Leo M. Lambert, PhD

President, Elon University

The INSIGHT Into Diversity Giving Back Award honors college presidents and chancellors who go above and beyond their everyday duties to give back to their institutions and communities. President Lambert was nominated by colleagues and selected by INSIGHT Into Diversity as a 2016 Giving Back Award recipient for his dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion and encouraging community service both on his campus and in the surrounding community. 

Supported Programs
Community Impact Fellowship, a service initiative to bring early childhood education to low-income and minority children in the county; the Center for Access and Success, which houses programs that create pathways from early education through college; the “It Takes a Village” Project, which works to support young children in the region — 90 percent of whom are from racial or ethnic minorities — who find reading daunting; Administrative Fellows, a program that pairs faculty members with senior administrators

Fostering Community Service
Lambert helped establish the Staff Service Sabbatical for staff working on service projects and provides paid time off for all employees to volunteer. He also supports the Council on Civic Engagement, an effort to support faculty and staff who conduct scholarship in the areas of civic engagement and community-based research. In addition, Lambert was the vision and funding behind Elon University’s Periclean Scholars program, through which student teams work in partnership with communities to provide sustainable, positive change.

Aiding Low-Income Families
In 2007, after hearing of the underachievement and potential closure of a nearby high school, Lambert established the Elon Academy for promising local high school students whose families demonstrate significant financial need, many of whom are first-generation, Hispanic and African American students. Currently, at least 85 percent of Elon Academy scholars are on track to graduate, including 100 percent of African American male participants.

Awards and Recognitions
Inaugural recipient of the William M. Burke Presidential Award for Excellence in Experiential Education from the National Society for Experiential Education; Periclean Service Award from Project Pericles

Providing a Religious Sanctuary
With Lambert as president, Elon — where 10 percent of the students are Jewish — was named a “Small and Mighty” Hillel campus.

Nomination Excerpt
“Lambert has a national reputation for a commitment to community service and civic engagement. … His interest in diversity and inclusion is born out of a genuine desire to celebrate the richness of all humanity and the belief that the university experience should reflect the larger world.”