Longtime university benefactors make $1 million gift to the Elon Academy
Douglas G. and Edna Truitt Noiles ’44, of New Canaan, Conn., have made a $1 million gift to Elon University to support the Elon Academy, a university-run college access program for Alamance County high school students.
This is the couple’s fourth major gift to the Elon Academy and the largest gift yet to support the academic enrichment program established in 2007 with the Alamance-Burlington School System.
The Elon Academy is a three-year intensive program that serves academically promising students with significant financial need and/or no family history of attending college. The year-round program seeks to inspire students to earn college degrees and to serve their communities.
“From the beginning, Doug and Edna have believed passionately in the mission of the Elon Academy and the critical role that education plays in strengthening our community,” says Elon President Leo M. Lambert. “Doug and Edna believe that quality education is a birthright and through their generosity, they are helping to transform young lives.”
Doug and Edna Noiles are among Elon’s most generous benefactors. In 2003, they made a $1 million gift to endow the Vera Richardson Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life on campus. They also have made several major gifts to the Elon Academy, including a $220,000 gift to fund the first year of the program, which opened in summer 2007.
“Doug and I recognized that our deep concern for early education needed to be expanded to students who had the potential for higher education but were not getting the preparation they needed to go on to that level,” Edna Noiles says. “We recognized the need to create an environment where these students could first learn what the word ‘scholar’ meant and then know they could become one. This was a work waiting for Elon’s participation.”
“I have always felt the excitement of learning, and I just want to share that excitement with others,” Doug says. “One idea opens a person up to another idea, and once you get started, it’s hard to stop it.”
The couple’s $1 million gift will support endowment and annual operations of the academy and supports one of the priorities of the Ever Elon Campaign. Deborah Long, professor of education and Elon Academy director, says ongoing private support for the program is critical.
“This generous gift from Doug and Edna is an investment in the Alamance County community,” Long says. “The need for higher education is not going away, which is why additional endowment gifts to the Elon Academy are so important. We are making a long-term commitment to young people and families of Alamance County, and endowment gifts allow us to do that by funding the Elon Academy in perpetuity.”
Elon faculty members who serve as lead teachers and Elon student mentors have learned a lot from the academy students.
“They can teach us how to teach them,” Long says. “They also bring gifts to us, including resiliency, determination, a hunger for learning and the desire to succeed.”
The Elon Academy combines intensive four-week summer residential experiences at Elon with a variety of academic and enrichment activities throughout the school year. The first class of 22 students is scheduled to graduate this spring.