Gift by Elon parents supports campus inn, scholarships
Members of Parents Council have also developed strong ties to Elon University through association with the Love School of Business.
A major gift by Elon parents Michael and Marie DeStefano P’21 toward construction of a hotel on the university campus will not only help create an important destination for Elon vistiors but produce scholarshps for future generations of students.
It also continues a family tradition of engagement in education and an interest in scholarships, Marie DeStefano said. The family wanted to become engaged with the university after their daughter Julianna ’21 enrolled. They supported her elementary school and high school. Continuing to do so at Elon made sense, the couple said.
The DeStefanos, from Colts Neck, New Jersey, are members of the Parents Council and Michael DeStefano is deeply involved with the Love School of Business as a member of the LSB board. He is a Global Alumni Partner Sponsor for Ernst & Young, a worldwide professional services company that heavily recruits Elon graduates.
Through the family’s involvement with Elon, the DeStefanos became aware of the proposal to construct a three-story, 80-room inn on campus beside the Koury Business Center. Tentatively called the Inn at Elon University, the facility would be an endowment-owned asset of the university whose profits will support need-based student scholarships, a major goal for the university. Groundbreaking for the inn is expected to be later this year with an anticipated opening in 2019.
“We were fortunate enough to join the Parents Council. As we got involved we learned about a few projects and this one stood out,” Michael DeStefano said. “This is a little bit unique. It’s not something that comes up every day. It seemed like an interesting way to support the school.”
The outstanding support of Elon and its students by generous families like the DeStefanos is critical to the university’s continued upward trajectory, said Jim Piatt, vice president for university advancement. “The inn is a unique and important facility that serves two important purposes: providing an exceptional experience for those who visit our campus and supporting students who might not otherwise be able to attend Elon. We thank Marie and Michael DeStefano for this important gift.”
Helping students who might need it was appealing, Michael DeStefano said. He recalled his own experience as a student hoping to attend college. “Look at someone like me. I took out every loan I possibly could to get to college. Who knows what would’ve happened to me if I hadn’t had the opportunities I have,” he said. “I think it’s an important aspect of anything to help when the average person can’t afford to do something. In this case, it gave us an opportunity to support the school but it will lend itself to helping future students who may not be able to go to a university like Elon.”
Marie DeStefano said the family learned about Elon as her daughter Julianna ’21 began looking at universities to attend. By coincidence, Michael DeStefano’s company, Ernst & Young, has a strong connection to Elon. It is among the top firms recruiting Elon students who work in the company’s offices around the nation. Ernst & Young specializes in accounting, tax consulting and other services and has 700 offices around the world.
“Last year I believe we were the No. 1 employer for Elon graduates, which is pretty cool. We like the students there. We have an Elon alumni base building within the firm and that keeps the connection strong,” said DeStefano, who has volunteered time on campus to spend with students, something he enjoys.
Marie and Michael DeStefano have a long history of philanthropy, including support for Junior Achievement in New York and scholarships for Latino students at Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School.
The DeStefanos have become significant supporters of Elon in a variety of ways. “One year in my daughter is happy and every expectation we have from the school continues to be exceeded,” Michael and Marie DeStefano said. “Overall we have had a great experience from the first day we stepped on campus. That is a testament to the school, the faculty and the administration.”