State of Alamance: President Book focuses on impact of university on local community

President Connie Ledoux Book was a panelist in the Triad Business Journal's annual State of Alamance event held Friday, Aug. 9, at Alamance Community College. 

President Connie Ledoux Book underscored the strong connections between Elon and the communities that surround the university during the Triad Business Journal's State of Alamance event held Friday, Aug. 9, at Alamance Community College. 

The annual discussion hosted by the regional media outlet brings together community and business leaders for a dialogue on the challenges and triumphs Alamance County is experiencing. Book was joined on the panel by Vicki Moran, interim president of Alamance Regional Medical Center, Impact Alamance President Tracey Grayzer and Traci Butler, a senior vice president at LabCorp, with Triad Business Journal Editor-in-Chief Lloyd Whittington moderating. 

The event began with a keynote address by Allen Gant Jr., chairman of Glen Raven Inc. and an Elon University trustee, who challenged the community to come together to identify top priorities, and then to commit to investing in them and overcoming the challenges that stand in the way. With its geography, people and resources, Alamance County has a lot to be proud of and a lot of assets to propel it forward, he said. 

But Gant ticked off statistics, including median income, poverty levels and educational attainment, that demonstrate areas where the county lags, noting that the county still has a long way to go. 

"Imagine what could happen in Alamance County if we take advantage of the assets and resources we have, and we deploy them together — that we come together for all of our residents," Gant said. "If we are willing to come together and leverage those assets and resources, we have absolutely endless possibilities going forward."

The discussion offered the opportunity for Book to share about the impact a number of community partnerships are having on the lives not just on those who study, teach and work on campus, but those in the surrounding areas. Programs such as Elon Academy and the It Takes a Village Project help prepare local school children for success in school and open the doors to a college education, Book said. 

Book recounted attending a celebration this spring for the 10th class of Elon Academy, made up of 17 students graduating from high school who had collectively been offered nearly $4 million in merit-based college financial aid. Many this fall will become the first in their families to pursue a college degree, and since their first year in high school, they've bonded with each other and Elon students, faculty and staff as they have excelled academically and navigated the challenging process of applying to college.

"The talent pipeline is absolutely going to change the future of Alamance County," Book said. "The question is how do we scale programs like these."

Book also spoke about the service-year programs with community partners such as Cone Health that place new Elon graduates with community partners that are focused on health, community wellness and education. Each year, six new Elon alumni are named Elon-Alamance Health Partners and Kenan Community Impact Fellows. They spend the next year fully engaged in efforts to address issues in the community with organizations such as Impact Alamance, Alamance Regional Medical Center, the Alamance County Health Department, Healthy Alamance and Alamance Achieves. 

"From my perspective, this is a values-based program for the university," Book said. "It's driving a civic engagement-minded graduate. One of the key things we work on with our graduates is getting them ready to be good citizens."