‘So Many Ways to Grow’

Faculty member Colleen Munro-Leighton helps students become whole people.

Colleen Munro-Leighton is a chemistry professor at Elmhurst University.

As a special way to mark our sesquicentennial celebration, we asked some of our students, faculty, staff and alumni to share their fondest Elmhurst memories, favorite campus stories and hopes for the future of the University. Read along as we roll out the entire series over the coming months.

Colleen Munro-Leighton, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, missed connecting with students in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. More importantly, she missed the personal interactions with students during these formative years of their lives.

“What it really is, is helping students understand how they can be whole people, helping them open their eyes to who they could be,” says Munro-Leighton, Ph.D., who earned the 2014 President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. “From the lecture series to the unique course experiences to the study away program, there are just so many ways to grow at Elmhurst.”

Munro-Leighton also is faculty advisor for the Queer Straight Alliance. She says her role is more that of a cheerleader and advocate. The students drive the organization’s agenda, and she offers her support.

What do you wish everyone knew about Elmhurst?

We are all willing to work hard to help the students be successful. Faculty, staff, everybody on campus is working their tails off to make a difference in the student experience.

What has been your proudest moment as a professor?

I’m most proud when students share some of their accomplishments­—whether it’s getting a good grade in a difficult class, acceptance into graduate school or a competitive internship, reporting back that they’ve graduated from dental school—and we get to celebrate their success together.

What it really is, is helping students understand how they can be whole people, helping them open their eyes to who they could be.

Colleen Munro-Leighton Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

How do you feel about being at Elmhurst as the University celebrates 150 years?

Especially in this time of what I hope is a social justice transition in the country, I hope we can say as a campus community, “Where do we want to go with our next 150 in response to what’s happening and to also lead what’s happening?”

What do you see for the future of Elmhurst?

We’ll continue to evolve in ways that serve the students well and serve a broader population of students. We have a tradition of embracing social justice, from inviting Martin Luther King Jr. to campus and then establishing a lecture series to more recently being among the first to ask applicants about their LGBT identities to better support students on campus. I hope we evolve in ways that honor that legacy to make an impact on the world of social justice.

Posted June 7, 2021

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In 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a standing-room-only crowd in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel.

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