By Christina Elias
President Leo Lambert has announced his plan to step down, launching a yearlong search for the ninth president of Elon University.
Lambert made the announcement in an email to the Elon community around 8 a.m. Monday morning. His email included a video message about the transition that will happen over the next year.
According to Paul Parsons, dean of the School of Communications, the projected date of his official resignation is Jan. 1, 2018. Parsons said he received a courtesy call from Lambert on Saturday, Feb. 11 informing him of the decision.
“I appreciated the courtesy call,” he said. “It was a shock to me. I have only known Elon with Leo Lambert as the president, so I have to adjust to the thought of Elon with a new president.”
According to a press release, Lambert informed the Board of Trustees of his plans to step down in the next year during a meeting Friday, Feb. 10.
Lambert will go on a writing sabbatical for a year after completion of the search, during which he will remain in office. Eventually, he will return to Elon as president emeritus and professor. He plans to continue to work with the university’s advancement office and alumni engagement efforts after his return.
“In recruiting a new president at this time we can ensure the continuity of leadership for these key initiatives, as well as anticipate the creation and implementation of the university’s next strategic plan,” Lambert stated in the press release. “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.”
Senior Charlie Perschau said he didn’t know Lambert personally, but he thinks the long-time president deserves to enjoy some time off.
“I hope that whoever it is has the best qualities that Leo has, but also has their own vision too,” Perschau said.
Sophomore Kristin Moore said she thinks the next president should be open to change, to hearing other’s opinions, experienced, compassionate, honest and willing to uphold the Honor Code.
“I fully support President Lambert and his decision,” she said. “I know he’s doing it with the best intentions.”
Lambert, who has been held his position since January of 1999, led the university’s transition from college to university, in addition to expansions and raised academic standards.
Under Lambert’s leadership, undergraduate admissions applications have doubled, enrollment has increased from 4,000 to more than 6,700 students, and numbers of faculty have more than doubled. Despite growing numbers, average class sizes and the student-faculty ratio both decreased.
He oversaw the construction of almost 30 academic, residential, athletic and recreational facilities.
“I have witnessed firsthand the extensive development of this university under his leadership,” Parsons said. “And he certainly has been supportive of the School of Communications through the years.”
“After being a university president for 18 years, he deserves some time off,” he said.