February 14, 2011

Dear Elon parents:

I write with news about decisions Elon trustees have made in setting next year’s budget. As we begin the second year of our strategic plan, the Elon Commitment, our ideas are moving quickly from concept to reality. Construction projects are under way, programs are being launched, and the university’s momentum has increased dramatically. In light of these exciting new initiatives, trustees carefully weighed the demands for additional resources with the financial realities that our students and their families are facing. I believe the resulting 2011-12 budget has struck the right balance.

Next year’s tuition increase of 3.98 percent is the smallest percentage increase in more than 20 years. Tuition and fees will total $27,881 in 2011-12, with room and board for a typical student set at $9,090.

Elon continues to provide an outstanding value in private higher education. This year’s total cost of attendance is $1,500 below the national private university average, and $10,000 – $15,000 below many of our peer private universities. We understand that affordability is a key reason many families choose Elon, and our strategic plan demonstrates our commitment to that position.

Next year’s budget places a sharp focus on priorities that further the goals of the Elon Commitment. We are making major investments in career services, creating the new Student Professional Development Center and adding and realigning staff to build stronger relationships with top employers. Students will work with staff to create four-year plans to complete internships and prepare for job searches or graduate school. Our plans also include asking parents and alumni to become more involved in supporting a vibrant career network for students. The center will relocate to prime new office space on the first floor of Moseley Center this fall, providing convenient access for students and employers.

Next year’s budget provides 10 new faculty positions and increased resources for faculty professional development. Including next year’s expansion, Elon has added 125 full-time undergraduate faculty positions since 2000, lowering the student-faculty ratio to 13.4-to-1. This has made a major impact on the close mentoring and advising work faculty do with students, a hallmark of Elon’s approach to education.

Work is under way to develop Elon’s new master’s program in physician assistant (PA) studies which will enroll its first class in January 2013 in the Gerald L. Francis Center on Haggard Avenue. This 140,000-square-foot facility is undergoing a complete transformation as the new home for the PA program and the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program. The DPT move out of its existing space in the McMichael Science Center will free up more room for our undergraduate science programs.

Other construction projects currently under way include three new Colonnades residence halls and five new Greek Life houses near Koury Business Center. Also under construction is Elon Town Center, which will be the new home of Elon’s bookstore and other retail services and restaurants on Williamson Avenue. Meantime, architectural planning is taking place for a multi-faith center for Elon’s religious and spiritual life programs in the Academic Village, a Global Residential Neighborhood that will replace outdated halls on the shores of Lake Mary Nell, a new housing village for juniors and seniors on the fire station fields, and a new dining hall addition to Moseley Center, nearly doubling the size of that building and adding spacious dining and meeting spaces.

Our student-athletes have been thrilled this year with the beautiful remodeling of Alumni Gym and the opening in January of Alumni Field House, the new headquarters of Phoenix athletics at the north end of Rhodes Stadium. On your next visit to campus, be sure to take time to see the great new seating and upgrades in the gym and take a stroll through the Hendrickson Football Center and the athletics training and weight room in Alumni Field House.

Among the highlights of spring semester is the April 7 Convocation for Honors, which will be moderated by your fellow Elon parent, Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News. The convocation, titled “We can be better: Courageous voices confront our greatest challenges,” will feature five distinguished panelists who will discuss threats to our democracy, economies, public education, the environment and civil stability around the world. Students will have the special opportunity to hear from CNN’s senior political analyst David Gergen, former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, celebrated scientist Shirley Ann Jackson of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, interfaith author and journalist Eboo Patel, and innovative educator David Levin. Please join us for this extraordinary convocation, or watch for opportunities to see the event via Elon’s website.

As you talk with your Elon student during this busy spring semester, I hope you get a sense of the energy and opportunity we feel every day. The lives of our students are immeasurably enriched through their studies and activities at this great university, and your enthusiastic encouragement is a critical factor in our success.

With sincere thanks for your support,

Leo M. Lambert

P.S.: Recently I joined Facebook and established a page on which I’ve been posting some of my experiences and views about daily life at Elon. If you’re on Facebook, I’d love for you to join me in the conversation. Find my page at: facebook.com/leomlambert