As part of the community events planned for Oct. 9, Book met with Elon staff leaders during a casual campus reception.
For many on the Elon campus, Connie Ledoux Book is a familiar face. After all, she spent 16 years working at Elon before she was named the first female provost and dean in The Citadel’s 175-year history in 2015.
But the campus she returns to has changed since then. And as Mary Morrison reminded staff leaders who attended a casual reception to welcome Book back to Elon as its ninth president, so has Book.
“Although Dr. Book deeply understands and knows Elon University and we know her, for a period of time, we are going to need to get reacquainted,” said Morrison, assistant dean of campus life and director of the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement. “Let’s give her the honeymoon period she deserves to learn and relearn what we are doing. By the same token, let’s give her the opportunity to share with us what she has become.”
Indeed, Book has 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.
As she addressed the more than 20 staff members who attended the welcoming reception, many of whom had worked with her in the past, Book acknowledged she is joining the Elon community in a different role as before, a role that opens new opportunities for her to collaborate with members of Elon’s staff. “I’m thrilled to work alongside you as your president,” she said, adding that one of the things that makes Elon so distinctive is how invested everyone is in the success of the institution.
“When you have the competence of your community, you get to decide who you want to be and then you get to build it,” she said. “It’s a privilege that we get to witness the miracle of education. … I’m thrilled to be with everyday miracle makers.”
For many staff members who were in attendance, the historical nature of Book’s election as Elon’s first female president did not go unnoticed. “It’s not lost on me that we have the first female president in Elon’s history,” said Faith Shearer, associate athletics director and senior woman administrator. “That stirs some pride, not only because she is a woman but because she is so capable.”
Distribution Services Associate Nicki Elliott agreed. As soon as she could, Elliott snapped a selfie with Book and fellow Staff Advisory Council member Belinda Day. “I’m excited that she is a female and to see what she can do in the future.”
For Day, Book’s return to Elon was a homecoming of sorts. “I’m glad that she has come back and I’m excited for what’s ahead. She has come home.”