As we begin making preparations to celebrate Elon’s 125th anniversary next year, it is fitting that a central element of the Elon Commitment strategic plan calls for a reimagining of our relationship with our alumni body. For the past two years, under the leadership of Elon Alumni Board president John Hill ’76, past president Chris Martin ’78 and president-elect Julia Strange Chase ’84, the board, along with senior university leadership, has been considering how to create one of the most robust, involved, committed and active alumni bases in the nation.
For Elon, this is an especially complex task. Our alumni base is extraordinarily young, with nearly 60 percent of alumni in their 20s and 30s, very much involved in the early stages of their careers and beginning families. We oft en hear from graduates of earlier decades that the campus has changed so much, especially in the physical evolution of its 636-acre grounds and facilities. And yet, we hear powerfully and unequivocally that what is most important about Elon – the human transformation that takes place here, the close relationships between faculty and students, the extraordinary sense of community – has been constant for every decade of alumni with which I have been personally acquainted, from the 1920s to present day.
We have decided to take a number of concrete steps toward our goal of building a vibrant alumni network. Th e plan will be guided by John Barnhill ’92, assistant vice president for university advancement, and includes the following initiatives:
Why are alumni so important to the Elon Commitment strategic plan and to the future of the university? Great universities have great alumni networks. It is that simple. And, as Ioft en tell students, Elon’s next great leap in reputation will not be based on new buildings or programs or rankings, but rather in very large measure upon the accomplishments of its alumni. For instance, Stephanie Newbold ’01 serves in the prestigious Supreme Court Fellows Program, learning firsthand the dynamics of the federal judiciary. In September, Matt Belanger ’05 won his third Emmy Award for news reporting and Mitch Pittman ’09 won his second Emmy. These are just a few of the many examples of alumni bringing pride to their university and helping to extend Elon’s national reach. I couldn’t be more proud.
Leo M. Lambert