Powell BuildingOffice of the President

Trustees of tomorrow

One of the most important ways Elon’s values are transmitted from one generation to the next is through the service of alumni on the Board of Trustees, the National Alumni Executive Board, the Board of Visitors, and many other boards and councils of the university.

The present Board of Trustees, for example, has nine alumni from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, three from the 1970s, four from the 1980s and two youth trustees representing the two most recent graduating classes. The careful development and cultivation of informed and committed alumni leadership is a critical priority for our institution. Elon constantly balances the process of reinvention with adherence to a set of core principles that has guided it successfully for decades.

One of the unusual features of Elon’s alumni body is the high proportion of alumni in their 20s and 30s; in fact, 30 percent of Elon’s 28,000 alumni have graduated since 2000, and 54 percent have graduated since 1990. This has profound implications for the nature of our alumni programming and our hopes to develop young alumni into leaders who will be prepared to help steward Elon’s future.

A key first step in focusing greater attention on the needs and priorities of younger alumni was hiring Lindsay Gross Hege ’04 as assistant director of alumni relations for young alumni. One of Lindsay’s first actions was to survey young alums. She learned that an overwhelming majority of respondents want to remain active with Elon by participating in alumni travel and service activities, and that 40 percent said they would be willing to be contacted by a current student to offer career advice.

I have recently appointed a new Young Alumni Council, which convened for its inaugural meeting this fall. The council is charged with seeking ways to keep young alums invested in the future of their alma mater and recommending ways the university can continue to best serve young alumni interests and needs.

Another significant institutional goal this year is to examine how our interactions with all our alumni can be meaningful and effective. To that end, we convened an Alumni Summit this fall, which brought together alumni representatives from the 1930s all the way through to the Class of 2007. Their two-day conversation was centered on important questions such as:

  • How can Elon do a better job of intentionally developing alumni leadership and preparing alumni for increasing levels of involvement and responsibility in campus life?
  • How do alumni envision their relationship with Elon will evolve over time, from young alumni days through the golden alumni years? How can Elon be responsive at each stage?
  • How can we do a better job of matching alumni interests in serving the university (hiring interns and graduates, returning to campus to speak in classes, serving on advisory groups, to name just a few examples) with the needs of the campus?

One of Elon’s most precious assets is our alumni body, a group of men and women who represent each day what Elon stands for in the wider world. This body includes distinguished scientists, physicians, public servants, teachers, university professors, college presidents, professional athletes, clergy, attorneys, CEOs and authors.

Each year at Commencement, Elon sends 1,000 more graduates into the world to serve the common good. We need each and every one to remain connected to Elon and to keep the university strong for succeeding generations.

Leo M. Lambert