Elon university trustees approve 10-year, $586 million strategic plan

The Elon University Board of Trustees voted unanimously Dec. 14 to approve a $586 million strategic plan that will guide the university's development during the next decade. "The Elon Commitment: Engaged minds. Inspired leaders. Global citizens.," was created over the past 15 months, involving the entire community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends in a discussion about Elon's future.

The Elon Commitment includes eight themes that outline historic investments in the people, programs and facilities of the university. The plan builds on two previous strategic plans, the Elon Vision (1994-2000), which transformed the campus with many new facilities, and the NewCentury@Elon strategic plan, which was launched in 2000 and successfully positioned the university as a national model of engaged learning and brought the university’s academic programs to new levels of excellence.

“Our vision for The Elon Commitment is simple and powerful: to engage students’ minds and inspire them to act as leaders and global citizens,” says Elon President Leo M. Lambert. “In aspiring to the goals of this plan, we are creating an expectation that an Elon education prepares students for leadership in their chosen fields and in their communities. Our deepest conviction is that the world needs Elon graduates. This plan is about marshalling the resources of the university to support and inspire all members of the Elon community as they assume positions of leadership and act as engaged citizens working for the global good.”

A 23-member Strategic Planning Committee coordinated the creation of The Elon Commitment on behalf of trustees, gathering ideas and input from the entire campus community in scores of open forums, group meetings and workshops, and online discussions. That process led to the eight themes of the plan first outlined by Lambert last August in the kickoff of the academic year.

The Elon Commitment themes include the following:

  • An unprecedented university commitment to diversity and global engagement
  • Supporting a world-class faculty and staff
  • Attaining the highest levels of achievement across our academic programs
  • Launching strategic and innovative pathways in undergraduate and graduate education
  • Stewarding Elon’s commitment to remain a best-value university
  • Developing innovative alumni programs to advance and support the Elon graduate
  • Establishing a national tournament tradition of athletics success along with the highest academic standards for Phoenix athletics
  • Significantly enhancing Elon’s campus with premier new academic and residential facilities and a commitment to protecting our environment

The plan includes adding $300 million to Elon’s endowment to expand scholarships. Additional need-based financial aid will enable Elon to recruit more students of exceptional character and talent from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, an essential factor in creating a rich learning environment that prepares all students for success in a 21st century global society. Larger merit-based scholarships will support top students with high academic goals, and new study abroad scholarships will make international study available to 100 percent of Elon students.

The plan also outlines a $250 million construction master plan that will dramatically expand residential facilities, building an additional 1,600 beds to allow more students to live on campus in innovative housing communities, building a 5,000-seat convocation center and a 1,500-seat auditorium, expanding academic facilities for science and communications, building a multi-faith center, promoting retail development in the Town of Elon and implementing a host of environmental sustainability initiatives.

As higher education evolves over the next 10 years, Elon will remain an innovative leader, investigating the creation of a School of Health Sciences, expanding graduate programs and creating combination programs that will allow students in some fields to immediately follow their undergraduate studies with master’s degrees. A gap-year program will provide an alternative start to college for students who want to defer traditional studies while they pursue service or work experiences. Academic plans also call for creating the nation’s finest general education program, establishing a Center for Engaged Learning and reaching top national rankings for the School of Law and the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business. Expanded support for Elon’s faculty and staff will be guided by the findings of a report prepared by the university’s Presidential Task Force on Scholarship and through new leadership and professional development initiatives.

Nearly half of the funds necessary to carry out The Elon Commitment will be fundraised, and the university will turn to its alumni, parents and friends to join in this effort. Successful completion of Elon’s current Ever Elon Campaign, scheduled to conclude in 2011, is the first step, and increased support of capital projects, endowment initiatives, and annual funds will be a priority throughout the decade.

“When we reach 2020 and look back at the accomplishments of The Elon Commitment plan, we will be amazed at the ways this university has advanced,” said Allen Gant, chair of the board of trustees. “Our aspirations for Elon have inspired us to imagine great things, and we are proud to call this plan a ‘commitment.’ We are committed to making these exciting goals a reality.”

Full details of The Elon Commitment are available on the strategic plan Web site: www.elon.edu/strategicplan.