Elon celebrates donors and students at Scholarship Dinner
Elon honored its generous donors and students who benefit from philanthropy at the university’s Scholarship Dinner in McKinnon Hall on Feb. 28. The annual event gives donors the opportunity to meet with their student scholarship recipients and see firsthand the power of scholarships to change lives.
About 120 donors who have endowed need- and talent-based scholarships also viewed a video of students discussing how financial assistance has made their Elon experiences possible.
Jim Piatt, vice president for university advancement, offered opening remarks and introduced the theme of the evening, “Life-Changing Legacies.” He praised the alumni, parents, faculty and staff who have established scholarships at the university. “Tonight we celebrate the connections of many generations of the Elon family,” Piatt said.
Danielle Martinelli, a junior from Sudbury, Mass., was one of 71 students at the dinner. She enjoyed meeting Anne Maness whose family established the W.L. and Beulah McNeill Maness Scholarship, which has helped support her education.
“This is fantastic,” Martinelli said. “I feel so much more appreciative when I’m able to meet the donor who has made my scholarship possible. I’m grateful that donors would be willing to give a scholarship to someone they’ve never met.”
“I’m delighted to meet Danielle,” Maness said. “I’ve always been impressed by all the students at Elon.”
President Leo M. Lambert congratulated students on their accomplishments and thanked the donors who have helped build Elon over many generations. “I think the opportunity to express gratitude is one of the most important things we do in life,” Lambert said.
The president discussed recent milestones at Elon, including the addition of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at the university, which demonstrates “our deep commitment to the arts and sciences and signifies that we are one of the best universities in the country.” Lambert also noted that Elon is one of only seven private universities in the nation with the highest accreditations for its schools of business, communications, education and law, and a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, joining Marquette, Hofstra, American, Baylor, Syracuse and Columbia in this distinction. This spring, he added, the School of Law is expected to receive full approval from the American Bar Association.
“We are a national university, and we are competing on a national playing field for the best students,” Lambert said, adding that scholarships play a critical role in helping Elon attract the best and brightest young minds.
Athletics scholarships enable the university to compete for national championships while need-based scholarships play a vital role in making an Elon education possible for students with significant financial need. Lambert called scholarship donors “the keystone” in an arch. With significant cuts expected this year to federal Pell Grant and state tuition grant programs, students with financial need “are going to feel their personal arch crumble a bit” without additional support, Lambert said.
“Every scholarship at Elon changes a life,” Lambert said. “There is no other gift that has that much impact on an individual and the world than a scholarship.”
Donors George '56 and Jerrie Nall '60 spoke at the dinner and encouraged all members of the Elon community to continue to support students through scholarships.
"A good Elon education will truly change your life," George Nall said. "Elon is a great institution, and I'm proud to have been part of it."
More than 150 new scholarships have been created through Ever Elon: The Campaign for the Future of Our University, which has raised close to $88 million toward the $100 million goal.