Powell BuildingOffice of the President

"Hot," but we can be better still

I invite you to read a short discussion paper titled “On Arriving, Deepening, and Sustaining: Key Questions About Elon University’s Future” on the Elon Web site (www.elon.edu/newcentury). This fall, this paper has been discussed by trustees, faculty and staff, alumni, students, parents and members of several university advisory boards.

We are at the midpoint of NewCentury@Elon, our ambitious strategic plan, and have made tremendous progress. Among the highlights are attainment of AACSB International accreditation for the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business; construction of the Ernest A. Koury, Sr. Business Center; continuing development of the Academic Village to support programs in the arts and sciences; establishment of the School of Law; creation of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning; strengthening of the honors program and the quality of our digital and print library collections; and dozens of other initiatives that are contributing to our vision of an institution that is nationally recognized for engaged learning. Newsweek-Kaplan’s recent recognition of Elon as one of the 25 hottest colleges in the nation is one indication that our collective efforts are leading us in the right direction.

However, there is much crucial and important work ahead as we pursue some of the plan’s objectives in greater depth. International education provides an excellent example. During the NewCentury years, we have opened the Isabella Cannon Centre for International Studies in Carlton building, built the Isabella Cannon International Studies Pavilion in the Academic Village, reinstituted a foreign language requirement for graduation and hired many new foreign language faculty members, surpassed our goal of having 60 percent of our students participate in study abroad and added three new endowments in support of international education thanks to the Dancer, Viebranz and Parker families. Yet we are compelled to do even more to ensure that Elon students are ready to lead in an age of globalization.

In small group conversations focused on our discussion paper, participants are being asked to consider such questions as the following:

  • If you visit Elon in 2020, what values and attributes of today’s Elon would you want to have been preserved? What would you want to find in 2020 that is not in Elon today?
  • Are Elon students being sufficiently challenged academically?
  • How do we avoid complacency in maintaining the innovative spirit that has been so essential to our success?
  • Is this the time in Elon’s evolution to focus even more fully on deepening quality, much as we have done with pursuing AACSB International and ACEJMC accreditations and the quest to shelter a Phi Beta Kappa chapter?
  • How concerned should we be about enrollment growth?
  • What are the most compelling messages we can bring before donors as we strive to build Elon’s endowment, and how can Elon further develop a culture of philanthropy within our community?

Gratified that participants in the discussions are approaching these questions seriously, we are hearing messages about how important it is for Elon to moderate enrollment growth, how urgent it is to build our endowment and how we must continue to create a truly distinctive –– even unique –– place for Elon on the landscape of American higher education. We are carefully collecting notes from each of the discussions, and the many good ideas will undoubtedly be incorporated into the university’s planning process.

I encourage you to read and react to the discussion paper and send us your thoughts about Elon’s future.


Leo M. Lambert