DTH: Were there any special events on campus in honor of your first day?
CB: I had breakfast with three different groups: the Physical Plant, who takes care of the campus, I had breakfast with students, and I had breakfast with Campus Safety. Then we had a ceremony where we wrote down our hopes for the future of the university. Elon is Hebrew for oak, so we planted an oak tree to mark the beginning of my presidency. We had a picnic in the evening. I went to a couple of classes that afternoon and talked with students. We had a women’s basketball game, so I had a chance to sit with a group of students for that.
DTH: What’s your background?
CB: I went to (Louisiana State University) for my undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism. I earned my master's in educational administration, and then the Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. It was from the Grady School of Journalism, but I focused on telecommunications, and I studied television, cable and broadband.
DTH: What brought you to Elon?
CB: We have a great school of communications here, and I came as a faculty member in 1999. And then after I earned tenure I served as department chair and associate dean there, and the president asked (me) to help provide leadership for Elon University’s strategic plan back in 2008. And so I did that, and after that had an opportunity to provide leadership as an associate provost here at Elon and then left in 2015 to become the provost at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. Then when the president of Elon announced his retirement, I had the opportunity to apply to become president. So I’m coming back to Elon having been away at The Citadel.
DTH: How did it feel to come back to Elon in a new role?
CB: It feels great. This will be my 17th year at Elon, but I’ll tell you, it doesn’t feel that way because Elon is a university that is constantly changing. It’s a nimble school. There’s no ivory tower. It’s a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-work university, and it’s doing great things. I had a sense of returning, but also the sense that it’s new — and a lot has changed within three years. I’m doing a lot of listening and asking questions and getting reacquainted.
DTH: Speaking of changes, you are the first female president at Elon, correct?
CB: That is correct. I am the first woman to serve as president here and was the first woman to serve as provost at The Citadel, where I was the number two ranking official at the college.
DTH: What are you passionate about? And what do you hope to accomplish at Elon?
CB: I will say that my passion is creating really effective learning environments that aid young people to have the careers and the personal lives they deserve. I have a passion for that, and I think that in my work as president I want to make sure I raise resources to help facilitate people’s ability to attend an institution like Elon, where we keep class sizes small and we have a beautiful campus that’s residential. I do see that as one of my fundamental responsibilities. Also, making sure the University has a strong future, so leading an effort on campus to articulate the next strategic plan and where we will focus our energy for the next ten years.