School:Elon University

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Overview

Founded in 1889, Elon University is a private institution with an undergraduate enrollment rate of more than 6,000 students. Currently organized into six schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, School of Communications, School of Education, School of Health Sciences, and School of Law, this university allows students to decide from nearly 60 majors. While the curriculum is grounded in the traditional liberal arts and sciences, all first year students are given the option to choose among multiple programs and organizations. As of 2019, Elon University withholds more than 250 organizations ranging from academic honors to undergraduate research associations. In addition to this, Elon University is also currently ranked in #1 for Study Abroad, and #2 for Undergraduate Teaching by the US News and World Report. Students and faculty members at this university are joined in classrooms with a ratio of 12:1 with all faculty and staff members exhibiting vast skills in research, scholarship, and academic affairs. 

Promotes Student Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Elon currently offers a major and a minor in entrepreneurship through the Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship which prepares students to become entrepreneurs in either for-profit businesses or social businesses. While this helps, it is not enough. This program is a registered major and department under the Love School of Business. The business school alone seems to have a monopoly on entrepreneurship and there is not enough interdisciplinary application of design thinking and innovation. Since the Sankey Hall building was established in 2018 the Entrepreneurship professors and Doherty Center and its staff is housed there. Our promotion of I&E seeks to inspire students to create and change the world around them in a variety of majors, requiring widespread faculty support and appeals to creativity that match all kinds of students. The Doherty Center is transitioning to be more interdisciplinary. The entrepreneurship major still focuses on business, startup processes, and design thinking the Doherty Center Director Alyssa Martina is continuously seeking to include new students from other majors. She has established numerous events and programs that are offered as interdisciplinary in focus and the Doherty Center Scholar Interns work at establishing relationships with students across campus. Its signature event is a 24 hour "hackathon" challenge, known as the Elon Innovation Challenge where teams that involve students from different schools take part to solve a wicked challenge. This past year, several universities across the East Coast joined the Challenge. Two other important annual events for the Center are the W.E Do! Women and Entrepreneurship conference and the Black Innovation Matters Conference. Both the Elon Innovation Challenge and the W.E. Do! conference are co-chaired by a UI Fellow. In addition to the innovation major and the Elon Innovation Challenge, Elon University has funded the Center for Design Thinking on campus. This center works with faculty to facilitate workshops for students to learn how to use design thinking in their classes, projects and throughout their lives. Danielle Lake, the director of the Center for Design Thinking, is working on partnering with different organizations on campus, such as the CREDE and the GLC, to bring the campus together and help educate students about how design thinking can be used to create solutions to social justice issues. This is also shown through their work with Design for America, a nationally recognized organization that uses the design thinking process to bring about social change within the Elon community Additionally, students have the opportunity to apply to work as Design Thinking Catalysts through the Center for Design Thinking to help educated their peers on design thinking processes and methods. The Center for Design Thinking is also partnering with the Maker Hub this semester with an event called Pop-Up & Play. This event focuses on helping students bring play back into their lives by using design thinking methods. The Center for Design thinking also offers a one credit winter term course available to students of all majors. Student Made Elon is a program through the Doherty Center at Elon that highlights students who have started their own businesses. This program works with the students to promote their business and is a great opportunity for any students who are already entrepreneurs. Student Made Elon also provides students with a tent at the Elon Farmer's Market if they want to sell their products to the community.


Encouraging Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Elon University’s faculty members curate an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset through independent projects and research publications in collaboration with students. The small ratio of students to professors cultivates a professional and personal relationship that encourages the pursuit of learning outside of the classroom. To allow these collaborations to come to fruition, the university offers many grants and sponsorships for professors in a wide array of disciplines. Not only are research and personal projects supported, but the Center for Advancement of Teaching and Learning utilizes innovation to foster a more inclusive classroom experience and pedagogy. By advocating for these opportunities for students and faculty, innovation and entrepreneurship are widespread and recognized throughout campus. 

Actively Support the University Technology Transfer Function

Although we do not have anything on campus that falls into this category as of right now, one of our prior cohort's prototypes involved the addition of a new office to the "Instructional & Campus Technologies" department named "Protection for You". The office would work on informing students and faculty on patents, copyrights, and trademarks. In addition, the office would simply answer any questions students may have or guide students in the proper direction. 

Facilitating University - Industry Collaboration

Elon is located in the Triad and is very close to the Research Triangle. Our Student Professional Development Center works to connect students with businesses in both of these areas. In addition, Elon also hosts large job and internship fairs that bring in startups and large companies from around the US, like Deloitte and Oracle. Because Elon is surrounded by many other universities with strong research focuses, it can be difficult to attract larger research projects. Despite this struggle, Elon has been able to build meaningful relationships and provide opportunities for collaboration with some smaller local companies. For example, our Environmental Department has been involved with doing some really neat testing for products that will be sold to Kobalt. Working on similar projects with other local businesses and throughout other Elon departments is something we could definitely continue to push for as a Leadership Circle. To do this we will need to continue to build connections by reaching out to local companies to see what types of projects and research that Elon students could help progress. Additionally, because we are such a small school compared to schools like NC State, Elon could also benefit from reaching out to these other, larger universities. Creating a connection between these schools could expand the network of opportunities not only for Elon students but for college students all around North Carolina.

Engaging with Regional and Economic Development Efforts

Elon has made a lot of progress in this area and our plans are to continue to make huge leaps and bounds here. The town of Elon and the surrounding area were hit hard when the textile companies left. Over the next 20 years our university has major priorities to help build up the areas around Elon and create an environment that will bring in more business and attract students and faculty. We have also invested in offices in downtown Burlington and Greensboro that are specifically geared toward community engagement, innovation, and entrepreneurship. These efforts are only possible with the support of the entire university so we plan to help out in whatever way we can. Initially it will be important to do surveys and studies on other universities that have accomplished similar goals. One example that we have looked at is Duke University, which has helped transform Durham over the years. The University has also invested capital into local education. A new elementary school, funded by Elon University, opened its doors for the first time to students in the fall of 2018. Additionally, Elon Academy, apart of Elon's Center for Access and Success, is a program that assists high school students in the area surrounding Elon. Elon Academy aims to aid families with financial need or families with little to no history in college. 

Next Steps

Interdisciplinary innovation (not just through business school)

  • Creating I&E culture (forums, speakers, discussions, LLC, awards, more student businesses, etc.)
  • Marketing (using Pendulum, career fair, and likely social media to advertise our events)
  • Identifying all possible sources that can stimulate innovation (for funding, advice, etc.)


Since Elon is essentially starting from "stage 1," we must do everything we can to get more students to start businesses, non-profits, organizations, etc. and truly ingrain creativity into our culture.

Elon University Landscape Canvas

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Related Links

Elon University

Elon University Student Priorities

University Innovation Fellows

Fall 2020: Christina Wyatt, Haydn Stucker, Jakob Reuter, Jane Ragland, Maggie Cox, Riley Corvin, Zoë Rein

Fall 2019: Alaa Suleiman, Julia Perline, Lilly Rothschild, Sam Gans

Fall 2018: Gillian HookSydney Thornton

Spring 2018: Yousaf KhanRegan O'DonnellNoor IrshaidatHaley Brengartner 

Spring 2017: Josh CadoretteBriana BradyJames SetzerNick Smith

Spring 2016: Elizabeth JordanGabrielle VanceSean WebberKyle McKinleyWilliam Kakavas

Spring 2015: Ben DriscollJensen RollMatt SnowGiles Roll