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Professor Dr. Leo Lambert

Professor of education and a president emeritus of Elon University, United States

In this keynote session, Dr. Lambert will address critical questions such as: How does investing in honors education lead to institutional improvement overall? Why are mentoring relationships between faculty and students, long a hallmark of honors education, essential to a quality undergraduate education for all students? How did Elon reinvent itself by relentlessly focusing on the quality of the undergraduate student experience? Dr. Lambert will draw from his recent research, a 15-campus study about the importance of mentors in the lives of undergraduate students, which is the basis of a new book he is co-authoring with Dr. Peter Felten, a renowned expert on the scholarship of teaching and learning (Johns Hopkins University Press, summer 2020).

Leo Lambert is a professor of education and a president emeritus of Elon University, where he served as president from 1999-2018. During his tenure as president, Lambert led two, ten-year strategic plans for the campus that propelled Elon from a regional college to one of the top-100 universities in the United States. A chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious academic honor society in the U.S., was established at Elon in 2010 following major investments in arts and sciences programs, world languages, honors, and support for faculty scholarship. Elon’s professional schools of business, law, health sciences, communications and education also achieved top accreditations and distinctions during his presidency. Today Elon is recognized widely throughout the U.S. for excellence in experiential learning, including its programs in study abroad, undergraduate research, civic engagement and community service, and interfaith cooperation. More than 100 buildings were added to Elon’s campus during Lambert’s presidency.

Lambert is the coauthor of The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most and a forthcoming book from the Johns Hopkins University Press (with Peter Felten) about placing meaningful mentoring relationships at the heart of undergraduate education. A recognized leader in higher education, Lambert currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Governing Boards and has previously served on the boards of the American Council on Education, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. In 2009, he received the inaugural William M. Burke Presidential Award for Excellence in Experiential Education from the National Society for Experiential Education.


"Honors Education as a Catalyst to Institutional Transformation"

In his book, Transforming a College: The Story of a Little-Known College’s Strategic Climb to National Distinction (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014), the late George Keller chronicles Elon University’s rise from a small, regional institution to a leader in innovative undergraduate education in the United States. During this period of transformation, Elon invested heavily in academic quality and experiences for talented students, including the all-University Honors Program, the Lumen Prize for undergraduate research, and the establishment of the Office of National and International Fellowships to encourage students to pursue post-graduate awards such as Fulbright. At the same time, Elon became a national leader in championing “high-impact practices” in undergraduate education (international study, undergraduate research, civic engagement, first-year seminars, senior-year capstone experiences, internships, residential learning communities and writing across the curriculum) for all students. Today, Elon is recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a top-ten institution in the U.S. for each of these experiential learning programs.

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