About Mary Jo

I’m the Maude Sharpe Powell Professor of History and an associate director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning at Elon University.

I enjoy trying to engage, challenge, and support students, which is a shared goal of Elon faculty. I’ve had the chance to teach a wide variety of courses related to recent U.S. history as well as some interdisciplinary courses. These include African American history, women’s history, LGBTQ history, disability past and present, oral history, and sports history. I’ve participated in study away and study abroad courses and served as coordinator of the Women’s, Gender, & Sexualities Studies Program and director of the Honors Program.

My newest book, Transforming History (University of Wisconsin Press, 2020) offers evidence-based suggestions for how to design courses and assignments, understand students, choose effective teaching methods, assess student work and our own teaching, and work toward a successful and satisfying career.

Occasionally I can facilitate workshops for faculty and/or graduate students based on the research I conducted for the book.

My previous books include Playing Nice: Politics and Apologies in Women’s Sports (Columbia University Press, 1996), which analyzes changes in sports in the second half of the twentieth century, and Second Wind: Oral Histories of Lung Transplant Survivors (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), which explores the history of lung transplantation in the U.S. and the experiences of those who waited for and/or received a transplant. My interest in this topic started because my brother Bob received a double lung transplant in 1995.

After growing up in Chicago, I attended Knox College as an undergraduate and completed an interdisciplinary independent major in Social Change. Then I studied 20th century U.S. history at UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master’s thesis on the Black civil rights movement and a dissertation on women’s sports.

I’m also irrationally devoted to the Chicago Cubs

Email Mary Jo at festle@elon.edu