Elon University’s rise in academic quality and national recognition and emergence as a leading institution renowned for engaged learning was the result of a series of ambitious strategic plans. In formulating these plans, members of the Elon community—trustees, faculty, administrators, staff, alumni, parents and friends—dared to dream big dreams.
In December 2009, the Board of Trustees approved Elon’s current strategic plan, the Elon Commitment, which will guide the institution through 2020. The first over-arching goal of the Elon Commitment envisions an unprecedented commitment to diversity and global engagement. Why? Because at Elon we believe successful citizenship, careers and lives in the 21st century demand intercultural competence. Today’s Elon graduates must appreciate and be able to negotiate the vast array of cultural differences they will experience both domestically and globally. At Elon, we view such competence as an essential component of academic excellence.
In crafting the Elon Commitment, we also carefully considered the ways our community will continue to mature and strengthen. Chief among these is that we want Elon to be more accessible to bright and talented students who lack the financial means to afford the full cost of attendance. Establishment of major scholarship programs such as the Watson, Eure, Susan, and Hall scholarships speak to the commitment of the broader Elon community to enrich the learning environment on campus for all students. The Elon Commitment has set a target of doubling need-based financial aid in this decade.
Goal #1 of the Elon Commitment—diversity and global engagement—is breathtaking in its scope and ambition. We plan to construct a multi-faith center, the Numen-Lumen Pavilion in the Academic Village, and to be a leader in promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding. While we are proud that 71 percent of Elon students study abroad, we dream that every Elon student will have an international or domestic intercultural experience by 2020. We aspire to triple our international enrollment in this decade. We plan to build a global-themed residential neighborhood, housing 600 students, on the shore of Lake Mary Nell in the heart of campus, to open in the fall off 2014. And much more.
A commitment to diversity and global engagement is a personal journey for each of us. My own recent experiences learning alongside Elon students in “The Call of South Africa” winter term course, traveling and studying in Israel, Jordan and Turkey, and participation in the White House summit on interfaith cooperation and community service have helped to reshape my own world view. If we are to be successful in achieving our shared vision for diversity and global engagement, it will require the talents and personal commitment of every member of the Elon family. What form will your commitment take?
I look forward to working with you in creating one of the most vibrant and engaging environments for learning in the country.
Leo M. Lambert