Since becoming Elon University’s eighth president in January 1999, Leo M. Lambert has advanced an ambitious agenda to establish Elon as a top-ranked liberal arts university and a national leader in engaged teaching and learning.
Led by President Lambert, Elon has accomplished broad improvements in academic and student life programs while continuing to expand a beautiful residential campus, which has been designated a botanical garden.
Under Lambert’s leadership, the university established the Elon University School of Law in downtown Greensboro (2006) and created a new School of Health Sciences (2011). Earlier in his tenure, he supported a major academic reorganization that established the School of Communications, the School of Education and Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, which joined Elon’s existing Martha and Spencer Love School of Business.
The academic climate of the campus has been strengthened through special initiatives to shelter a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and maintain top accreditations for Elon’s professional schools, including AACSB International for the Love School of Business, ACEJMC for the School of Communications, NCATE for the School of Education and ABA for the School of Law.
In 2001 Elon College became Elon University, and Lambert led creation of the NewCentury@Elon strategic plan, advancing Elon’s position as a national model of engaged learning. Upon that plan’s completion, he led creation of the current strategic plan, the Elon Commitment, which will guide the university’s development through 2020. Among the priorities of that plan are initiatives to enhance inclusion, diversity and global engagement; support a world-class faculty and staff; attain the highest standards of academic achievement; expand graduate programs, career services and alumni programs; continue growth of Elon’s athletics programs; and continue development of the campus with special emphasis on transformation of the residential experience and growth of a vibrant Town of Elon.
Lambert also provided leadership for the successful completion of the Ever Elon Campaign in December 2011, which raised $107.3 million and was the largest fundraising campaign in Elon's history.
With a priority on expanding partnerships with K-12 public education, Lambert was instrumental in the creation of the Elon Academy in 2007, an enrichment program for academically talented high school students in the Alamance-Burlington (N.C.) School System who have financial need or have no family history of college attendance. The program has become a national model of excellence, enrolling nearly all of its graduates in higher education.
Elon's campus has grown tremendously during Lambert's presidency, adding more than 100 buildings with nearly 1.5 million square feet of space. New academic facilities constructed or acquired during Lambert’s tenure include Carol Grotnes Belk Library, Lindner Hall and the Academic Village, Ernest A. Koury Sr. Business Center, Gerald L. Francis Center, Inman Admissions Welcome Center, and the Numen Lumen Pavilion, a multi-faith center. In transforming its residential campus, Elon has constructed several new residence halls and a commons building in Danieley Center, The Oaks Neighborhood, Colonnades Dining Hall and the five-building Colonnades Neighborhood, and The Station at Mill Point, a 25-building townhouse neighborhood for juniors and seniors.
In line with Lambert’s vision of further developing one of the nation’s premier university living-learning environments, Elon has opened the first two buildings of the 600-bed Global Neighborhood on the shores of Lake Mary Nell and adjacent to Lakeside Dining Hall, with an additional three residential buildings and a Global Commons building scheduled for completion for the 2014-2015 academic year. The 30,000-square-foot commons building will house the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center, classrooms, faculty offices, and ample study rooms and large gathering spaces. The Global Neighborhood will include faculty-in-residence and several language learning communities, including La Casa de Español, La Maison Francaise and La Casa Italiana.
New athletics facilities have included Rhodes Stadium, Alumni Field House, Robertson Track and Field Complex, Hunt Field for soccer, Worsley Golf Training Center and Hunt Softball Park.
Under Lambert’s guidance, land was designated for the creation of the Elon University Forest, and the university created an environmental sustainability master plan to reduce energy consumption and set conservation standards for university construction and operations. In addition, the university created the Elon Environmental Center on the Loy Farm property as a hub for engaged learning, where students learn practical skills in sustainable agriculture, design and construction techniques. The Center serves as a place for students to study the environmental, business, social, and political implications of renewable energy at Elon.
Lambert has assumed a number of leadership roles regionally and nationally, serving on the national and North Carolina boards of Campus Compact and as a founding board member and president’s council chair of Project Pericles, a national organization that encourages college students to become civically engaged in their communities. Elon has been named one of the nation’s top universities for community service for five consecutive years in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. In 2009, Lambert was named a director of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), which comprises more than 1,150 public and private colleges and universities of every type and size. In 2011, he was selected to participate in a panel discussion at the White House as part of President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge initiative. In 2013, President Lambert was named chair of the board for the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.
Lambert has provided leadership on athletics issues, serving as a member of the NCAA Presidential Task Force on the Future of Division I Athletics and chairing the NCAA Committee on Athletics Certification.
Lambert has written extensively about post-secondary education and is co-editor of a book about university teaching that was published by the Syracuse University Press in 2005. His alma mater, the State University of New York at Geneseo, awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2002 in recognition of exceptional achievements in higher education, and the Geneseo Alumni Association awarded him its Excellence in Education Award. In 1998, he was named by Change magazine as one of the nation’s outstanding young leaders in higher education. In 2009, he received the inaugural William M. Burke Presidential Award for Excellence in Experiential Education from the National Society for Experiential Education. In 2010, he received the Periclean Service Award from Project Pericles.
As a prominent figure in North Carolina’s Triad region, Lambert has been named one of the “most influential leaders” for five consecutive years by the Triad Business Journal. In 2011 he was named the #1 large workplace leader in a survey by the Greensboro News & Record. He has also received the Thomas Z. Osborne Distinguished Citizen Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Greensboro, N.C., Chamber of Commerce, and was named a “Father of the Year” by the American Diabetes Association Greater Greensboro Area Father’s Day Council.
Lambert has a bachelor’s degree from State University of New York at Geneseo, a master’s degree from the University of Vermont, and a Ph.D. from Syracuse University. Prior to coming to Elon, he was provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse.
Lambert and his wife, Laurie, have two daughters, Callie Lambert Brown, M.D., and Mollie Lambert, a 2011 graduate of Elon’s master of arts program in interactive media; and two grandchildren, Caleb Ellis Brown and Anna Louise Brown.