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Elon University

Elon University

Elon University is a private liberal arts university in Elon, North Carolina. Founded in 1889 as Elon College, Elon offers degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, business, education, health sciences, and law. Elon is organized into six schools, most of which offer bachelor's degrees and several of which offer master's degrees or professional doctorate degrees.

Located in North Carolina's Piedmont region, Elon is situated on a 656-acre suburban campus between the cities of Greensboro and Raleigh. Fewer than twenty percent of Elon's undergraduates are native to the state of North Carolina.

For 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranks Elon tied for 84th overall and 2nd for best undergraduate teaching among national universities in the U.S.[4] Elon also participates in NCAA Division I athletics as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.

Elon University
Former name
Elon College (1889–2001)
MottoNumen Lumen (Latin)
Motto in English
Intellectual and spiritual light
AffiliationNonsectarian/Independent (Historic ties with the United Church of Christ)
Endowment$253.7 million (2018)[2]
PresidentConnie Ledoux Book
ProvostSteven D. House
Academic staff
Students6,791 [1]
Undergraduates6,196 [1]
Postgraduates795 [1]
United States
656 acres (265.5 ha)[1]
ColorsMaroon and Gold[3]
AthleticsNCAA Division I – CAA
Websitewww.elon.edu [49]
Elon University logo.svg
University rankings
U.S. News & World Report[20]84
Washington Monthly[21]282


Presidents of Elon
William S. Long18891894
William Wesley Staley18941905
Emmett Leonidas Moffitt19051911
William Allen Harper19111931
Leon Edgar Smith19311957
James Earl Danieley19571973
James Fred Young19731998
Leo Michael Lambert19992018
Connie Ledoux Book2018

Elon College was founded by the Christian Connection, which later became a part of the United Church of Christ. The charter for Elon College was issued by the North Carolina legislature in 1889. William S. Long was the first president, and the original student body consisted of 76 students. In 1923, a fire destroyed most of the campus, including school records, classrooms, the library, and the chapel. The Board of Trustees voted to rebuild immediately. Many of the buildings that were erected in the years following the fire still stand and make up the bedrock of Elon's campus.

An institution that for many years enrolled mostly North Carolina residents, Elon began to enroll significant numbers of students from the mid-Atlantic states in the mid-1970s, and began to improve its academic standards for admission.[5] By the start of the 21st century, about 68 percent of Elon's students came from out-of-state and were only accepted if they met high academic standards.[6] Elon became known as a selective university[7] and, by 2013, 82% of incoming students were from out of state.[8] Elon's transformation was the subject of an academic study by George Keller of the University of Pennsylvania titled Transforming a College: The Story of a Little Known College's Strategic Climb to National Distinction. The study, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, depicted how Elon transformed itself from a regional religious college to a selective, nationally recognized university.[9]

Elon is no longer affiliated with the United Church of Christ, but is historically related.[10] Elon's mission statement states that the university "embraces its founders' vision of an academic community that transforms mind, body, and spirit and encourages freedom of thought and liberty of conscience," and emphasizes its commitment to "nurture a rich intellectual community characterized by student engagement with a faculty dedicated to excellent teaching and scholarly accomplishment."[11]

On October 9, 2017, the Elon Board of Trustees elected Dr. Constance "Connie" Ledoux Book as the ninth president of the University. Book became Elon's first female President on March 1, 2018.[12]


The university includes Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences; the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business; the School of Communications; the School of Education; the School of Law; and the School of Health Sciences. Master's programs are offered in business administration, interactive media, education and physician assistant studies, and doctoral programs include physical therapy and law. Elon operates on a 4-1-4 academic calendar, including a four-week term in January known as Winter Term.

In 2009, the Phi Beta Kappa Society voted to establish a chapter at Elon.[13]

Elon is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences

Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, offers 51 undergraduate majors within three divisions: the Arts and Humanities, the Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the Natural, Mathematical and Computational Sciences. Elon College is the largest of the university's colleges.

Martha and Spencer Love School of Business

The Martha and Spencer Love School of Business offers undergraduate degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Finance, International Business, Management, and Marketing.[14]

School of Communications

The Elon School of Communications is one of 18 accredited communications programs for private universities in the US by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). The program encompasses 20% of students and is divided into six main concentrations: Journalism, Strategic Communications, Cinema & Television Arts, Communication Design, Media Analytics and Sport & Event Management.[15]

School of Law

The Elon University School of Law opened on August 10, 2006. The School is located in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina in the former city library. Former United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor delivered the Dedication Address on September 19, 2006. The School of Law houses a working court — the North Carolina Business Court.[16]

School of Health Sciences

Established in April 2011, Elon’s School of Health Sciences offers a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program and a physician assistant (PA) studies master’s program.

School of Education

The School of Education offers both licensure and non-licensure undergraduate majors, as well as Master of Education (M.Ed.) and Master of Arts in Higher Education (MHE) degrees.


For the Class of 2020, the University received approximately 10,058 applications from Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Decision, and Transfer Applicants. From the application pool, around 1,500 students enrolled with an acceptance rate of 56%. "[17] The average student coming to Elon in the Class of 2020 had a grade point average of 4.03, an SAT range of 1890-1970, and an ACT range of 27-31."[18]

Rankings and reputation

U.S. News & World Report ranks Elon tied for 84th in 2020 among national universities and ranks Elon 2nd for best undergraduate teaching, 11th "Most Innovative" and 109th for "Best Value" among national universities.[4] Elon is the only university with top-10 rankings in all of U.S. News's “Academic Programs to Look For" categories.[22]

Student body

Elon has a student body of 6,196 undergraduate students and 795 graduate students. Approximately 59.5% of students are female and about 40.5% of students are male. Elon students come from 47 states and 53 countries; the leading suppliers of undergraduates are North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Maryland.[1]


Elon Athletics wordmark

Elon Athletics wordmark

Elon's 17 varsity sports teams, known as the Phoenix, joined the NCAA's Division I Colonial Athletic Association on July 1, 2014 after a decade in the Southern Conference. Intercollegiate sports include baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, soccer, and tennis for men, and basketball, cross-country, golf, indoor track, outdoor track, soccer, softball, tennis, lacrosse, and volleyball for women. The football team competes in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA).

Campus Recreation offers intramural and club sports programs, such as baseball, cycling, lacrosse, flag football, equestrian, swimming, rugby union, triathlon, water skiing, ice hockey and Ultimate Frisbee. During Winter Term the intramurals include bowling, arena football, dodgeball, ultimate frisbee, and a monster golf tournament.

Up until 2000, the mascot of Elon was the Fighting Christian. Early Elon athletic teams were known as the "Christians" with the name "Fighting Christians" gaining popularity by 1923.[23] The nickname was chosen due to Elon's proximity to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Guilford Quakers, and the Duke Blue Devils.[24] As Elon committed itself to diversity, and the number of non-Christian students increased, the decision was made to change Elon's mascot.[25] In 2000, a new mascot was adopted, the Phoenix. The choice came from the 1923 fire that destroyed almost the entire campus and the college's subsequent recovery.


Elon's sports facilities include two gymnasiums, Schar Center, Walter C. Latham Baseball Park, Rhodes Stadium, Hunt Softball Park, Alumni Field House, Koury Field House, six club athletic fields, Worseley Golf Center, and Koury Center, which features the 2,400 seat Alumni Gym, an aerobic fitness center, a weight room, racquetball courts, an indoor pool, and a dance studio. The Jimmy Powell Tennis Center, a twelve-court complex, won an "Outstanding Facility Award" from the United States Tennis Association.[26] The 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) facility at the north end of Rhodes Stadium in the North Athletics Complex is the new headquarters for Phoenix athletics.[27] Construction was completed on the 5,100-seat Schar Center in 2018. The Schar Center is the home to Elon's basketball and volleyball programs, as well as a venue for other major Elon events, such as convocation.[28]


Elon's historic campus is located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, adjacent to Burlington, a city of 50,000. Elon is 20 minutes from Greensboro and within a one-hour drive of many other universities – Duke, NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Greensboro, North Carolina A&T State University, Guilford College, and Wake Forest.

Elon's 656-acre (265.5 ha) campus is divided into seven major neighborhoods: Historic Campus, Central Campus, Global Neighborhood, The Oaks, The Station at Mill Point, Danieley Center, East Neighborhood, The Colonnades, and South Campus. There are 46 residence buildings on campus and 20 major academic buildings. Elon also has numerous lakes and fountains throughout its campus. The Elon College Historic District and Johnston Hall are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[29]

Spike Lee used Elon as one of the university locations for the movie He Got Game. The Alamance Building, Fonville Fountain, and the Moseley Center's outside patio were the setting for the movie's "Tech University."

Campus life

The university has more than 250 campus organizations and programs, including 13 national fraternities and 14 national sororities.

Student Media

The Pendulum, Elon's undergraduate weekly newspaper is published every Wednesday. WSOE, the University's student-run non-commercial campus radio station, has been airing since 1977. ESTV (Elon Student Television) is the Student television station featuring numerous student-created and -run programs.

In 2016, with advice of their faculty advisers, the two largest student media organizations on campus; Elon Local News (ELN) and The Pendulum Newspaper, merged to form the new Elon News Network (ENN). ENN now operates out of the newly constructed newsroom in the McEwen Building of the School of Communications. Following a 2016 expansion of facilities, The School of Communications consists of Iris Holt McEwen Hall, the Snow Family Grand Atrium, Turner Theatre, Dwight C. Schar Hall, Steers Pavilion, and Long Hall, which houses the MA in Interactive Media graduate program and the sport management major.[30]

Extra-curricular organizations

Numerous student government, special interest, and service organizations are represented on campus, including Elon Volunteers, Habitat for Humanity, Model UN, Epsilon Sigma Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Phi Omega, the Inter-Residence Council, the Elon University Student Government Association, and the Student Union Board. Cultural groups on campus include the Asian-Pacific Islander Student Association, Black Student Union, the Caribbean Student Association, Hillel, Intercultural Club, and Spectrum (Gay-Straight Alliance).

Elon is home to the Fire of the Carolinas Marching Band (FOTC), which delivers pre-game, halftime, and occasionally post-game performances at home football games. The band also includes color guard (flag spinning) and dance auxiliary squads.[31]

Religious life

Religious groups on campus include Catholic Campus Ministry, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the Iron Tree Blooming Meditation Society, the Muslim Student Association, Baptist Student Union, and Campus Outreach.[32]

The Jewish population at Elon has grown especially rapidly in recent years, with twelve percent of recent classes self-identifying as Jewish.[33][34] Elon was profiled in Reform Judaism magazine in 2011 as a school which has "gone the extra mile" to make itself more attractive to Jewish students,[35] and since 2013 it has been listed as one of the "top schools Jews choose."[36][37] The Muslim student population is small but has increased dramatically in size in recent years,[38] and a Muslim Student Association formed at Elon in 2011.[32] The Hindu population has also increased in size,[38] Hindu festivals have become an important part of the university calendar,[34] and Hindu students report feeling accepted at Elon.[39]

Elon has worked closely with the Interfaith Youth Core in developing religious diversity and interreligious dialogue.[34][40] The Truitt Center for Spiritual and Religious Life, located within the Numen Lumen Pavilion of the Academic Village, serves a wide variety of purposes and all religious traditions.[41]

Greek life

Elon University recognizes 25 social Greek organizations. Forty-three percent of women and twenty-six percent of men on campus belong to one of the following campus-chartered organizations.

Interfraternity CouncilNational Panhellenic ConferencePanhellenic CouncilProfessional Fraternity Association

Student traditions

At the start of each school year, Elon University holds a New Student Convocation ceremony for first year and transfer students.[42] It is held "Under the Oaks" behind the West Dormitory. Each new student receives their own acorn at the close of the ceremony to symbolize their beginning at Elon. Upon graduation, each student receives an oak sapling, which is supposed to symbolize their growth at the university as well as the growth in their own lives.[43] The use of the acorn and oak sapling is significant because Elon was named after the Hebrew word for "oak" because of the grove of oak trees it was founded on.[44] The Oak Sapling tradition began in 1991, and the Acorn tradition began in 1999 after Leo Lambert became president of the university.[42]

Notable faculty

  • Shane Atkinson – imam and chaplain

  • Connie Ledoux Book – ninth president of Elon

  • Jan Boxill – ethicist

  • Peter S. Brunstetter – Professor of Law, and member of the North Carolina General Assembly

  • Cardon V. Burnham – composer, arranger, conductor, and performer

  • Ann J. Cahill – feminist philosopher

  • Eileen Claussen – American climate and energy policy administrator, diplomat, and executive-in-residence at Elon

  • Geoffrey Claussen – rabbi, Jewish ethicist and theologian

  • David M. Crowe – historian

  • James Danieley – sixth president of Elon

  • James G. Exum – Distinguished Professor of the Judicial Process at the Elon Law School

  • David Gergen – inaugural Isabella Cannon Distinguished Visiting Professor of Leadership at Elon

  • Thomas S. Henricks – professor of sociology

  • David C. Joyce – now president of Brevard College

  • Leo Lambert – eighth president of Elon

  • Sandra Lawson – sociologist, rabbi and chaplain

  • Elliot Mazer – audio engineer and music professor

  • Jon Metzger – Professor of Music and artist-in-residence

  • Paul Neebe – classical trumpeter and former professor of music at Elon

  • Guy Owen – novelist

  • Rebecca Todd Peters – feminist Christian ethicist

  • Jeffrey Pugh – theologian

  • Michael Skube – journalist on the faculty of the Elon University School of Communications.

  • Justin Tornow – dancer and choreographer

  • A. R. Van Cleave – professor of philosophy and football coach

  • Anthony Weston – philosopher and environmental ethicist

  • Tripp York – religious studies scholar

  • James Fred Young - seventh president of Elon

Notable alumni


  • John Decatur Messick – Former President of East Carolina University (1947–1959)

  • H. Shelton Smith – scholar of religion at Duke University

Arts, literature, and entertainment


  • Robert Model – director on the boards of CapMAC, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Piggly Wiggly

Politics and military



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