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Story By Jack Dodson 43 // e Legacies of Elon’s Leaders GET TO KNOW Jim Donathan Arrived at Elon in 1994 Hometown: Aberdeen, NC e Legacies of Elon’s Leaders // 44 PHOTO BY JACK DODSON

Text of JimDonathan

  • Theres one thing that Jim Donathan knows will be left behind at Elon University as something he essentially created, that he built for all students to use: the degree audit.

    I always say its an ugly baby, but its my baby, Donathan said, laughing. It was not something I was trained to do, it was not something I had any knowledge about, not anything I particularly had any interest in. But, it was handed to me and I have molded it into something that I think is very useful. I think its a good tool and its just a tool, but its a good one.

    Within Donathans rst few years at Elon, he was handed the project by his supervisor, former Associate Dean of Academic Support, Mary Faye Rich. Rich retired in 2007, leaving Donathan now as the Assistant Director of Academic Advising.

    He came to Elon in 1994, after stints in the academic advising of ce at Appalachian State University and residence life of ces at Rhode Island School of Design and Guilford College.

    When Elon students are facing academic probation, Donathan is the man who works with them to see if they can x the problem. Hes the man who devotes his days to making sure students are adjusting to school well, that they are guring out their place on campus. Hes the man who makes sure the students he works with get in the classes they want.

    Now, Donathan nds himself having to ll a lot of different roles. Every day he meets with students to help them gure out classes and schedules, he works with them decide whether the school is right for them or even just gets them in contact with someone who can.

    I love the title of academic adviser youre giving advice, he said. Youre letting them think through, letting them talk through what their options are, rather than saying, You have to do this, you have to take that course. And I think they often come to the best decision on their own, they

    just need someone to talk it out with.And according to Donathan, there are three major duties he has on campus:

    meeting with students in person to help them with schedules and majors and going through the class schedules to make sure they are appropriately set up; working with students that are suspended or put on probation; and then maintaining the degree audit.

    He says working with students is why he took the job, though. For him, it is more about getting to know and helping students during their time at Elon than anything else.

    I feel like thats what I do best, Donathan said. My strength is sitting down one-on-one and talking with students. Thats what feeds me, is to get to talk with students and hear their plans, talk about whats important for them.

    But he also has to be the one to break news to students that they cannot come back to campus, occasionally, when students are suspended or put on probation due to grades.

    It happens generally at the end of each term, he said. The university has standards of all students and if they fall below those standards, we call them to task for it. We say, Heres what you need to do. And often we say, No, you need to stay away for a semester.

    As for being a leader, Donathan said he works well behind the scenes and likes to think that hes a leader on Elons campus more in the sense that he provides the tools for deans and department heads to do what they need to do.

    Its getting the right information to the people who need it so they can make the best decisions, Donathan said. I have to put my ego aside and not feel like I need credit for anything, I just need to get the information to the people.


    43 // e Legacies of Elons Leaders

    Story By Jack Dodson


    e Legacies of Elons Leaders // 44P


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    Story By Jack Dodson

    GET TO KNOWJim DonathanArrived at Elon in 1994

    Hometown: Aberdeen, NC