Elon's board of trustees has finalized the 2005-06 budget, and I am writing with details that will be of interest to you. We consistently hear from students and parents that Elon offers extraordinary value, and trustees are committed to maintaining that position. At the same time, you have also urged us to continue to raise the level of excellence, expand academic and student life programs, and preserve the close student-faculty relationships and sense of community that make Elon such a special place. This budget is in line with your expectations and our NewCentury@Elon strategic plan to develop Elon as a national model of engaged learning. Here are some of the major initiatives:
- A total of 38 new positions will be added, including 18 full-time faculty. This will allow us to maintain a low student/faculty ratio and adjust faculty workload, giving professors more time to create and teach new courses, conduct research and mentor students, and provide service to the campus community. Additional faculty members will also teach more foreign language courses as Elon adds a new language requirement to its curriculum beginning with the 2005 freshman class. Elon has added a total of 78 new faculty positions since 2000, a 39 percent increase in just five years.
- Six new academic staff members and 14 additional staff positions will enable us to maintain student services and program quality in a time of continued growth. The new positions include additional librarians, a business internship coordinator, a director of parent programs, and staff for the new Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, where faculty will develop and evaluate new methods of teaching and promote a greater understanding of the learning process.
- The budget funds the fourth year of Elon's technology plan, including a new investment for classroom equipment renewal and replacement. The fifth year of the Library Development Plan will further expand our investment in new books and electronic information resources.
- Financial aid for students will increase 11 percent, including additional funding for Honors scholarships and other awards.
- A growing physical plant and increasing utility costs will require new investments, and the budget also includes funding to maintain the university's policy of no deferred maintenance on existing facilities.
We will be able to fund these initiatives while maintaining Elon's outstanding cost advantage relative to peer institutions. Tuition and fees for 2005-06 will total $18,949 and room and board will be $6,370, amounting to an overall increase of 7.44 percent. Elon's total cost next year will be 8 percent lower than the current national average for private colleges and universities. Our tuition and fees are nearly $4,900 below the average for other top-10 private schools in the U.S. News & World Report Southern universities ranking.
The signs of Elon's continued focus on quality are all around us. Construction on the Ernest A. Koury, Sr. Business Center, just north of the McMichael Science Center, began in January, and we are planning a site dedication ceremony for April 14. When the Koury Business Center opens in fall 2006, students in all majors will have access to 16 new classrooms, 19 study rooms, 3 computer labs, a digital theatre, finance center, and much more. I am grateful for the philanthropy of many alumni, trustees, parents, and friends for making this building possible for our students.
Phoenix Club Sports Fields on the new South Campus, south of the railroad tracks, will be ready for use this fall, with facilities for soccer, rugby, lacrosse, and baseball, along with a golf driving range and practice field for the Fire of the Carolinas marching band. Buildings on this former Elon Homes for Children property are also being refurbished to provide additional meeting and administrative space. On the north end of campus, our baseball team is thrilled with the new lights that have been installed at Walter C. Latham Park, thanks to the generosity of a group of parents, alumni, and friends.
We are proud of Elon's continued momentum this spring. Applications for admission are up 13 percent over last year's record numbers and 30 percent higher than two years ago. A new report by The Education Trust ranks Elon's graduation rates in the top 8 percent of master's-level universities nationwide. This month, former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman spent three days working with students on leadership and environmental issues. The Elon University School of Law will open in fall 2006 under the leadership of founding dean Leary Davis and a distinguished advisory board that includes two former North Carolina chief justices and the former president of the American Bar Association. We look forward to spring convocation on April 14, featuring former NASA astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn. I hope you will plan to attend.
This is an exciting time at Elon, and we thank you for your continued support and commitment to the community values we treasure so deeply.
Leo M. Lambert