By Ginna Royalty
Students and faculty alike woke up this morning to the shocking information that President Leo Lambert will be stepping down as president sometime in the next year. He plans to remain president until Elon’s ninth president is hired, take a yearlong sabbatical, and then return to Elon as president emeritus and professor.
“You kind of picture your four years at Elon with Leo Lambert as the face of it–it was not what I was expecting to wake up to on a Monday,” said Lindsay Case, sophomore at Elon.
Elon is ranked as the #1 Southern University by U.S. News & World Report, up from #16 when Lambert took office in January 1999. During his presidency, applications for undergraduate admission have double, enrollment has grown from 4,000 to more than 6,700 students and full-time faculty members have increased from less than 200 to 425.
“Leo has been really successful in elevating the institution to a high level of national prominence and I think we can continue to build on that tradition that he’s helped to establish here,” said Associate Dean Grady. “We can continue to provide great opportunities for students and also to support faculty in their work in their teaching and also in their research.”
During Lambert’s presidency, Elon schools of communications, education, health sciences and law have become nationally accredited and Elon has gained a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and has now achieved the highest standards of quality in the arts and sciences. More than 100 buildings on campus have been added to Elon’s campus while Lambert has been president and range from academic facilities to dormitories to athletic facilities.
Tommy Hamzik, executive director for Elon News Network, has work closely with President Lamber over the past year and said, “It’s been really special getting to know him, considering how influential he’s been in Elon’s history and how the Elon we know today as students wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for President Lamber. His commitment to students and commitment to the university is really incredible and it’s something that’s really neat to see up close as a student.”
Elon’s Board of Trustee is forming a 15-member search committee, which will be chaired by trustee and former board chair Wes Elingburg. The committee will include eight trustees, which includes one young alumnus/alumna trustee, three faculty members, two students, one staff member and a member of Elon’s senior staff.
“I certainly wish him the best; he’s made a tremendous positive impact on the university and he’ll be missed in that role and will be appreciated in his new role,” said Phil Smith, owner of The Oak House. ” I would hope that whoever replaces Dr. Lambert would share his enthusiasm for building a vibrant downtown Elon.”
“In recruiting a new president at this time,” Lambert explained, “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. I expect 2017 will be an exciting time at Elon. We have important goals to pursue and much to accomplish in the months ahead.