In 1992, a group of concerned students submitted to Dean of Students, Ron Klepcyk, and Provost, Warren Board, a proposal for an African American Resource Room, which was created in Chandler Residence Hall. A grant by the United Church of Christ was used to provide resources for the room. The Resource Room, now part of the larger Multicultural Center office, features the Wall of Fame, which educates the Elon community about major achievements by African-American students.
Upon the recommendation of the Provost Board to the Board of Trustees, the Office of Multicultural Affairs was created in 1993. The primary function of the office was to create and maintain supportive programs for the development and advancement of mainly, African-American students. L'Tanya Richmond was hired as the founding director and served in both Multicultural Affairs and Admissions from 1993 to 2000, when she became the full-time director of Multicultural Affairs.
In the fall of 2000, Elon was named in the Kaplan Daystar as one of the top 100 schools in the nation for African-American students. The African American Resource Room was moved to the Moseley Center in December of 1994 and then expanded to become the Multicultural Center in the fall of 2002. The center continued its outstanding programs to support African-American students while broadening its mission to serve an increasingly diverse student body and support diversity education for all students.
The 2005 report by the The Education Trust ranked Elon University as one of only 15 schools in the nation where there is a small or non-existent gap between the graduation rates of African-American and white students. In the fall of 2006, the NewCentury@Elon II strategic plan called for an expanded role for the Multicultural Center as a way to deepen Elon's tradition of community.
The programs of the Multicultural Center have traditionally fallen into three categories: mentoring and support for students of diverse populations, multicultural education, and scholarship programs. The Watson Scholars program began in 1999 to aid first generation North Carolina students who wish to attend Elon University and who have demonstrated self-determination, community involvement, and academic excellence. Scholarship recipients participate in a four-year cohort program, receive a financial aid award to meet the direct costs of the university or the student's full financial need, and receive a one-time grant to fund a study abroad experience. In fall of 2008, the university grouped a number of smaller scholarships—the Honorable Thad Eure North Carolina Achievement Scholarship (for North Carolina students), the John L. Georgeo Scholarship, the Susan Scholarship, the MacMahon Family Scholarship, and the Margaret Ann Hall Scholarship—into a cohort program called the Odyssey program, modeled after the Watson Scholars Program. Additionally, the Center works with three Riversville Scholars.
The S.M.A.R.T. (Student Mentors Advising Rising Talent) mentoring program links returning students with incoming students in order to provide support, skill development, networking and a friendly environment for students of diverse populations. The Hand-to-Hand Mentors are faculty and staff who serve as additional supporters to incoming students. The Multicultural Center sponsors a wealth of multicultural education programs ranging from the Martin Luther King Day commemorative program to celebration of heritage months. In recent years, the Multicultural Center has both developed new student multicultural education organizations, including D.E.E.P. (Diversity Emerging Education Program), the Multicultural Student Council, and the Multicultural Leadership Roundtable. Spectrum, Elon's gay-straight alliance, is also aligned with and supported by the Multicultural Center.