Special College Coffee honors Leo and Laurie Lambert

Elon students, faculty and staff gathered in Alumni Gym Tuesday, Feb. 27, to recognize President Leo M. Lambert and Laurie Lambert for their 19 years of service to the university.

College Coffee was bittersweet on Tuesday, Feb. 27, as the Elon community gathered in a crowded Alumni Gym to honor and celebrate President Leo M. Lambert at his last College Coffee as Elon’s eighth president.

For one last time, students, faculty and staff shared coffee, conversation and maroon-and-gold doughnuts, made especially for the occasion, with the man who gave Elon 19 years of service.

Lambert concludes his service as president Feb. 28, and President-elect Connie Ledoux Book begins March 1.  

>> See photos from the event.

On behalf of faculty and staff, Provost Steven House, Staff Council Chair Brian Chandler and Academic Council Chair Phillip Motley presented Lambert with the Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award. The award is given annually to a faculty or staff member who has demonstrated a sustained commitment to Elon students through outstanding mentoring.

“President Lambert exemplifies every facet of this award and is, perhaps, the greatest mentor we have on our campus,” House said. “He is someone beloved by students, faculty and staff, who has taught the entire campus about the power of relationships and mentoring.”

Lambert is the 11th person to be honored with the Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award, which was established by Tom and Beth Ward P ’05, ’08, ’14, their sons, A.T. ’05, Christopher ’08 and Chase ’14, and Tom Ward’s mother, Dorothy Mears Ward GP ’05, ’08, ’14.

Among the programs and centers that Lambert has founded and supported during his tenure are those focused on mentoring, including the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, the Center for Engaged Learning, the Odyssey Program, Elon Academy, Center for Access and Success, the Student Professional Development Center and the Office of National and International Fellowships.

“President Lambert has invested countless hours to personally mentor thousands of students, faculty, staff and alumni and is considered a national leader in higher education,” House said.

Senior Morgan Bodenarain, Student Government Association executive president, presented Lambert with a carved wooden acorn on behalf of the student body.

“We remember convocation, receiving our own acorns and hearing you map out an empowering vision of what our futures could look like at Elon,” Bodenarain said. “Each and every individual experience we have had as Elon students was uniquely and incredibly shaped, thanks to your leadership for the past 19 years.”

Laurie Lambert was also recognized for her service to the university. “Nearly all of us gathered here today have enjoyed her warm spirit and caring smile. Mrs. Lambert has also been a tireless advocate for women’s athletics and has supported and traveled with Elon athletes around the globe,” said Kebbler Williams ’98, a member of the Elon University Board of Trustees as she shared with the crowd the two special honors given in tribute to the Lamberts.

Trustees have renamed the Academic Village section of campus the Lambert Academic Village and have established the Laurie Lambert Scholarship, which will be awarded annually to an outstanding member of the women’s basketball team.

At the event, students who work with Live Oak Communications, a student-run communications agency, were at hand to take photos of attendees with signs that said #LongLiveTheLamberts. They were inviting the Elon community to express thanks to the Lamberts via social media.

“We wanted to thank them in the biggest way possible,” said sophomore Crosby Melendi, a member of the Live Oak team. “President Lambert is known as a celebrity at Elon to all students. It’s honestly surreal. I know that a ton of students have come to this College Coffee because it’s his last one. It’s a little bittersweet. He’s done so much for Elon. It’s definitely going to be a big change. Elon’s definitely a better place because he’s been here for so long.”

President Lambert was visibly moved by the outpouring of support and recognition. “It’s just a great feeling to leave this job knowing that we have accomplished a lot of great things together, and I’ve been so honored by your colleagueship and to be the president of a university with such amazing students,” he said. “What a life’s privilege that has been. Thank you.”

He is leaving Elon with admiration and respect for his successor. “Connie Book is going to be a brilliant ninth president of Elon University, and I know that with your support and your love and encouragement and our characteristic Elon teamwork that you are going to bring this university to even higher levels of distinction,” he said.

President Lambert then raised his hand and waved to the crowd. “We love you. Long live Elon.”