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President Leo M. Lambert honored for support of experiential education

The National Society for Experiential Education has named Elon University President Leo M. Lambert the winner of an inaugural award for his contributions to experiential education. Lambert, one of 29 nominees for the honor, will receive the William M. Burke Presidential Award for Excellence in Experiential Education this fall at the society’s annual conference in Dallas.

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert

Named for the founding president of The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, the award consists of a $2,000 scholarship to benefit a student at Elon for his or her participation in an experiential program.

The award selection committee considered several criteria, including:

• How a president motivated a program or campus to embrace experiential education and provided support to make it successful;
• Has supported the experiential programming that makes it possible for students of all economic backgrounds to participate;
• Has supported innovative experiential education programming with an international emphasis;
• Has demonstrated the character of leadership, entrepreneurship, risk-taking or bold, forward thinking in the support of experiential education;
• Has impacted experiential education beyond his/her institution.

“This recognition speaks to the efforts of dedicated Elon faculty and staff who create meaningful, life-shaping experiences for students, both inside and out of the classroom,” Lambert said. “It is truly an honor to receive an award that carries Bill Burke’s name.”

Burke created The Washington Center in 1975. The Center strives to develop young leaders in politics, media, the nonprofit sector and business by providing internships in Washington, D.C. A tireless advocate of experiential education, Burke died in 2004, leaving behind 40,000 Washington Center alumni whose lives he affected throughout his career.

In a seven-page nomination letter, faculty and staff members lauded the president for his vision to make experiential education a cornerstone of an Elon University education. They shared with the selection committee programs that have blossomed during Lambert’s tenure, from Project Pericles to the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning to the Elon University Poll, among other initiatives.

The reemergence of NC Campus Compact shortly after Lambert’s arrival in 1999, and the creation of the Elon Academy to support low-income or potential first-generation college students in Alamance County, were examples cited in the nomination letter of his efforts to impact experiential education beyond the campus.

And when it comes to demonstrating “the character of leadership, entrepreneurship, risk-taking or bold, forward thinking,” the nomination letter highlighted the president’s role in the creation of the Elon University School of Law and its focus on leadership and service.

“Dr. Lambert models a life of engagement himself, supporting various nonprofit groups in the community personally and investing himself heavily in local education matters, “ said Pam Kiser, interim dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences. “Under his leadership there has been remarkable expansion in the number of faculty and staff who include community service in their work with students. It would be difficult to imagine any university president to have been more committed to the public good than Leo Lambert.”

The letter also noted the national recognition Elon has received since Lambert assumed the presidency. The university consistently scores top marks in the National Survey of Student Engagement, and several premier college guides have praised its overall culture, including U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek-Kaplan and the Princeton Review.

“This award really fits Leo Lambert,” said Pam Brumbaugh, director of experiential education at the university, “and the nomination came from the heart of many people who appreciate his strong support of Elon’s role as a national leader in the realm of experiential education.”

Eric Townsend,
7/16/2009 9:16 AM