Beloved San Diego Mesa College dance professor has died

Rebeca Partida Montes, Staff Writer/Photographer

Beloved San Diego Mesa College professor Jan Ellis has died. Ellis was a part of the Mesa College community for 33 years. She served as the Department Chair for Physical Education, Dance, and Athletics from 2012 until her retirement in August 2015.      

Ellis taught many areas of dance including: Jazz Dance & Performance, Dance Repertoire, Sound Design for Dance, and Choreography. Aside from instructing various dance courses, Ellis took many leadership roles and paved the way for the Physical Education, Health, and Dance curriculum since joining the Mesa community in 1980 as an adjunct professor. She was the initial writer of the Program Review for the Dance Department, which would assist in ensuring the quality in courses and success of student dancers.

Jan worked closely with the Mesa Dance Company, coordinating shows twice a year as well as providing Dance and Movement Workshops for Educators every summer.

Jan dedicated much of her life and time to better her own community as well as push for the progress of exercise programs in schools. Her 2012 Professional Dance Educator of the Year award was one of the many highlights of her career. CAHPERD is a non-profit corporation that exists to create organized health, dance, and physical education programs across the nation. She was a recipient of the 2014 SCOPE Dance Educator of the Year which celebrated her professional and academic efforts.

Aside from her rigorous academic accomplishments, she also partook in the design of the new Exercise Science building. She pushed for many of the features and designs that now exist for the student body and faculty to enjoy and remember her by.

Jan Kathleen Ellis’ spirit and light will live eternally within the lives of the many students, fellow colleagues, and family whom were fortunate enough to know her.

Her family has partaken in the creation of the Jan Ellis Memorial Scholarship for students at San Diego Mesa College. To make a donation, you can visit Room A-104, or send a check to Anne Zacovic, Mesa College Foundation. There will be a service celebrating Jan’s life and spirit on Friday, Sep. 16. The service will take place at the Cuyamaca Water Conservation Garden beginning at 3 pm.