Constance “Connie” Ledoux Book, provost of The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and former Elon University faculty member and administrative leader, has been elected the university’s ninth president.
Constance “Connie” Ledoux Book, provost of The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and former Elon University faculty member and administrative leader, has been elected the university’s ninth president. The announcement was made by Board of Trustees Chair Kerrii Anderson ’79 following the board’s vote on Sunday, Oct. 8.
“Connie Book has a deep appreciation of Elon’s history, culture, academic programs and student-centered values,” Anderson said. “Her distinguished 16-year career at Elon, combined with her senior leadership experience and many accomplishments at The Citadel, made her the unanimous choice of the board of trustees. This announcement of Elon’s first female president is a historic milestone and I invite all members of our community to welcome and congratulate Dr. Book on her selection. She is the right leader at the right time and we look forward to the ways she will advance our university.”
Book will succeed President Leo M. Lambert on March 1, 2018, and will visit campus periodically before then to prepare for the presidential transition. Lambert has served as Elon’s president since January 1999. He announced last February his intention to conclude his presidency and the board of trustees conducted a national search to find his successor.
Book was a member of Lambert’s senior staff from 2008 to 2010, serving as presidential faculty fellow for strategic planning, concentrating on development of the Elon Commitment strategic plan. She continued as a senior staff member when she was named associate provost for academic affairs in 2010, managing a broad range of academic programs and initiatives.
“I am thrilled and humbled to be chosen as Elon’s ninth president,” Book said. “Elon is one of America’s greatest success stories in higher education, defined by excellence in academics, experiential learning, global engagement and close relationships between students and their faculty and staff mentors. It has been a great honor to be associated with Elon through much of my professional life and I return to campus with enthusiasm to work with my colleagues to write the next defining chapters in the university’s history. To serve this committed, hardworking, learning-centered community as Elon’s ninth president will be the greatest privilege of my career.”
Book was recommended to the board of trustees by a 16-member Presidential Search Committee, led by trustee Wes Elingburg P’11, that included trustees, students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff. The search committee employed a hybrid search model, with an open phase at the beginning allowing nearly 7,000 members of the Elon community to provide input via a survey and campus forums. In the second phase, Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, a national higher education search consultant, contacted nearly 1,000 people about the search and assembled a pool of about 150 distinguished individuals, including many from the nation’s most elite institutions. The search committee selected and reviewed a group of top candidates and, following two rounds of interviews, selected two finalists to participate in the third phase, which included meetings and one-on-one sessions with more than 60 Elon trustees, faculty, staff, students, senior staff members and academic deans. Based on the results of this extensive evaluation process, the search committee unanimously recommended Book to the board of trustees.
“Consistently, we heard from candidates that the Elon presidency was one of the top professional opportunities in higher education,” Elingburg said. “We gave serious consideration to many talented and impressive candidates. From the beginning, Connie Book stood out above all others. She is a passionate mentor for students, a skilled administrator with extensive knowledge of all aspects of the university and a strategic thinker who understands the challenges and opportunities facing higher education. She will be a great leader in the tradition of presidents Leo Lambert, Fred Young and Earl Danieley.”
Provost of The Citadel
In March 2015, Book was named the first female provost and dean in The Citadel’s 175-year history. The Citadel is one of six senior military colleges in the nation and about one-third of its graduates continue in service to the country.
Book serves as the second-ranking official at the college, responsible for all matters related to academic functions, including curriculum and instruction, research and scholarly activity, accreditation, admissions and financial aid and academic support services. She also leads strategic planning for The Citadel and chairs the Fiscal Review Board. In support of the success of student-athletes, she sits on the Southern Conference Council of Provosts and oversees athletics academic advising for the Citadel’s NCAA Division I programs. Her portfolio includes responsibility for about 1,100 faculty and staff and an operating budget of $144 million. She is a tenured professor in the Department of English, Fine Arts & Communications.
“Dr. Connie Book has been a pleasure to work with over the last several years,” said Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, president of The Citadel. “Her dynamic leadership has set conditions for The Citadel to flourish, developing academic programs to fulfill the objectives in our strategic plan and setting application and enrollment records along the way. Her service to our institution was nothing short of extraordinary. We are proud to see her advance to the presidency of Elon University and look forward to watching the impact of her leadership.”
At The Citadel, Book has launched new programs in nursing, engineering, cybersecurity, intelligence security and advanced STEM education. The new programs were supported by more than $15 million in new gifts, grants and state appropriations. New curricular offerings were designed with several business and government partners, including Boeing, Google and the U.S. Department of Defense. Book also led development of online graduate programs to serve military and federal employees across the country, leading to record growth of The Citadel’s graduate college, significantly increasing annual revenues.
Book has established several new offices at The Citadel – an office of study abroad and domestic programs, an office for undergraduate research and the Center for Teaching Innovation. She also worked with faculty to advance a Faculty Senate governance model, strengthen the academic advising requirement and launch a faculty diversity hiring program that has increased faculty diversity from 17 percent to 22 percent. She also leveraged donor funding to establish a position dedicated to connecting The Citadel’s faculty with neighboring K-12 schools.
Book embraced her groundbreaking position as the highest-ranking female leader at The Citadel, which admitted its first female cadets in 1996. Among her accomplishments has been an increase in the enrollment of underrepresented populations, including women and students of color.
“You can really see the impact – the positive impact – of women at The Citadel every day,” Book told the Charleston Post and Courier newspaper in a 2016 story about the 20th anniversary of the first female students. “They hold leadership roles and positions within the Corps of Cadets. They’re going on to stellar careers within the military and in civilian life and graduate school.”
In 2016 The Citadel also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the admission of its first African American cadet. In an article about that milestone, Book wrote that The Citadel had learned important lessons from racial integration and co-education. “Today the core values of Honor, Duty and Respect are deeply rooted in our leadership education program. We recognize and celebrate our diversity as a competitive advantage in our curriculum and our ability to develop principled and effective global leaders for the military and civilian sectors,” Book wrote.
Sixteen years of Elon experience
Book joined the Elon faculty as assistant professor of communications in 1999, teaching courses in new media, broadcast policy, news writing, research and production. She was promoted to associate professor and was department chair from 2004 to 2006, when she was named associate dean of the School of Communications. Among her responsibilities were the school’s accreditation, faculty development, growth of the internship program, the school’s advisory board and the establishment of the Elon in Los Angeles and the Elon in New York programs.
As faculty fellow for strategic planning from 2008 to 2010, Book coordinated a 24-month process of creating the Elon Commitment strategic plan with input from hundreds of university stakeholders. The 10-year plan includes eight themes that continue to guide Elon’s development as a national university. Among Book’s duties as Elon’s new president will be to lead development of the university’s next long-range plan.
Book was promoted to professor and named associate provost for academic affairs in 2010, with responsibility for the Elon Core Curriculum, the Elon Experiences and student engagement, academic advising, student professional development, staff leadership and professional development, academic and residential facilities, athletic academic advising and domestic study programs. During her tenure, she spearheaded the complete redesign of career services programs and the establishment of the Student Professional Development Center, the creation and implementation of the residential campus plan, enrichments to Elon’s digital learning opportunities, development of the Study USA program and growth of civic engagement initiatives. Book received Elon’s Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award in 2009 for her sustained commitment to undergraduates.
“President-elect Connie Ledoux Book has been my close colleague and friend for the better part of two decades,” Lambert said. “She was a valued member of my senior leadership team for many years and I came to rely on her judgment, insight and innovative and collaborative spirit. She is incredibly smart, deeply understands Elon’s culture and values, and has a warm, engaging way about her. I have every confidence in President-elect Book’s capacity to lead Elon brilliantly, and look forward to watching her continuing success.”
An active scholar and consultant
In addition to her higher education leadership roles, Book continues to work as a telecommunications consultant, specializing in digital television, cable communications and broadband. She is author of “Digital Television: DTV and the Consumer,” the first book dedicated to understanding how the transition from analog to digital television impacted consumers. Her work has received five first-place awards from the National Association of Broadcasters’ educational group and several research grants.
Book’s research has been published in legal and academic journals. She has appeared on panels at the Federal Communications Commission, the National Cable Television Association, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors and regional cable television associations. She is often invited to lecture and moderate discussions on telecommunications issues.
The North Carolina Association of Broadcasters recognized Book with an Outstanding Service and Leadership Award in 2009 for her assistance with the state’s transition to digital television. She testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on the DTV transition in 2008 and that same year received a leadership citation from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors for research on the impact of state cable franchising in Texas.
As an advocate for transparency in government and open public records and meetings, Book conceived, established and served four years as executive director of North Carolina’s Sunshine Center, housed at Elon University, and served two years as a board member for the center’s sponsoring group, the North Carolina Open Government Coalition.
A lifetime passion for teaching and learning
Book was born and raised in Louisiana by parents who were the children of cotton sharecroppers. Her parents took their nine children with them to college in the 1970s on a federally funded program designed to prepare leaders for K-12 education.
“Their example instilled in me a deep belief that opportunities for learning can transform lives, create strong leaders and, in turn, change the world,” Book said. “I often refer to this as the everyday miracle of higher education – the powerful idea that we can learn and forever change our destiny and the future of our families.”
Book earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Louisiana State University, a master’s degree in education administration and supervision from Northwestern State University (Louisiana), and a doctorate from the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia. During her time as Elon’s associate provost, she also completed coursework with renowned higher education scholar and author Richard J. Light at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“Elon University has made an absolutely wonderful selection, choosing Connie Book to be its next president,” Light said. “I couldn’t imagine a more imaginative, creative and likable campus leader. She was an active participant in an advanced graduate class that I led, focusing on challenges facing strong, modern American universities. I think that often Connie taught the students as much as I did. Sometimes even more. Elon University has made a spectacular choice for its next president. Connie Book truly exemplifies excellence.”
Book began her career as a producer and reporter at WAFB-TV, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Prior to joining the Elon faculty, she served three years as assistant professor at Georgia College & State University, one year as visiting professor at North Carolina State University, and two years as assistant professor at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Book’s family includes her son, Joe Book, a 2017 Elon graduate, and her daughter, Bella Book, of Brookline, Massachusetts, a 2015 Mount Holyoke College graduate.