Elon must do everything possible to prepare students for successful lives in a diverse 21st century world. Today, students’ first employment may very well be outside of the United States, and they certainly will compete for careers on an international basis. They will encounter differences in language, cultural perspectives, race, nationality, religious traditions, and political and economic structures like no other generation before them.
In a major initiative to better reflect the world’s socio-economic, ethnic and cultural diversity, Elon will double the institutionally funded need-based financial aid budget in ten years and expand endowment-funded need-based financial aid. Elon must not become a gated community open only to those of privilege, and our classrooms and campus life will be much richer when we recruit more students from diverse backgrounds who challenge and lead us by sharing their own life stories, like our Watson, Eure and Susan Scholars.
In addition, Elon will reconfigure merit-based financial aid awards, including presidential scholarships, which will be targeted to benefit students whose goals are most in keeping with Elon’s mission and values. Students who are serious scholars and experiential learners, those with special artistic or performance talents, and others who have demonstrated passions and skills in service or leadership, will be provided with recognition and financial support as they seek a challenging academic environment and continue their journey of learning.
While Elon leads the nation in study abroad participation rates, we have much more work to do in fully engaging with the world. To further strengthen our commitment to global engagement, we will provide new endowed scholarships so that 100 percent of our students can have access to the experiential transformation of international study, regardless of their family finances. Study abroad will be enhanced to include stronger curricular roots and rich international experiences in service, leadership, internships and language study. It will also be essential that we expand study abroad programs to include additional nations, especially China and India, which will have profound influences in the world during our students’ lifetimes. Efforts to embrace the world more fully will also be apparent on campus as we triple the number of international students who are members of our community.
The Elon community has already experienced the positive impact students from diverse backgrounds can make on the learning environment. Laith Majali '05 of Jordan, a Sundance Film Festival award winner, and Watson Scholar LaToya Marcus '04, who helped transform young lives in Texas through her Teach for America work, are just two examples of young leaders who have influenced all of us in profound ways. They now exemplify the power of an Elon education through their professional accomplishments and service to society. We can imagine the extraordinary effect 300 more students like Laith and LaToya would have on this university, and we understand the importance of recruiting the kind of students who will enrich the experiences of the entire student body.
This same unprecedented commitment to student diversity and global engagement will be furthered by the university in its hiring of faculty and staff and through opportunities for employees to engage in global thinking and have global experiences.
In an aggressive and sustained effort to support and increase ethnic and cultural diversity, Elon will expand support for students of diverse populations and implement elements of a bold plan developed by a special committee to strengthen and expand the role of the multicultural center.
We will expand Elon’s support for the many religious and spiritual traditions on our campus by building a multi-faith center and additional religious living-learning houses, promoting a rich dialogue and championing interfaith understanding and respect, the building blocks for greater world peace in an era of religious conflict.
Strong civic engagement and service learning programs are the hallmark of an Elon education. We will partner with local, regional, national and global communities to create innovative solutions to society’s most pressing problems at home and around the world. Through The Elon Commitment, the School of Education will lead our campus community as we partner with the Alamance-Burlington School System to build stronger schools, provide community leadership and advocacy on behalf of K-12 education, and develop the Elon Academy as a national model of university-school collaboration.