|William S. Long 1889-1894|
Born Oct. 22, 1839, on a farm near Graham, N.C., William S. Long spent his life working in Alamance County to provide quality education for young men and women. He operated a junior college in Graham, opened Graham Female Seminary in 1865 and served as the superintendent of public instruction for Alamance County. His dream of establishing a four-year coeducational college in Alamance County was realized in 1889 when he and other dedicated educators received the official charter for an institute they were planning to build in a little village called Mill Point west of Burlington. Ground was broken, foundations laid and the infant school was named Elon College. The name of the village was later renamed after the college. He served as a professor and as president of Elon from its founding until his resignation in 1894.
|William Wesley Staley 1894-1905|
Born in 1849, Rev. William W. Staley was a native of Alamance County. Staley studied under former President Long at Graham High School before graduating from Trinity College (now Duke University) in 1874. Following graduation, he became a member of the Graham High School faculty and was ordained as a minister of the Christian Church before pursuing graduate studies at the University of Virginia from 1877 to 1878. He served as superintendent of public instruction for Alamance County while living in Graham with his wife, Martha L. Pearce, before they moved to Suffolk, Va., where Staley served as pastor of the Christian Church. In an interesting move, Staley agreed to serve as a non-resident president of Elon, without salary or expense account, and began making frequent trips between Elon and Suffolk. As second president of the new college, Staley oversaw plans that brought the college out of debt for the first time in its history and paved the way for much-needed improvements to the campus. A new dormitory constructed in 1968 was named Staley Hall in his honor.
|Emmett Leonidas Moffitt 1905-1911|
A native of Asheboro, N.C., Emmett L. Moffitt became the third president of Elon College and oversaw the expansion and modernization of Elon’s campus. Prior to his tenure as president, Moffitt served on the Elon faculty as a professor of English from 1890 to 1894. He then served as editor of the Christian Sun until 1900, finally working as secretary-treasurer of the Asheboro Wheelbarrow Company until he was selected as president. During Moffitt’s era, Elon’s campus was transformed with the addition of electric lights, running water and steam radiators. Moffitt is also responsible for the construction of West Dormitory, known today as the only original building still on campus to have survived the 1923 fire. In addition, students enjoyed participation in intercollegiate sports for the first time in 1906.
|William Allen Harper 1911-1931|
William Allen Harper is known as the man who rebuilt Elon College following a devastating fire that could have meant the end of the institution. His vision led to the construction of many of the key buildings still in use at Elon today. Harper was born in Berkeley, Va., in 1880. He graduated from Elon College in 1899, earned a master’s degree in 1905 from Yale University and began teaching Latin and religion at Elon. In 1908 he was elected dean of the college and served in that position until he became Elon’s fourth president in 1911, a position he held for 20 years. Harper saw Elon through World War I, a campus-wide Spanish influenza outbreak in the fall of 1918 and the devastating fire of 1923. After the fire, Harper and the board of trustees embarked on an expansive, long-term building plan for the college. The Mooney Christian Education Building, Alamance Building, the Artelia Roney Duke Science Building, Carlton Library and Whitley Auditorium were all constructed within the five years following the fire.
|Leon Edgar Smith 1931-1957|
A 1910 Elon College graduate, Dr. Leon E. Smith was the longest-serving and one of the most influential presidents in the college’s history. His dedication to Elon and his business-minded leadership saved the institution from financial collapse. Smith carried Elon College through the Depression, three campus fires, World War II and the Korean War. Smith was the 1950 recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award and oversaw the construction of a new campus gymnasium that same year. Throughout the 1950s, he continued to improve Elon’s programs, opening a night school, building new residence halls and growing enrollment. Before his retirement in 1957, Smith became the first president in Elon history to be honored with the title of president emeritus.
|James Earl Danieley 1957-1973|
A native of Alamance County, Dr. J. Earl Danieley has dedicated half a century to the growth and improvement of Elon and the surrounding community. A 1946 Elon graduate, he received graduate degrees in organic chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and conducted post-doctoral research at Johns Hopkins University. Beginning his career as a chemistry instructor at Elon, Danieley served from 1953 to 1956 as dean of the college before being named president of Elon in 1957. He stepped down in 1973 to dedicate the next years of his life to teaching. Danieley has been the Thomas E. Powell Jr. Professor of Chemistry since 1982. He was elected to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors in 1983 and served in that capacity for 12 years. In 1987, Danieley agreed to reduce his teaching hours in order to serve as Elon’s director of planned giving in the development office, a position he held until 1992. In that year he was named president emeritus of the college.
|James Fred Young 1973-1998|
Dr. J. Fred Young has spent a lifetime striving for educational excellence in Alamance County. A native of Burnsville, N.C., Young was educated at Mars Hill College, Wake Forest University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Columbia University. In 1973 Young was named the seventh president of Elon College and served until 1998, making him one of the longest-serving presidents in Elon history. During the 25 years of his tenure, the college more than doubled enrollment to 3,685 and became one of the premier undergraduate institutions on the Eastern seaboard. New academic offerings included masters programs in business administration, education and physical therapy; a new general studies program; and new majors including communications, computer systems, sports medicine and leisure/sport management. The Elon campus expanded from about 145 acres to more than 500 acres during Young's presidency. Facilities construction and renovation included additions of the Center for the Arts; The Koury Center for athletics and physical education; the Moseley Center for campus activities; the Story Center, Jordan Center and East Campus residence hall complexes; and the McMichael Science Center. Groundbreaking was held for the Carol Grotnes Belk Library, and Young also began planning and fundraising for Rhodes Stadium. Dr. Young has been named President Emeritus by the Elon Board of Trustees.
|Leo Michael Lambert 1999-|
Leo M. Lambert became Elon’s eighth president in January 1999. Very early in his tenure, his responsibilities included completing the Elon Vision strategic plan, including the construction of Rhodes Stadium and the opening of Belk Library. Today Dr. Lambert’s work focuses on an ambitious new strategic vision which aims to place Elon, with a national reputation for engaged learning, among the nation’s best small, selective, private universities. Substantial progress has been achieved toward realizing this goal. The academic climate of the campus has been strengthened by endowed programs such as the Kenan Honors Fellowships, the Baird Pulitzer Prize Lectures, and the Isabella Cannon Distinguished Visiting Professorship in Leadership. He has led efforts to more than double expenditures for library acquisitions, to increase faculty sabbatical opportunities, and to improve Elon’s position in Division I athletics by joining the Southern Conference. Dr. Lambert has been deeply committed to further strengthening Elon’s renowned program of experiential learning, evidenced by the opening of the Isabella Cannon Centre for International Studies and the Isabella Cannon International Studies Pavilion and by his taking national leadership in efforts such as Campus Compact and Project Pericles, which encourage students to become civically engaged in their communities. During his tenure, the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business has attained AACSB International accreditation, the School of Communications is accredited by ACEJMC, and Ernest A. Koury Sr. Business Center has been completed. The Elon University School of Law opened in Greensboro in fall 2006.