Local News

Elon University former president dies

Posted November 29, 2016

J. Earl Danieley

— J. Earl Danieley, the former president of Elon University and a higher education advocate in North Carolina, died Tuesday at the age of 92, the school announced.

“I struggle to find words that are adequate to describe the impact of Dr. Danieley’s life on Elon and the tens of thousands of students, faculty, staff and friends who loved him,” said Elon President Leo M. Lambert in a statement. “From his humble beginnings on a farm in Alamance County, he emerged as a brilliant man with a singular focus on education, expressed through a lifetime of work at his beloved alma mater. It is no exaggeration to say that Earl Danieley was a unique figure in American higher education.”

Danieley was born in Alamance County and earned a chemistry degree from Elon in 1946. He then joined the Elon faculty to teach chemistry, beginning a 70-year career in education. Danieley served as dean of the college before being named the sixth president of then-Elon College in 1957. He retired from the presidency in 1973 and returned to the classroom to teach. He served as director of planned giving from 1987 to 1992 before going back to teaching. He was widely regarded as one of Elon’s top teachers and was a mentor to many students. He retired from teaching last spring.

“I enjoy sharing knowledge and encouraging students to study,” Danieley once said. “If you can start with a student as a freshman who is uncertain and not really committed and watch that person become excited about learning, that is really satisfying.”

His commitment to good teaching is symbolized by the Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching, Elon’s highest teaching honor. Danieley and his late wife, Verona, created the award in 1972 to honor their parents.

“I was saddened to hear of the passing of Elon University president emeritus Earl Danieley today," Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement. "He was a true leader in education for North Carolina, whether it was in the classroom, as university president, or serving as a member of the UNC Board of Governors. Dr. Danieley served as an example to those of us who got to meet him and see his leadership firsthand. Ann and I offer our prayers to his family and the Elon University community during this time.”

Details of funeral services at the Elon Community Church and a campus memorial service are not yet set.

He served as an assistant to University of North Carolina system president C.D. Spangler from 1994 to 1996, with the responsibility of representing the university system in the General Assembly. He was elected to the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors by the state senate in 1983, serving until 1995. Danieley was named to the board of trustees at East Carolina University by Gov. James Holshouser in 1973, serving until 1979. Previous governors, including Terry Sanford, Dan Moore and Robert Scott, chose Danieley to serve on the Educational Facilities Commission of North Carolina, the Educational Commission of the States and the Legislative Student Commission on Student Financial Aid.

Memorial contributions in honor of President Danieley may be made to either the Danieley Scholarship Fund or the Daniels-Danieley Teaching Award at Elon University.


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