ELON -- Elon University President Leo M. Lambert has informed the Board of Trustees that he will step down as president. The board has launched a search for Elon’s ninth president and Lambert will remain in office until his successor is in place.
According to a press release, Board of Trustees leaders have been working with Lambert to plan a seamless presidential transition. The announcement was made by Lambert to the Elon community on Feb. 13 following the board’s spring meeting. After a sabbatical year dedicated to writing, Lambert will continue service to Elon as president emeritus and professor, and will be available to the new president to primarily support the university’s advancement and alumni engagement offices.
“I believe this is an ideal time for a transition in Elon’s presidency,” Lambert said. “We are completing the final objectives of the Elon Commitment strategic plan and making great progress on the leadership phase of the ‘Elon Leads’ comprehensive fundraising campaign, with a public launch scheduled for 2018. In recruiting a new president at this time, we can ensure continuity of leadership for these key initiatives, as well as anticipate the creation and implementation of the university’s next strategic plan. This will allow Elon to continue to make progress on many fronts as we build a distinguished and distinctive university.
“I expect that 2017 will be an exciting time at Elon,” Lambert said. “We have important goals to pursue and much to accomplish in the months ahead. This will be a year of hard work, anticipation and celebration of our shared achievements.”
Lambert has served as Elon’s president since January 1999. Board of Trustees chair Kerrii Anderson ’79 said Lambert’s extensive record of accomplishments and thoughtful planning of the conclusion of his presidency illustrates why he is one of the nation’s finest academic leaders and why Elon has been so successful during his tenure.
“Leo Lambert has been a dynamic force and an inspirational leader who has propelled Elon to a place of national prominence,” Anderson said. “Over the past 18 years he has dedicated every ounce of his energy to Elon. President Lambert is a man of keen intellect and vision, combining his extensive knowledge of higher education with a compassionate spirit that is evident in the personal relationships he nurtures with thousands of students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of Elon. Leo and his wife, Laurie, have dedicated almost two decades of service to this institution. They embody all that is admirable about our community and I invite everyone to join me in expressing gratitude to them for their remarkable devotion to our university.”
Elon’s development during Lambert’s service as president is historic, creating one of the great success stories in American higher education. A strong advocate for institutional planning, Lambert led the creation and implementation of two ambitious strategic plans – NewCentury@Elon and the Elon Commitment. The result has been the creation of a model for the modern liberal arts university.
“I believe we have created a nationally distinctive university renowned for experiential and engaged learning, with a premium on the quality of human relationships,” Lambert said. “Elon is global in its outlook and committed to preparing the ethical, ambitious and thoughtful leaders our world needs. Our success has been a team effort, the result of a committed Board of Trustees, brilliant faculty and staff, loyal alumni and generous and supportive parents – everyone working together with a shared belief that we are building a university that is making a profound impact.”
During Lambert’s presidency, applications for undergraduate admission have doubled, enrollment has grown from 4,000 to more than 6,700, and full-time faculty numbers have increased from under 200 to 425. During this period of growth, student academic credentials increased, average class sizes dropped and the student-faculty ratio decreased from 16-to-1 to 12-to-1.
Nationally accredited schools of communications, education, health sciences and law have been established and Elon gained a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, achieving the highest standards of quality in the arts and sciences. Today Elon is ranked the #1 Southern University by U.S. News & World Report, up from #16 when Lambert took office, and Elon is recognized by U.S. News more often than any university in the nation for excellence in eight high-impact programs that lead to student success.
Throughout his presidency, Lambert has been an advocate for the highest levels of academic excellence. He increased resources for faculty and supported development of the Elon teacher-scholar-mentor model. Professors who excel in teaching and mentoring students are attracted to Elon’s mission, and the university has increased funding to support faculty scholarship and their partnerships with students in research, scholarly and engaged learning activities. During Lambert’s tenure, Elon has established the Center for Engaged Learning and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning and consistently receives top rankings for excellence in undergraduate teaching.