the college community.”

Dr. Ellen Goldey of the department of biology has been named Wofford’s fourth Kenan Professor, with the appointment to become effective this summer.  In that role, she follows the late Dr. Lewis P. Jones, who held the position from 1972 through 1987, Dr. W. Ray Leonard (Kenan professor, 1987 – 1993), and Dr. Philip Racine (Kenan Professor, 1993 – 2009).

“Phil Racine is my role model,” Goldey says, “as I’m sure Dr. Leonard and Dr. Jones were for him.  I am humbled by this honor, and will do my best to continue in their tradition.”

The story of how Goldey came to Wofford is unusual. A graduate of Sewanee, the University of the South, with a doctorate from Miami University in Ohio, she had started a very successful career as a Toxicologist with the Environmental Protection Agency.  In fact, she won the New Investigator Award from the Neurobehavioral Society in 1992.

“I was comfortable and productive as a research scientist, and I was confident that the career path could be financially rewarding,” she says.  “But since my days as a lab assistant at Sewanee, I knew that I wanted to spend my career teaching at an excellent liberal arts college and guiding young people to become change agents for a better world.  So I was excited when I spotted the Wofford job advertisement.”            

“The day I interviewed at Wofford,” she says, “I got to attend a faculty meeting.  Never before had I seen a faculty having fun at such a meeting, but at Wofford people obviously liked each other, and while they were clearly serious about doing their jobs well, they didn’t take themselves too seriously.  I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

As a Wofford faculty member, Goldey has won a series of honors for her teaching and faculty leadership.  In 2002, she was the Outstanding Educator of the Year for the 124 United Methodist colleges and universities.  Two years later, she won Wofford’s inaugural Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science.  In 2008, the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement designated her as a SENCER fellow, recognizing exemplary leadership and commitment to the improvement of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.  She has secured extramural funding from the National Science Foundation for curricular innovation, and she is also a leader in educational assessment, working collaboratively with other institutions with support from the Teagle Foundation. 

“I hope that we can compete less and share more with our peer institutions,” she says.  “We share a greater  purpose, that of educating students in the liberal arts tradition.  Comparisons make us better,” she says, “They also help us understand how good we really are.”

When she is not teaching or working on academic development projects, Goldey says that she really enjoys yard work, cooking and gardening. She and her husband, Wofford’s Albert C. Outler Professor of Religion Byron McCane, are building a LEED certified home, where they hope to entertain students and colleagues for years to come.