Beneath the bright lights of the recently completed Schar Center, Elon University President Connie Book laid out her plans for the upcoming year during her first annual President's Address Monday morning.
Book praised Elon's recent successes — a record-breaking number of applicants, more than 180 Odyssey Scholarships now available, the university's position as the No. 1 in job placement in North Carolina and the creation of new student cohorts. But as the university begins its 129th year, the president's eyes are on the future.
During the 2018-2019 academic year, Book said she plans to focus on promoting wellness, reflecting on Elon's history, advancing the culture of innovation, completing The Elon Commitment strategic plan and preparing to launch the next strategic plan.
To address wellness on campus amid increasing rates of student anxiety and depression, Book announced two new programs: Well Connected and Phoenix Walks.
The Well Connected campaign will focus on the creation of a six-week long program to benefit students' overall well-being. "This will help students form strong relationships and develop healthy habits of behavior as early as possible," Book said.
Phoenix Walks will take place every Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. around campus. Book said this program was inspired by her experiences at The Citadel where she participated in mandatory exercises at 5:15 a.m.
Three counselors have also been added to Elon's staff, and they will be available to students in the Koury Center, where Student Health & Wellness will be relocated. Book said these announcements are just the first of many to come as part of a larger campaign "to promote and make more visible the importance of student well-being."
Book announced the start of another project, The Elon Commemoration Project, to study and reflect on the university's history for the next two years: stories still in-progress and untold stories that have been overlooked.
"After all, part of making Elon a place that is welcome to all, is ensuring that everyone can find themselves in our story, and find it with dignity," Book said.
Professor of history and Chair of the department of history and Geography Charles Irons, Assistant Professor of history Andrea Sinn and Executive Director of the Center for Engaged Learning and Professor of history Peter Felton proposed and will lead the project along with other members of the Elon community moving forward.
As the current strategic plan, The Elon Commitment, ends this year, Book said she is already looking ahead to the future.
The next strategic plan will be co-chaired by Jeff Stein, associate vice president and chief of staff, and Kerrii Anderson, former chair of the Board of Trustees.
Book said she wants every member of the Elon community to have a voice in the process of creating the next strategic plan. A new suggestions box has been installed at the front desk of the Moseley Student Center and an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, created for this purpose.
Book said she wants every member of the Elon ommunity to have a voice in the process of creating the next strategic plan. A new suggestions box has been installed at the front desk of the Moseley Student Center and an email address, email@example.com, created for this purpose.
"Higher education is challenging," Book said. "But at Elon, we're looking ahead, paying attention and we are responding."