Momentum Award: Bonnie Jefferson
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
These accolades even extend far beyond the students. Donald Fishman, assistant chairperson of the communication department, first hired Jefferson to teach at the University and said she is a “master teacher.”
“In the Rhetorical Tradition course, one of the hardest units to teach deals with Kenneth Burke, one of the most challenging theorists in communication,” he said. “Bonnie’s summary of Kenneth Burke is superb, and she shows an excerpt from the film Lion King to explain the concept of ‘rebirth.’ Ten years after the course, students forget the technical details of Burkeian theory, but they invariably remember the day that The Lion King was shown in class.”
Fishman also said Jefferson shines in American Public Address when discussing rhetoric in the Cold War, the topic of her Ph.D dissertation. “No one in our department has every handled the Cold War with more passion and insight than Bonnie Jefferson,” he said.
Jefferson also teaches more than just her students. For many younger professors in the communication department, she has helped them adjust to the BC community and also been a mentor.
“When I moved here, she painted old dressers to give my kids when we were new and needed furniture,” said Ashley Duggan, a professor in the communication department. “I have delighted in enjoying her summer garden, trips to the beach, conference trips, lots of great meals and glasses of wine with Bonnie. I am touched by the ways she shares her life with students far beyond the classroom as well. She is a friend and mentor who touches our souls.”
Pamela Lannutti, a professor in the communication department, also said that Jefferson was vital in her first few years at BC.
“I started at BC 10 years ago, straight out of grad school, and Dr. Jefferson took me under her wing,” she said. “She is a wonderful mentor to the students and professors alike. She is the best example of what teaching college is all about.”
Rosenthal said Jefferson is “the wise one.”
“Bonnie is the one person who everyone in the group looks to as the ‘wise one.’ She is amazing at planning and scheduling any event of any size,” she said, citing a trip to the Louvre in France that Jefferson had planned. “Bonnie has been a wonderful ‘wise one’ and guide to so many students, faculty, and friends, and she will be missed by so many.”
So what is the next step for this forever-young wise one? Time, and a lot of time, with her daughters and grandchildren. She may move to be closer with family, or build on her father’s chicken farm in West Virginia. Wherever she, and John Wayne, end up, it is clear that she will never be forgotten.