President Book offers annual update to community supporters

More than 100 people from the Alamance County community gathered in the Schar Center Thursday morning to hear from President Connie Ledoux Book about what's new on campus and what's coming this academic year. 

Against the backdrop of the main arena inside Schar Center, members of the Alamance County community received an annual update from President Connie Ledoux Book on Thursday morning as the campus prepares to begin a new academic year. 

The nearly 100 people gathered on the Schar Center concourse received an overview of two major construction projects on campus that are nearing completion and the university's strategic planning process, which will produce a new 10-year plan this fall. They heard from two of Elon's new coaches and learned about Elon's reclassification as a doctoral/professional university, a change that recognizes Elon's place as a growing, national university. 

The president's Community Update comes as the university prepares to welcome the members of the Class of 2023, who will move to campus on Aug. 23. The gathering was a recognition of the strength of the bonds between Elon and the communities that surround and support it. "There is no question that we are better when we're working together," Book told the crowd. "Community relationships are one of the centerpieces of our new strategic plan."

Before the gathering got underway, attendees had the opportunity to view up-to-date renderings of the interior of the Inn at Elon, the 80-room hotel that is now being built on the north end of campus and which will open in January. Fabric swatches, granite and wood samples and other examples of the finishes within the boutique hotel and conference center were available for people to view to get a sense of the interior. 

During her remarks, Book explained that the Inn at Elon is owned by the university and will be operated by Charlestowne Hotels, which runs hotels on nearly a dozen other college campuses. The profits generated by the Inn's operation will be used by the university to support scholarships for students, a unique operating model that speaks the emphasis Elon is placing on increasing financial aid. 

​"Everyone is really excited about the opportunities that the Inn is going to create," Book said. 

Book provided a progress report on the construction of LaRose Student Commons, a new building in the Historic Neighborhood that will provide a new gathering point for residents of the neighborhood located near the heart of Elon's campus. The two-story, 10,000-square-foot facility that neighbors the Mooney Building and the Long Building is scheduled to open in September. 

"LaRose Commons will be a place where students can develop those powerful relationships that last a lifetime," Book said. 

The president shared recent recognitions for Elon, which this week was named the best-run college in the country, with the most beautiful campus in the country, by The Princeton Review, a college guide that reflects feedback from students. She shared that Elon has been reclassified by The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education to now be in the newly created "doctoral/professional universities" category. 

​One result from the change is that this fall, Elon will be listed in the national universities category by the U.S. News & World Report college rankings. Elon had previously been considered by U.S. News to be a regional university, with Elon topping the list of universities in the South region for many years. The change creates a new group of peer and aspirational institutions for Elon, Book said. 

"We're going to learn a lot, and we're going to continue to advance," Book said. 

The Community Update offered the opportunity to introduce two new coaches at Elon who will start their first seasons with the Phoenix this year. Tony Trisciani now serves as head coach for Elon's football program, and Mike Schrage is the head coach of the men's basketball program. Mike Ward, deputy director of athletics, told the crowd that this year will mark another new step forward for Elon. 

"We've really found our footing in Division I athletics, and I believe our best times are ahead of us," Ward said.