Professor Ellis was one of The Snapper’s advisor. Photo Courtesy of Millersville University.

Morgan Huber

Robert Eugene “Gene” Ellis, professor Emeritus of Millersville University, passed away earlier this month. A professor of Communications & Theatre at Millersville, Ellis taught courses from 1990 until his retirement in 2017. 

A dedicated professor, director, and father figure to countless students, Ellis’ career in academia spanned more than 40 years, the last 27 of which were at Millersville. Ellis studied English Literature and Communication at Carson-Newman University, a small Baptist college in Tennessee, subsequently earning his Master’s in Communications from Marshal University and his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University.

By the end of his career, Ellis primarily taught COMM 100 Fundamentals of Speech, a required course for all students at Millersville, which also happened to be one of his favorites.

“I really enjoy [teaching] the Fundamentals of Speech class,” said Ellis in a 2011 interview with the University Exchange. “You get to work with students on different levels of competence in a subject that all must master to some degree. Communication is fundamental to any profession you enter … it’s exciting to see the growth of students in that class.”

During his life, Ellis was passionate about guiding people of all ages through his role as a professor and stage director. From a young age, he developed an affinity for acting and the art of theatre, going on to direct more than 200 plays and musicals at the ‘Ville and beyond.

In addition to lecturing on campus and directing stage productions in local theatre, he served as faculty advisor for “The Snapper” from 1994 until 2015, when he stepped down to focus on his last year of teaching. He was succeeded by current advisor and Communications and journalism professor Dr. Robert Spicer. 

Ellis resided in Lititz with his wife of nearly 50 years, Barbara, both of whom served as deacons at the Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren. He is survived by three children and several grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life for Gene Ellis will take place at the Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren, located at 777 South Mt. Joy Street in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 2 p.m.