Book, a former Elon University faculty member and administrator, most recently served as provost of The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and she impressed Elon's presidential search committee and board with her strong leadership there.
Announcing Book's appointment in October 2017, the chair of the board of trustees, Kerrii Anderson, said Book's "distinguished 16-year career at Elon, combined with her senior leadership experience at The Citadel, made her the unanimous choice," adding, "Connie Book has a deep appreciation of Elon’s history, culture, academic programs and student-centered values.
Anderson noted that Elon's choice of a female president is a "historic milestone" for the institution. "She is the right leader at the right time and we look forward to the ways she will advance our university."
“I am thrilled and humbled to be chosen as Elon’s ninth president,” Book said. “Elon is one of America’s greatest success stories in higher education, defined by excellence in academics, experiential learning, global engagement and close relationships between students and their faculty and staff mentors. It has been a great honor to be associated with Elon through much of my professional life and I return to campus with enthusiasm to work with my colleagues to write the next defining chapters in the university’s history.”
Inside the Search
Book succeeds Leo M. Lambert, who was appointed to the Elon presidency in 1999 and raised Elon's national profile significantly during his long tenure. Julie E. Tea, Shelly Storbeck, and Anne Koellhoffer led the search, partnering with a search committee composed of trustees, students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff, led by trustee Wes Elingburg.
The search committee adopted a hybrid search model, with an open phase at the beginning allowing nearly 7,000 members of the Elon community to provide input via a survey and campus forums. In the second phase, the Storbeck/Pimentel team contacted nearly 1,000 people about the search and assembled a wide pool of distinguished candidates, which was winnowed further by the committee before proceeding with two rounds of interviews. Two finalists participated in the third phase, which included meetings and one-on-one sessions with more than 60 Elon trustees, faculty, staff, students, and deans. Based on the results of this extensive evaluation process, the search committee unanimously recommended Book to the board of trustees.
“Consistently, we heard from candidates that the Elon presidency was one of the top professional opportunities in higher education,” Elingburg said. “We gave serious consideration to many talented and impressive candidates. From the beginning, Connie Book stood out above all others. She is a passionate mentor for students, a skilled administrator with extensive knowledge of all aspects of the university and a strategic thinker who understands the challenges and opportunities facing higher education."
Service at The Citadel
In March 2015, Book was named the first female provost and dean in The Citadel’s 175-year history. In addition, she led strategic planning and chaired the Fiscal Review Board. In support of the success of student-athletes, she sat on the Southern Conference Council of Provosts and oversaw athletics academic advising for the Citadel’s NCAA Division I programs. Her portfolio at The Citadel included responsibility for about 1,100 faculty and staff and an operating budget of $144 million. She was a member of the faculty in the Department of English, Fine Arts & Communications.
Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, president of The Citadel, said on Book's departure, “Her dynamic leadership has set conditions for The Citadel to flourish, developing academic programs to fulfill the objectives in our strategic plan and setting application and enrollment records along the way. Her service to our institution was nothing short of extraordinary."
At The Citadel, she launched new programs and majors, supported by more than $15 million in new gifts, grants, and state appropriations. She also led development of online graduate programs to serve military and federal employees across the country, leading to record growth of The Citadel’s graduate college, significantly increasing annual revenues. She introduced advances in governance, academic advising, and faculty diversity hiring. Among her many accomplishments was an increase in the enrollment of underrepresented populations, including women and students of color.
Book has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Louisiana State University, a master’s degree in education administration and supervision from Northwestern State University and a doctorate from the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia.