Trustees approve 2015-16 budget

Elon's budget for next academic year expands investments in priorities of the university's strategic plan, the Elon Commitment. 

Message from Elon University President Leo M. Lambert

Elon University’s Board of Trustees has approved the 2015-16 budget, and I am writing to let you know about next year’s costs and the new investments we are planning for the university’s academic programs.

Maintaining Elon’s position as one of the nation’s best-value private universities is among our top priorities, and next year’s budget keeps cost increases at historically low levels. The total cost of tuition, room, board and fees for next year will increase by 3 percent to $43,170, the smallest percentage increase in more than 27 years. Tuition will increase by $925, with room and board increasing by $331; for the second year in a row, student health and SGA fees will not increase. The total dollar increase is the smallest since 2002. Elon’s costs remain thousands of dollars below most peer private universities.

Elon will continue its policy of slow enrollment growth next year, maintaining a level on-campus population while an increasing number of students are spending a semester studying abroad. Global engagement remains a hallmark of an Elon education, and we are further expanding scholarship resources next year for students who cannot afford an international or Study USA experience. Eleven new full-time faculty positions in many academic disciplines will continue Elon’s progress on maintaining a 12:1 student-faculty ratio.

Next year’s budget includes the third year of increased investment in programs that promote writing skills for students in all disciplines. We are seeing a large increase in the number of students taking advantage of the Writing Center in Belk Library and two other satellite locations on campus. In addition, the Writing Across the University program is helping faculty integrate writing assignments and assessments in their courses. By paying special attention to improving their writing skills, our students are becoming better prepared for success in their careers and/or graduate school.

Elon’s campus continues to expand to support students’ needs, and next year’s budget includes increased funding for utilities and maintenance. Today’s campus facilities total 2.6 million square feet, more than double the space of a decade ago. Just a few weeks ago, we opened the Inman Admissions Welcome Center, consolidating our admissions and financial planning offices to better serve current students, as well as the thousands of prospective students and their families who visit Elon annually. This will allow us to repurpose space in Powell building for academic programs and in Moseley Center for student programs, including an expansion of the Student Professional Development Center. Meantime, work is under way on three new facilities that will be very popular with students: studios and classroom facilities for the music production and recording arts program at Arts West, adjacent to the new Scott Studios; a recreation building with fitness facilities at Danieley Center; and an expanded Daniel Commons building at Danieley Center, providing additional dining options.

When the Global Neighborhood opened last fall next to Lake Mary Nell, we experienced the full impact of Elon’s initiatives to enhance the residential campus and promote a vibrant intellectual environment. Neighborhood faculty directors-in-residence, Core Curriculum courses linked to neighborhood groups of students and offered in neighborhood classrooms, monthly house/neighborhood dinners and engagement events, and common spaces for staff and faculty liaison programming have integrated learning throughout every aspect of the Elon experience.

The halfway point

Elon has emerged as a university of national prominence during the first half of this decade and we are poised to achieve even greater success as we plan the next five years of our strategic plan, the Elon Commitment. We are working to conclude fundraising for new and enhanced facilities for the School of Communications in coming weeks, which will allow us to begin construction on the project in June and plan for completion in fall 2016. We are also planning for expanded facilities for science programs and the business school. And thanks to a major gift by parents Dwight and Martha Schar (who are also among contributors to the communications campaign), we are able to begin planning for a convocation center, a facility our community has envisioned for many years.

In addition to campus construction, the Elon Commitment outlines quality improvements in all aspects of Elon’s academic programs. The core arts and sciences foundation of the curriculum is adapting to the needs of our modern world; for example, we expect the study of international languages to flourish in the years ahead. We plan to expand our #1-ranked study abroad program with new semester opportunities in Asia. And we will further develop Elon’s Study USA programs with exciting new opportunities on the West Coast, New York City, Washington, D.C. and other domestic locations. We are positioning excellent student scholars to win major national and international fellowships, such as the Fulbright, and gain recognition as they compete with students at the nation’s finest universities. Elon faculty will continue to demonstrate leadership in the national conversation about best practices in undergraduate education.

These are just a few examples of our priorities for the years ahead. This is an exhilarating time to be associated with this dynamic university, and students will see the benefits now, and in years to come, as they apply their Elon education to impact the challenges of our world.