Historic Community Meeting kicks off Ever Elon Campaign

Hundreds of members of the Elon community gathered on campus Saturday, Oct. 11, to give their unanimous support for the launch of Ever Elon: The Campaign for the Future of Our University. The meeting was followed by a picnic lunch and formal kickoff dinner.

(l-r) President Leo M. Lambert, Furman Moseley Jr. ’56 and trustee & campaign chair Mark Mahaffey

The special town hall meeting was part of the launch of the public phase of the largest fundraising campaign in Elon’s history. The Board of Trustees voted Oct. 10 to set a goal of raising $100 million by 2011 through Ever Elon: The Campaign for the Future of Our University.  

On Saturday, members of all of Elon’s constituency boards gathered in McCrary Theatre for the meeting, hosted by the Board of Trustees. Represented were members of the Board of Visitors, National Alumni Executive Board, Young Alumni Council, Parents Council, Phoenix Club and advisory boards for the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and School of Communications, as well as students, faculty and staff.

Furman Moseley ’56, trustee Allen Gant and President Emeritus Earl Danieley ’46

The group heard an outline of the campaign goals and passed a resolution of support for Ever Elon. Board of Trustees chair Allen Gant noted the historic nature of the gathering.

“We do not normally meet in such numbers. This is a first,” Gant told a packed theater. “We are gathered for an important occasion: to launch the largest campaign in Elon’s history. Our purpose is nothing less than securing this university’s great gains in quality and service.”

Gant recognized the challenge of launching a campaign during difficult economic times.

Discovery Sessions led by faculty and students illustrated the Ever Elon goals.

“In these tumultuous times that we live, how in the world can you think about doing what we’re about to do? Gant said. “The time is perfect. At a time like this, you look for leadership. At a time when everybody is worried, Elon is going to exert leadership and do something to change the lives of 5,200 students.”

Gant cited several turning points in Elon’s history: the decision to locate Elon College at Mill Point; rebuilding the central campus following the 1923 fire; continuing operations despite significant debt during the Great Depression; the Elon Vision Campaign, which built the modern campus; becoming a university in 2001; and creating various schools, as well as Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Law.

Elon’s Fire of the Carolinas marching band led the way to the picnic lunch following the Community Meeting.

“Now our task is to embrace another turning point — to build the endowment through the Ever Elon Campaign,” Gant said. “We’re changing people’s lives and every single thing that you do, you make a difference. You aren’t just putting money into a bank and you never see the results. Every single dollar that goes into this endowment changes people’s lives.”

President Leo M. Lambert outlined the goals of the campaign, including adding $70 million in gifts and pledges to the university’s endowment to support scholarships, faculty development, engaged learning, campus preservation, and facilities, and to increase unrestricted and planned giving.

“The campaign has a simple and powerful message behind it,” Lambert said. “We want to secure Elon for future generations and through the campaign to express our most deeply held values.”

Lambert addressed recent economic concerns by noting that Elon has overcome many challenges in its history.

“The history of this institution is the history of overcoming adversity,” Lambert said. “We always persevere. The Phoenix always rises. We have become a nationally recognized institution because of the innovation of this campus. One marker in which we lag behind is the level of endowment. This is something we have to turn our attention to.”

A larger endowment will enable Elon to fund additional scholarships (need- and talent-based; for athletics and the School of Law); give faculty more time to conduct research and create new initiatives; enhance engaged learning programs such as study abroad, internships, research, service learning and leadership development; and sustain the beautiful campus.

“We want to ensure that Elon is not a gated community,” Lambert said. “There are such outstanding young men and women out there in the world whose lives would be transformed by the university.”

The president discussed the recent impact at Elon of the Susan Scholarships, created with a $5 million gift from Furman Moseley Jr. ’56, and the Mac Mahon Family Scholarships, established with a gift from the family of trustee Tom Mac Mahon. These scholarships are part of the university’s new Odyssey Program, which provides recipients of designated need-based scholarships with additional mentoring support and opportunities, including international study.

A larger endowment also can make it possible for more students to study abroad and participate in internships and undergraduate research. “Every student should study abroad at Elon,” Lambert said. “How can you be an educated person in the world today and never have had your passport stamped?

“We have a good undergraduate research program at Elon,” Lambert continued. “Why don’t we have the best undergraduate research program in the country? We can do it, I’m convinced.”

Other priorities include providing additional athletics scholarships to keep Elon competitive in the Southern Conference. The campaign also will seek enhanced support for the Elon Academy, an academic enrichment program run by the university for Alamance-Burlington high school students with financial need.

“We cannot afford to be an island of privilege when there is so much trouble in public schools a few miles from this campus,” Lambert said.

The meeting also marked the premiere of the campaign video (included on the Ever Elon Web site), which was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd.

In closing, Lambert said, “Thank you for being that group of people who understands that it is not what we amass in life that becomes a measure of our success, but instead that measure is what we do for others. I am more and more convinced as president of this university that the most important thing we can do in our lives is to send our wonderful students out into the world to live noble lives of service.”

Candyce Marsh ’03, a Young Alumni Council member from Raleigh, N.C., said she was proud to be part of such a historic gathering.

“I definitely think this campaign is going to take Elon to the next level,” Marsh said. “I think it’s time. The economy is changing, the world is changing and Elon needs to change to make sure we’re producing students who can be part of the global community. The world needs Elon students.”