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77 // The Legacies of Elon’s Leaders

Arrived at Elon in 1985 Favorite Leaders: Gandhi “Humanity is the only true nation.” -Paul Farmer

Tom Arcaro


GET TO KNOW Tom Arcaro

The Legacies of Elon’s Leaders // 78


TURNING LEADERSHIP INTO A GIFT Dr. Tom Arcaro is a professor of sociology who challenges students to consider how their individual actions can impact the larger community. His belief in Paul Farmer’s notion that the “only real nation is humanity” defines his role at Elon University. As the Director of Project Pericles, Arcaro works with Elon students and faculty in implementing global development projects. The program emphasizes the importance of global partnership and scholarship as effective mechanisms for personal growth for all parties involved. Fervent optimism defines Arcaro when he describes his position at Elon University as a privilege and gift. He cites a favorite Steve Prefontaine quote stating, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Arcaro takes this statement quite literally. “I am passionate about honoring the absolute privilege I have to be in this position to facilitate the simultaneous growth of students and their reaching out to people in the world,” Arcaro said. He not only preaches about global citizenship, but he is also an active participant as shown by a recent donation. As a part of Elon faculty, he receives a gift for every five years of service. He thought about getting a “grown up watch,” something he has never owned. Although he may have wanted this watch, he realized that he could use “his gift” for something that others may have needed. Arcaro chose instead to donate his gift of a tent and two sleeping bags to Haitian relief efforts. He describes this

action as reflecting what he would like students to do. Arcaro hopes that his students consider how they can also use their gifts to benefit others. This belief is representative of his selfless leadership. He is not one to boast of accomplishments; rather, he points out the achievements of those surrounding him. “I am humbled daily by peers and colleagues by leadership they show in all kinds of ways and levels,” Arcaro said. “I’m only a conduit through which the essence of Elon is being channeled.” Katie Strickland, a 2010 Periclean and Lumen Scholar, worked with Arcaro on her honors thesis. He served not only as an academic colleague, but also as a personal mentor. Strickland noted her relationship with Arcaro as “a great experience because he is very driven to make a change, to do work that means something and that inspires me to do the same. Many times we just sit around talking about the problems in the world and how we can solve them. It renews my passion for my work and keeps me going.” Sitting at his sunlit desk, Arcaro explains that “I want to honor this gift thoroughly and diligently by passing on whatever I have to students and continuing to help them learn as much as they can [while] at the same time reach out as much as they can.”

Story By Sara Pasquinelli


Arrived at Elon in 1985 Favorite Leaders: Gandhi “Humanity is the only true nation.” -Paul Farmer GET TO KNOW Tom Arcaro 77 // e Legacies of...

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