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Opening Doors: Estate gift to endow a scholarship in the Odyssey Program

Inspired by Elon's commitment to scholarship funding, retired faculty member Nancy Midgette, of Montreat, North Carolina, decided to support students in the Odyssey Program with her gift.

Throughout her 31-year career at Elon, Nancy Midgette faithfully supported scholarships to allow students to take advantage of everything Elon has to offer, including its renowned engaged learning programs.

“I remember the very first gift I made to Elon was to help students pay for a study abroad experience,” recalls Midgette, who retired from the university in 2016 as professor emerita of history and former associate provost.

Midgette continued her strong support of Elon by making an estate gift in 2011 to help secure the university’s future. Recently, she decided to designate that gift to fund a scholarship in the university’s Odyssey Program, helping to support a key institutional priority. The scholarships in this highly selective program help make an Elon education possible for students with exceptional ability and significant financial need. Many of the students are the first in their families to attend college.

“I have known and taught a number of students in the Odyssey Program, and I recognize the need they have in order to attend Elon,” Midgette said.

She believes that investing in students is a great investment in the future.

“It was the right decision for me to make because cost is always going to be a concern,” Midgette said. “I don’t want students not coming to Elon just because of the cost, because the experiential education that comes with being an Elon student gives them a huge leg up in the world."

Midgette joined the Elon faculty in 1985 as an adjunct professor of history and quickly built a reputation as an exemplary scholar and inspirational teacher, receiving the university’s highest teaching honor, the Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching, in 1998.

During her career, she served as chair of the Department of History and associate provost, and filled several key leadership roles during times of transition, including interim director of Career Services and interim dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences.

An early champion for experiential learning and civic engagement, Midgette led several of Elon’s early study abroad courses and established the university’s Council on Civic Engagement. She also served as the first coordinator of Elon’s leadership program and laid the groundwork for the Leadership Studies minor.

Known for establishing strong bonds with students, Midgette served as the first faculty director-in-residence for the Historic Neighborhood, a residential campus community whose name she coined.

Future proceeds from Midgette's estate gift will assist Elon students for generations to come.

"My hope is that this scholarship will provide an excellent Elon education to young people who otherwise might not be able to enroll at the university,” Midgette said.

In retirement, Midgette continues her commitment to service by volunteering with the National Parks Service near her mountain home in Montreat, North Carolina.

The Opening Doors story series celebrates the power of scholarships to change the lives of Elon students and the generosity of donors who make this transformation possible.

About the Odyssey Program

The Odyssey Program is part of the university’s Center for Access and Success. In addition to annual tuition assistance, each of the scholarships in this program includes a stipend for books and supplies, and a one-time, global study grant to be used for an approved study abroad or Study USA program. Odyssey Program participants are consistently among Elon’s top-performing students.

Throughout the four-year program, students take advantage of intellectually demanding courses while furthering their personal and professional development. The students participate in a first-year summer orientation, attend annual retreats and monthly meetings with their peers, are involved in one-on-one academic and career planning meetings, and maintain an academic and leadership portfolio.

Jaleh Hagigh,
11/16/2017 5:25 PM