At the center of Elon’s transformation during the past 10 years has been the strategic choice to nourish the liberal arts and sciences. This, coupled with an already successful practice of engaged learning, are now the cornerstones of an Elon education. New initiatives were launched in the last decade to support these goals, such as an enhanced honors program and the Lumen Prize program, major expansion of the print library collection and technology resources, celebrating faculty, staff and student scholarship at higher levels, and much more. This effort— sometimes summarized under an umbrella phrase “the journey to Phi Beta Kappa”— required broad-based faculty leadership, a significant commitment of resources, and administrative and trustee support.
Through the initiatives of this plan, Elon intends to move from its present position, as an emerging force in higher education, to become a university of true national prominence. The strategies will include innovative approaches that build on Elon’s academic strengths.
Elon’s distinctive General Education program, already recognized by many as one of the best, will be reconfigured to respond to the 21st century environment, becoming a national beacon for excellence and innovation in undergraduate education. An additional emphasis will be placed on exploring curricular and experiential elements of leadership and how we inspire the development of leaders throughout the student’s Elon experience.
Elon is also perfectly positioned to become the leader of the national conversation on engaged, experiential education by establishing a Center for Engaged Learning. We understand the inherent power in Elon’s approach to teaching and learning and are ready to make significant contributions to the evolution of higher education through workshops, conferences and publications. We are also committed to deepening the quality and support for each of the Elon Experiences, attaining a position of national leadership for each one. For example, Elon will make the program enhancements and investments to support the best undergraduate research program in the nation.
As part of our commitment to attaining the highest academic benchmarks, Elon is committed to developing a robust model for preparing students to compete for national fellowships, including Rhodes Scholarships, and fellowships from the nation’s top graduate schools.
In many respects, Elon’s academic reputation will be defined during the next decade by programs that reach the very highest level of quality, and we are well on the way toward achieving national stature in several areas. Examples include the music theatre program, which regularly sends its graduates directly to Broadway productions; the School of Communications, which has burst onto the scene and is already winning the coveted Hearst awards and challenging the nation’s top journalism and communications schools; and the Elon University Center for Public Opinion Polling, which regularly supplies incisive data to regional and national media as well as government agencies.
At the core of Elon’s general education and honors programs is interdisciplinary teaching. The Elon Commitment seeks to build on this strength with the consideration of innovative degrees and minors that intersect discipline areas. Our new interdisciplinary minor in neuroscience provides new thinking about possible undergraduate and graduate degrees in science and business, communications and environmental studies and a host of other possibilities.
As part of The Elon Commitment, every academic program will be challenged to rise to new levels of academic and scholarly accomplishment, meeting the objectives of the long-range plans of departments and schools. For example, the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business will set its sights on achieving a top-50 national undergraduate business school ranking and the School of Law will aim to achieve a top-100 ranking by leading the national conversation about preparing lawyers for leadership roles in society.