Elon confers honorary degree upon Gail McMichael Lane
At Commencement Exercises for Elon Law’s Class of 2014, Elon University trustee Gail McMichael Lane was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in recognition of her extraordinary commitment to education and outstanding service to Elon University.
Elon President Leo M. Lambert conferred the degree and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Steve D. House presented Lane, noting that over the last two decades she has served and led the Board of Trustees and provided generous philanthropic support of undergraduate and graduate students and key university priorities.
“Elon is a much stronger institution because of the service and devotion of Gail Lane,” House said. “Support from Gail and the rest of the McMichael family has helped drive Elon’s upward trajectory and emergence on the national stage.”
Lane was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1993, served as chair of the Board’s Development Committee from 1995 to 1996, vice chair of the Board from 1997 to 1999, and Board chair from 1999 to 2001. The honorary degree citation notes that Lane played an active role in developing the NewCentury@Elon strategic plan.
“Launched in 2000, the plan successfully positioned Elon as a national model of engaged learning and brought the university’s academic programs to new levels of excellence,” the degree citation states. “Appreciative of the excellent educational opportunities Elon offered her son, William R. Drew, a 1996 graduate, Gail continues to bring to Board deliberations a knowledgeable and valuable parent’s perspective and enthusiastic support for Elon’s distinctive engaged learning approach and commitment to innovation.”
Lane was a member of the Presidential Search Committee that brought President Lambert to Elon in 1999. She has offered support and counsel to both Lambert and his predecessor, J. Fred Young. The Dalton L. McMichael Sr. Science Center is named in honor of Lane’s late father, one of Elon’s most generous benefactors. Lane honored her father by making a generous gift along with her late husband, Richard Drew, to the McMichael Science Center.
Lane serves as a director of The McMichael Family Foundation.
“In addition to being generous with her personal resources, Gail has been a guiding force in the foundation’s support of the university, including the largest endowment gift yet to the School of Law, which funded three full-tuition scholarships,” House said.
In accepting the degree, Lane described attributes of her father, encouraging graduates to maintain a high degree of integrity throughout their careers.
“My father was a very special man who collected friends from all walks of life,” Lane said. “He did this instead of collecting things and I challenge all of you to do that as you go through your life. He had the highest sense of integrity and character. His word and his handshake were as solid as any signature on any agreement that you new lawyers could draw up. He is an example of how much positive influence one person can make for future generations in our family and those lives he has touched and continues to touch with gifts like the scholarships here at Elon. I believe that Elon has given you the tools to go forth and be that new kind of lawyer that will make this school and your families proud and make a difference in the world today.”
In 2013 The McMichael Family Foundation made a lead gift in support of the Numen Lumen Pavilion, Elon’s multi-faith center. Lane has also championed the importance of annual giving at Elon, supporting scholarship funding, Phoenix athletics and the Elon Academy college access and success program. In recognition of her extraordinary service to the university, Lane was awarded the Elon Medallion in 2004.
Lane earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Mary Baldwin Academy in 1965. She is married to Edward H. (Beau) Lane III, and has two children, her son, Bill, and daughter, Anna D. Kirk.