At the Elon University 2021 opening day ceremony, President Connie Book announced the renaming of Iconic Plaza to Medallion Plaza, to honor the service of both individual medallion recipients and the Elon community as a whole. Book also discussed the Boldly Elon strategic plan and what the upcoming academic year will hold.

Medallion Plaza

The Elon Medallion is awarded at the discretion of the university president, and it is the highest honor one can be awarded for service to the university. The late Charles E. Kernodle Jr. ‘38 was presented with the medallion last year during the virtual opening ceremonies. This year, Book recognized the Ready and Resilient Committee, as well as the greater Elon community, for their work throughout the past year.

“The committee’s efforts are truly symbolic of the larger community,” Book said. “Each of you provided service at the highest level and at the most critical time, so that our university and our community could persevere.” 

Boldly Elon

The university put several projects from the strategic plan on hold last year, such as the construction of the Innovation Quad, and took a 5% budget reduction for the past two years. Despite the changes the university and community faced, Book said Elon University believes in the power of change and looks forward to carrying out the strategic plan.

“We are different people than we were 18 months ago. We live in a different world,” Book said. “Elon is a different institution. But what hasn’t changed from my seat is the critical importance of the mission of the university.”

The university is welcoming its first class of students pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing and its first cohort in the accelerated bachelor of nursing program. The ‘Learn’ theme within the strategic plan introduced initiatives in science, technology, engineering and math programs across campus. The plan included both the School of Engineering as well as the nursing program.

Elon University will also be researching the power of mentorship, through both faculty research and the speaker series throughout the 2021-22 academic year.

As part of the ‘Thrive’ portion of the strategic plan, the university will be considering the configuration of campus recreation and wellness services, as well as the Koury and Alumni Gym buildings. 

“This is an exciting moment as we work to prioritize wellness and wellbeing as not only essential to student success, but to everyone’s success,” Book said.

In creating ‘Thrive,’ the strategic planning committee combined the research of past initiatives like the 2015 Presidential Task Force on Social Climate and Out-of-Class Engagement and the Council on Wellness and Well-Being to create a holistic approach, ensuring every individual will experience a greater sense of belonging on Elon’s campus.

The Office for Inclusive Excellence has a new website outlining the university’s progress on goals related to diversity, equity and inclusion. As part of ‘Thrive,’ the plan marked an increased commitment to support offices on campus devoted to students of marginalized and underrepresented groups and their success.

Looking ahead

On Sept. 4, the university will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Rhodes Stadium and honor the contribution of Peggy and Warren G. “Dusty” Rhodes. The husband and wife pair are two of the university’s largest donors. The university will also be marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with “more somber events,” according to Book. 

The class of 2020 will be welcomed back on Sept. 5 for graduation. Nearly 800 students out of the 1,300 in the class of 2020 will be returning to campus. Throughout graduation weekend, a number of events will take place, including the Donning of the Kente ceremony, Lavender graduation, the class of 2020 Family tailgate and the Elon v. Wofford football game.