As Roanoke College bid farewell to the Class of 2023 this month, it also celebrated the six retiring faculty members who have dedicated a combined 206 years of service to the College and its students.
Generations of Maroons have passed through these faculty members’ classrooms, art studios, exercise spaces and music practice rooms over the decades, and because of these caring teachers, they have gone on to make a difference in their own communities.
The entire college community would like to thank these professors for their devotion to the school and their profession. We wish them retirements replete with joy, peace and good health.
Elizabeth Heil, associate professor of fine arts, emerita
Elizabeth “Eliz” Koesters Heil (artist name Eliz S.-K Heil) joined the Fine Arts Department at Roanoke College in 1981, dedicating 42 years to the College before her retirement this year.
Heil studied photography and film at Southern Illinois University, then went on to study printmaking at the University of Louisville before earning an MFA in drawing and printmaking at Northern Illinois University. Before embarking on her teaching career, she did stints as a coroner’s photographer, a photo lab technician and an insurance photographer.
Heil was an early adopter of new technologies, from campaigning for the first mainframe computer at Roanoke in the early 80s to being a pioneer in 3D printing in the 2000s. She set up the first computer graphic studio at Roanoke, pursued state-of-the-art software for photographers and designers in the art program, and was the first artist in the Roanoke area to use performance and video art. She even held Homeland Security clearance for the use of night-vision goggles, which led to innovations in photography and graphics as the field moved from analog to digital methods.
At Roanoke, Heil taught classes in photography, printmaking, design, computer graphics, senior seminar, painting and drawing, and more. Her students have presented their artwork and research at regional conferences and in the galleries of Olin Hall.
Heil’s own work, which explores themes such as social interactions, the use of plastics, and women’s companionship, have been on display in more than 100 shows and exhibits around the world, including The Art Institute of Chicago and the Cincinnati Museum of Art. In addition, she has brought many renowned artists to Roanoke College as speakers.
In a retirement resolution for Heil, her colleagues wrote, “Olin will miss Eliz’s dedication to her students, her ever-presence in the studios, and her willingness, always being involved in everything with everyone!”
Jane Long, professor of fine arts, emerita
Fine Arts Professor Jane Long, who created Roanoke College’s first art history program, retired after 27 years of service to the campus.
Long, who earned her doctorate degree from Columbia University, came to Roanoke in 1996 to teach art history after leading classes at Savannah College of Art and Design, Mary Washington and John Carroll University. Her passion for her work, including an impressive history of scholarship on the Italian Renaissance, made her an enduring presence at Olin Hall.
“Jane has served as a model teacher, always pushing to shape and hone her already excellent courses, a mentor for students and colleagues, and an energetic, creative, compassionate, and leading educator,” her peers wrote in a resolution celebrating her contributions to the College.
“Olin Hall will not be the same without hearing the clear, inspirational, and dynamic lectures echoing through the hallway (always a topic you wished you were in the classroom to absorb).”
Long founded Roanoke’s art history program in 2005 and rose to become the Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo Professor of Art History in honor of her achievements as a teacher and a scholar. She shared her expertise beyond campus with numerous conference presentations on topics spanning from Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” to comical representations of dogs; papers published in Renaissance Quarterly, academic collections and more; and book reviews and translations for the Sixteenth Century Journal, which she served as book review editor.
Her scholarship was recognized on a national scale with honors that included a U.S. Department of Education grant, Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language program participation, and a CIC Seminar on “Teaching European Art: Dutch Art, Patrons, and Markets” for the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
She is a past Fulbright Fellow, and in 2012 was one of 25 scholars chosen to study at the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute in Florence, Italy. Long returned to Florence many times throughout her career, including leading May Term courses there for her students, harnessing the unique energy and inspiration offered by studying the works of the masters in person.
Long also devoted her time to the College outside of the classroom, serving on numerous committees, including chairing the curriculum committee and multiple departmental review committees.
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