Members of the President’s Student Leadership Advisory Council met with President-elect Connie Ledoux Book at a reception Monday, Oct. 9, 2017.
Students were the first group that President-elect Connie Ledoux Book met with Monday afternoon, following a community gathering in Alumni Gym where she was officially introduced as Elon’s ninth president.
Students from the President’s Student Leadership Advisory Council (PSLAC) were invited to a reception in Lakeside Meeting Room and were encouraged to mingle and ask questions so they could get to know Book before her first day on March 1, 2018.
“Seek me out,” Book said to the group. “Tell me things I may not want to hear. I will appreciate your observations.”
The 40 students in attendance greeted Book with a round of applause and many immediately approached her to introduce themselves. “I think it’s great to be one of the students she meets while she is on campus,” said Jack Hartmann ’19, a computer science major. “I think it’s a cool opportunity. I feel students are the first people she needs to get to know.”
Book didn’t hesitate to ask what was on their minds about the future. The students talked about undergraduate research, recognizing different identities on campus, international students, spaces on campus, diversity, growth and how to best serve the university once they are alumni.
“I really value that this group has been established,” Book said of PSLAC, which started after she left Elon in March 2015 to take a position as The Citadel’s first female provost and dean. “Tell us what is working and not working. I hope that we can have a continued conversation. It’s something I’ve always valued at Elon. We talk to each other.”
PSLAC members have the opportunity to meet regularly with President Leo M. Lambert and talk to him about issues importantant to them. For several students, it’s enabled them to develop a closer relationship with Lambert. They are excited to build the same kind of connection with Book.
“She has big shoes to fill,” said Haley Ebel ’18, an early education major. “It will be weird not to have President Lambert around, but I have confidence that she can fill those shoes. It will be neat to see how she carries on the legacy with PSLAC.”
Max Pivonka ’19, a marketing major and junior class president, noted from Book’s bio that she launched a faculty diversity hiring program at The Citidel that increased faculty diversity from 17 percent to 22 percent. Pivonka wanted to know how she did that.
“I do think it’s critically important to surround yourself with people who are different than you,” Book said. “That’s our greatest strength.” She explained that at The Citadel she was very intentional about her desire to increase diversity. “I told them that we needed them, and I won’t be successful unless they come. It’s important to take away barriers. … I also think it’s important to prepare your campus to welcome them.”