Our Findings

The vast majority of participants in the forum and focus groups, as well as comments received via the email account, favored retaining the name “Elon College” to designate the college of arts and sciences.  While we were somewhat disappointed by the relatively small number of emails received concerning this issue and by the uneven attendance at the focus groups, we feel that we provided the entire community ample opportunity to participate in the discussion.

Most of the focus groups spent considerably more time discussing the community issue than the name issue.  An exception was the faculty focus group.  Two faculty members felt that retaining the name “Elon College” would be confusing to anyone who wasn’t involved in the immediate process of the move to university status.  Quite appropriately, they asked what was prompting the interest in retaining the name.  Is there some fear that the centrality of the arts and sciences will be lost in the move to university status?  Will the institution gradually lose its focus on undergraduate education?   They made the point that simply retaining a name is inadequate to insure the centrality of the arts and sciences and the continuing importance of the undergraduate experience.  Another faculty member felt that Elon is missing a good opportunity to increase the endowment if we don’t provide a generous donor the opportunity to name the college of arts and sciences.  On the other side, however, was the opinion that retaining the name “Elon College” helps to provide some identity for departments that once were parts of relatively small divisions but have now lost that sense of identity.

Some of the email responses also indicated concern with retaining the name “Elon College.”  An alumnus from the class of 1953 was unhappy about the possibility that the name “Elon College,” which once encompassed the entire institution, would now only refer to a portion of it. A faculty member wrote, “How about selling ‘naming rights’ for A&S?  Then, how about using the general term ‘Elon College’ to refer to the undergraduate portion of our University?”

The vast majority of respondents, however, spoke out in favor of retaining the name “Elon College” to designate the College of Arts and Sciences.   “Elon College” would then refer to the heart of Elon University, the locus for the arts and sciences that remain the foundation of an Elon education.  The SACS focus group addressing the centrality of the arts and sciences has affirmed that as the institution moves toward university status it must remain intentional about emphasizing the centrality of the arts and sciences.   Clearly, designating the College of Arts and Sciences as “Elon College” would serve as a reminder of Elon’s long heritage as an institution of liberal learning and its commitment to remain such.

Among the specific responses, a current student wrote, “Having the name Elon College in anything reminds people of the community and especially the alumni and current students of Elon about the traditions, history, and meaning of Elon.”   Another student currently studying abroad commented, “I believe that the name is part of the history of the school and should we lose it, we would also lose a great part of our identity.”   Another student wrote, “Personally, I feel that Elon College of Arts and Sciences would be a wonderful way to keep the sense of community that Elon currently achieves.”

An alumnus commented, “I believe that with the move to university status in June, it is important to keep a sense of the Elon College tradition associated with the University.   The name Elon College has become associated with academic tradition, success and prestige in many areas of the country.”   Ted Nelson and Jane Nelson McIver, whose great-grandfather (William Samuel Long) was the founder and first president of Elon, wrote:   “We supported changing the college’s name to reflect university status and we also support keeping Elon College as the name of the College of Arts and Sciences. . . . Elon has always been the name, and we believe Elon should forever remain the name of the University and College of Arts and Sciences.”

Additional support for retaining the name “Elon College” to identify the College of Arts and Sciences came from Academic Council.   Council invited John Sullivan to attend its March meeting and present the findings of the task force to that date.   Council voted unanimously in favor of retaining the name “Elon College” for the college of arts and sciences.

Return to Memo from Task Force on the Name of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Continue to Our Recommendations.