Elon University is a private, mid-sized comprehensive institution in central North Carolina with approximately 6,100 full-time and 175 part-time undergraduate students, and 825 graduate students. Most of the students are women (60%), White (79%) and 18 to 21 years old. The four-year graduation rate is 79%, and 91% of first-year students are retained. From the Fall 2021 Registrar’s report, the top four states represented include North Carolina (25%), Massachusetts (9%), New Jersey (8%), and New York (7.5%), but also represented in the total student enrollment are 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 49 foreign countries. International students comprise 6.5% of the population.
Elon is a tuition-driven institution and continually ranks among the nation’s most affordable private universities. We emphasize a strong liberal arts and sciences foundation within our core curriculum and shelter a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. We are one of only seven private universities in the country with accredited schools of business, communications, education, law and health sciences. As of fall 2021, the undergraduate majors number 2,874 in Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, 1,912 in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, 1,423 in the School of Communications, 291 in the Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education, and 47 in the new nursing program in the School of Health Sciences. The largest undergraduate majors are finance (520), strategic communications (474), psychology (459) and marketing (433).
Elon is a primarily residential campus, with the majority of students living in on-campus housing organized into eight different living and learning neighborhoods, offering a holistic approach to education.
The Elon community is deeply committed to student success. The 2022 U.S. News & World Report has recognized Elon as #1 for excellence in undergraduate teaching and #9 in innovation. We ranked #83 among national universities, and for the seventh consecutive year, we have been named a leader in student cuccess as the only college or university in the country ranked in the top 20 in all eight categories of high-impact academic programs. Every student at Elon participates in two Experiential Learning Requirements (ELRs), including internships, leadership, service learning, study abroad/away and undergraduate research. Elon has been ranked highly by Zippia for post-graduate employment outcomes.
Teaching is the primary focus of the Elon faculty, and scholarship is the foundation of excellent teaching. Thus, we are dedicated to a teacher-scholar model, as noted by past provost Dr. Steven House in this letter to the community, that “holds in balance the practices of teaching and scholarship, explicitly including the related work of mentoring. The teacher-scholar model embraces the both-and tension (that is, not either teacher or scholar, but both teacher and scholar), recognizing the valuable outcomes that emanate from that tension.” Elon is committed to creating an environment that affords opportunities for faculty to excel as teachers, scholars and mentors.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Our last strategic plan, the Elon Commitment, prioritized initiatives in support of a commitment to diversity and global engagement. This plan created and refined a number of positions, programs, centers, practices and policies related to diversity and inclusion. A Division of Inclusive Excellence was created to support Boldly Elon initiatives “to promote a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community where all experience belonging and well-being.”
We also support inclusive and engaged learning and teaching with resources for faculty development and scholarship, including (among others) the Center for Engaged Learning, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, the Center for Research on Global Engagement and the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society.
Our last strategic plan focused on diversifying our student body through initiatives such as the Odyssey Program, with increased funding from 30 to approximately 180 selective, merit-based scholarships. The program has a 100% retention rate from the first to the second year. We doubled the number of international students. The number of students of color increased by 75% (450 Black and 450 Hispanic students).
Despite this progress, there is obviously much work to be done to diversify our student and campus community and to foster equity and inclusion. The second theme of Boldly Elon is Thrive, with a focus on building a healthier and more diverse, equitable and inclusive community where all students, faculty and staff experience belonging and well-being. In ongoing conversations throughout the LSL self-study process, the phrase “mentoring for surviving, not thriving” was applied to the experience of students with minoritized identities. There is a clear need to integrate the work of the Boldly Elon implementation committees moving forward.