Everybody needs a break from work, and for Elon University President Connie Book, this downtime comes in the form of table tennis.
On Friday, Oct. 26, Book joined some students in a couple friendly games of pingpong in the Moseley Center.
Book came up with the idea as a way to have some downtime on a Friday afternoon, a break from her busy schedule.
“You can talk while you play table tennis, so that’s one thing that makes it unique in terms of a sport — that you can actually have a conversation while you’re playing,” Book said.
Book saw table tennis as the ideal way to do this while simultaneously finding an opportunity to connect with students.
“I really enjoy hearing about their experiences and what’s happening during the week,” Book said. “It gives me a sense of their interaction on campus and their academics, what’s challenging, and then a lot of them are in student organizations, so I can get an update on what’s happening in the student organizations.”
Sophomore Eric Polite had the opportunity to play against Book. He was impressed when he saw the email from Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley announcing the event.
“It’s super cool. I mean, when I saw the email, I was like, ‘Oh wow, that’s sick.’ You know, she actually cares about getting to know people,” Polite said.
Polite also used this event to compare Book to President Emeritus Leo Lambert.
“That was a big reason people liked Dr. Lambert a lot, just because he was really involved with the community,” Polite said. “I think that as the president of the university, it’s kind of important that you’re not just in your office all the time and that you’re not just some mysterious figure that no one ever sees. It’s cool that she’s trying to put herself into the community like that.”
Senior Kyle Thomas also appreciated a chance to converse with the ninth president of the university.
“It was great,” Thomas said. “You don’t often get an opportunity to just chat with the president of your university.”
Both Polite and Thomas enjoyed the opportunity to connect with Book in a casual way. For Polite, the chance to chat about mundane things with Book helped him to connect with her and put a face to the name.
“We got to chat a little bit about how we got into playing table tennis, which seems pretty — what’s the word? — bland,” Polite said. “But you know, just little stuff like that, getting to humanize someone like that, that you only hear about in emails and see pictures of, it’s cool.”
Through friendly competition and conversation, Book is off to a good start in her time as president and hopes to continue playing these table tennis matches more often.
“People should know who’s running things at their school. A lot of the decisions that she makes are going to affect us in profound ways, so we should know who she is,” Thomas said.