Elon LEADS with bold ideas

President Connie Ledoux Book reflects on what the community accomplished together through the Elon LEADS Campaign, which concluded Dec. 31, 2022.

Before starting any great undertaking, I like to begin with the question why rather than how.

That was our approach in 2014 when fundraising experts began assisting Elon leaders in planning the university’s next comprehensive campaign. They shared the wise adage that “campaigns are ultimately about ideas” — bold ideas that change the course of a university’s history.

So we asked, why launch this historic campaign and what were our bold ideas? The answers we heard from the community, and the feedback we received throughout seven years of successful fundraising, confirmed that the Elon LEADS Campaign aligned with our shared values.

The campaign became an expression of our priorities and vision for Elon’s future. We focused on four themes, and they all received strong support: increasing financial aid for students who will become graduates the world needs, providing access to engaged learning opportunities, supporting faculty who are teacher-scholar-mentors and further developing our iconic campus.

As we concluded Elon LEADS on Dec. 31, 2022, I reflected on the progress that has changed the course of Elon’s history. We came together and exceeded the campaign goal, raising $260 million, because we believed an investment in Elon is an investment in a better future. We are committed to the work of transforming young people and helping them understand and activate their unlimited potential.

In this edition of The Magazine of Elon, we celebrate the personal stories that have been made possible through Elon LEADS. You will meet students who attend Elon thanks to new endowed scholarships, achieving more than they imagined through the powerful combination of mentoring and academic challenge.

You will read about students who were able to study abroad, complete internships and conduct research thanks to new endowed Elon Experiences scholarships.

Elon LEADS donors endowed faculty chairs in religion, business and education, supporting professors who impact hundreds of students’ lives and set them on a course for successful futures. These faculty are positioned to spend their careers at Elon, providing a long-term intellectual resource for our academic community.

We also know the power of inspiring spaces to bring together people who are full of ideas and expertise. Elon’s new, next-level facilities funded through this campaign have created one of the nation’s most dynamic environments for learning.

I recently took a team of Toyota executives on a tour of several of our new facilities, and we saw it in action. Engineering students in Founders Hall were demonstrating how a newly fabricated biomedical device would do a better job of reading oxygen levels. In a classroom in Richard W. Sankey Hall, students and faculty were engaged in a discussion about artificial intelligence and the ways ChatGPT will impact the future of work. In the Historic Neighborhood, a staff member was engaging with students in the demonstration kitchen in LaRose Student Commons.

We proudly showed off the spectacular Schar Center, then saw The Inn at Elon, the new university-owned hotel on campus that designates profits to support Elon’s educational mission. (I recently met one of the more than a hundred students who are on the “Inn at Elon” scholarship this semester.)

I want to express my humble thanks to the 34,000 donors who turned the aspirations of the Elon LEADS Campaign into reality. Led by our steadfast board of trustees, Elon’s alumni, parents, faculty and staff, students and friends shared their personal resources and volunteered their time and efforts because they believe in our mission.

Your gifts made Elon better in a multitude of ways. You created a legacy that will serve the university and its students far beyond our time. You turned why into wow!