As part of the Thrive theme, we will enable students, faculty and staff to experience a greater sense of belonging and support by:

  • Advancing a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community
  • Cultivating a culture of health and well-being on a vibrant residential campus
  • Championing Elon’s exceptional faculty and staff

Inclusive Learning Spaces

Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is leading the way toward new methods of instruction that engage all students, regardless of their background, learning preference or educational goals, and lead them to thrive.

Three students collaborate on coding for an engineering project in Elon University's Robotics Lab.

HHMI awards Elon inclusive excellence grant promoting DEI in STEM

Elon University was awarded a six-year, $377,800 grant through Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) initiative to pioneer inclusion and belonging practices in STEM education. Elon is a member of a 14-institution Learning Community Cluster focusing on first-year STEM experiences and teaching strategies that grow success for students from all backgrounds.

Nearly 1 million students annually enter college to pursue STEM majors. More than half — disproportionately first-generation college students, community college transfers, and those from historically excluded ethnic and racial groups — do not complete STEM degrees.

The team of College faculty spearheading Elon’s work includes Associate Professor of Chemistry Jen Dabrowski, Professor of Engineering Sirena Hargrove-Leak, Associate Professor of Biology Jen Uno, Senior Lecturer in Statistics Ryne VanKrevelen, Assistant Provost for Scholarship and Creative Activity and Professor of Psychology Amy Overman, Dean of Elon College Gabie Smith, and Vice President and Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence Randy Williams.

Institutions in Elon’s cluster are: Fairfield University, Fisk University, Fort Lewis College, Hamilton College (New York), Oglethorpe University, Otterbein University, Portland State University, Simmons University, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota-Morris, University of New Mexico-Main Campus and Xavier University (Ohio).

Elon is among 104 colleges and universities in seven clusters selected to receive more than $60 million in IE3 grants.

Associate Professor of Psychology Sabrina Thurman poses for a photograph with four psychology undergraduates in downtown Elon.

Donor gifts expand access to student experiences in psychology

The Department of Psychology harnessed its gift account to provide equity in students’ access to experiences and relationship-rich mentoring. In 2022-23, the department dedicated more than $5,000 towards internships, conference attendance and presentations. It provided $1,000 student stipends to offset the cost of unpaid internships; $500 funding matches from the Office of Undergraduate Research for student travel to professional conferences; covering all printing costs for research posters for SURF Day and professional conferences; and supporting faculty mentoring and travel to conferences with mentees and student groups.

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From left, headshots of Professor of Engineering Sirena Hargrove-Leak, Associate Professor of Biology Jen Hamel, and Assistant Professor of Biology Jessica Merricks.

Faculty continue NSF-funded study for community college STEM transfers

Professor of Engineering Sirena Hargrove-Leak, Associate Professor of Biology Jen Hamel and Assistant Professor of Biology Jessica Merricks are leading a multi-year study to identify pathways to Elon from Alamance Community College Early College Program. Their work is funded by a $142,238 National Science Foundation award through its S-STEM program, which provides scholarships to low-income, high-achieving students.

Throughout the 2022-23 academic year, the team surveyed students and faculty at the community college and convened listening sessions to identify areas of action to recruit and retain STEM transfer students. They plan to present results to the NSF this winter and apply for additional funding to implement the plan.

Elon Women in STEM members gather around oversized balloons shaped as the letters 'P' and 'H' along with the numbers '2' and '3'.

College pilots Elon Women in STEM professional development program

The College partnered with Accelerate Success to pilot Elon Women in STEM to increase the representation of women and female-identifying employees in STEM fields. The peer-mentoring and professional development program is aimed at female-identifying students in STEM programs, but open to all STEM majors regardless of identity. Terri Mitchell — founder of Accelerate Success, a member of Elon’s Engineering Advisory Board and retired IBM executive — led the initiative with Dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences Gabie Smith and the Senior Associate Director of Career Services for Elon College Laurie Judge. Programming in the first year included internship and professional skills development, career navigation strategies and social events.

Other actions advancing belonging included:

Students congregate around a research poster for an informal discussion during a McMichael Monday session.

Faculty in the Department of Biology promoted community in the program through McMichael Mondays informal gatherings, internship and seminar poster sessions, faculty flash talks and discussions, and other events. Monthly “How to Succeed in Biology” workshops focused on study skills, research and internship application fundamentals and test preparation.

Students seated, engrossed in reading play scripts.

The Drama and Theatre Studies Program continued its Contemporary Play Reading and Discussion Series featuring works from underrepresented playwrights. The five plays analyzed included senior acting major Anna Gullon’s semi-autobiographical “The Lucky Cat.” The program also maintained the DTS Lending Library, which allows all students access to borrow copies of plays each semester instead of purchasing them.

Dancers perform on stage during a Black History Month Dance Concert.

Dance performance and choreography and dance science faculty updated curricula to advance DEI initiatives with new courses, including four courses in the cultural importance and technique of West African dance.

A group of students sits on the floor in a common area, gathered for a coffee gathering. One student sits beside a friendly golden retriever, giving them affectionate head pats.

The Department of World Languages and Cultures held monthly coffee gatherings in Carlton Commons for students, faculty and staff to connect.

Elon Day donations and gifts allowed the Arts Administration Program to increase stipends for student internships. The program awarded $4,000 to majors to offset the cost of housing, travel and expenses while participating in unpaid internships.

The Department of Exercise Science hosted monthly “Chats Towards Change and Understanding” discussions, informal events for faculty, staff and students from any major with the goal of creating dialogue that leads to action.

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics renovated its student lounge and held weekly gatherings. The department also developed a database of inclusive teaching practices for faculty to share strategies and outcomes. The department’s Task Force on Diversity & Inclusion, led by Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Heather Barker, created the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives in Introductory Statistics Inventory, a survey sent to introductory statistics instructors nationwide.

The Department of Religious Studies created and hired a new tenure-track position with a focus on Race and Religion. Faculty mentored Odyssey scholars, LGBTQIA+ students, and students from minoritized religious and cultural identities, as well as leading institutional initiatives for inclusion and belonging.

Intercultural and Multifaith Learning

Broad perspectives on the world, diverse cultures and traditions, and unfamiliar and challenging ways of thinking are the bedrock of a liberal arts and sciences education. Elon College students, faculty and staff bring these ideas to the forefront inside and outside the classroom.

Professor of Religious Studies Geoffrey Claussen stands at a podium outdoors on Elon University's campus during an event celebrating the first decade of the Jewish Studies program.

Jewish Studies marks decade of growth and engagement

Elon’s Jewish Studies Program marked 10 years of education, engagement and academic excellence and held a reception on March 1for the occasion. Launched in the 2012-13 academic year, the program has established connections across the state, nation and world as a hub of interdisciplinary study of varied aspects of Jewish culture and identity.

The program explores the historical and contemporary experience of the Jewish people. Courses spanning the liberal arts explore Jewish history, language and literature and the diversity of Jewish religious, cultural, philosophical and political traditions. It encourages the study of Hebrew at Elon, and it offers a range of study abroad and internship opportunities.

At the reception, President Connie Ledoux Book reflected on the program’s impact in multifaith engagement at Elon and thanked generous donors, including the Sklut family whose gifts founded the Sklut Hillel Center and endowed a professorship in religious studies.

Nichole Phillips of Emory University addresses the ‘Civil Religion and Race in the United States’ symposium.

Elon hosts ‘Civil Religion and Race in the U.S.’ symposium

The fourth biennial, interdisciplinary symposium hosted by Elon University’s Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society, “Civil Religion and Race in the United States,” happened in February. Twelve presenters explored the ways race and identity shape understanding of ourselves and those beyond our communities. The symposium was convened by Andrew Monteith, assistant professor of religious studies, and Jessica Carew, associate professor of political science and policy studies.

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A photo grid collage featuring headshots of the 2023-25 Multifaith Scholars.

Multifaith Scholars selects seventh cohort

Open to majors and minors in religious studies, the highly selective Multifaith Scholars program awards $5,000 annually toward students’ undergraduate research and study abroad connected with religious diversity.

  • Four scholars graduated in May — Darsev Kaur, Aidan Melinson, Peyton Rohlfs and Maddy Starr.
  • Five seniors will complete their multifaith research projects in 2023-24.
  • Six undergraduates were selected as scholars this spring: Sandoh Ahmadu, Kiara Cronin, Grace London, Jasper Serenity Myers, Kaelyn Rosenberg and Hunter Siegel.

Other areas of intercultural and multifaith learning included:

The International and Global Studies Program, Department of Political Science and the Peace and Conflict Studies Program co-sponsored a guest lecture by Srdja Popovic, a global activist and teacher on strategic nonviolence. Popovic’s organization, Canvas, founded in the wake of the revolution against Milosevic in Serbia in 2000, trains social movements around the world to use nonviolence to create change.

Faculty in the Department of Religious Studies served on the Multifaith Strategic Planning Committee, contributing to university plans to increase religious diversity at Elon. Associate Professor Brian Pennington, Professor Geoffrey Claussen and Assistant Professor Andrew Monteith worked with Admissions to develop recruitment and retention among religiously diverse students in North Carolina and the U.S.

Lecturer in Arabic Shereen Elgamal organized class visits to the Burlington Masjid and Islamic Center of Burlington, hosted members of the center on campus to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, organized two culinary events, two panel discussions, two movie screenings and a book review; and acted as guest lecturer in the religious studies course on Islamic traditions.

Lecturer in Chinese Binnan Gao organized the first Asian Movie Series in the spring with the theme Inner/Outer Peace and moderated discussion of the Chinese film “The Nightingale” with Associate Professor of English Li Li. Gao also organized the “Dumplings Across the Cultures” event, attended by the Chinese Club, Italian Club, and the Latinx-Hispanic Union in the fall, as well as a collage workshop for AAPI month.

Associate Professor of French Sophie Adamson taught FRE 3062 Seriously Funny: French Social Criticism through Humor, in which students explored perspectives on modern France through the lens of political cartoonists and stand-up comedians. Students analyzed the media in historical and socio-political contexts and examined the use of charged humor in informing and challenging audiences.

Senior Lecturer in Spanish Ketevan Kupatadze organized a visit by guest speaker Lula Carballo. Carballo lives in Quebec but is originally from Uruguay and spoke with students about her experience with immigration, her work as an interpreter in Canadian Immigration Court, as well as about her writing.

Assistant Professor of Classical Studies Tedd Wimperis created new courses in Greek and classical studies and revised CLA 1100 Classical Mythology through a CATL Diversity Infusion Grant to advance student learning about diversity in the world of ancient myth and in the global reception of Greco-Roman mythology among numerous cultures and identity groups today.

In conjunction with the Elon Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, which features Elon and regional musicians with concerts featuring works by underrepresented composers, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Bands Jonathan Poquette featured several prominent contemporary composers and premiered works by Adam Gorb and Nathan Hudson. The Department of Music also hosted Nathan Hudson’s Contemporary Chamber Group, Latitude 49 for in-house rehearsals, a master class, and a performance of new works.