Elon dedicates downtown Burlington building

A new office and gathering space across the street from May Memorial Library will help the university continue building community programs.


University and civic leaders formally dedicated a building in downtown Burlington on Friday in a ceremony that recognized the professors and staff members whose campus programs have enriched the lives of college students and community members alike in recent years.

Nearly 100 people took part in the ribbon-cutting for the Downtown Center for Community Engagement, a renovated 1,700-square-foot building at 217 East Davis Street that will serve as the home to programs sponsored by Elon University’s School of Education and its Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement. In addition, the university will rotate displays of student, faculty and community art in the building.

The Village Project, a program led by Associate Professor Jean Rattigan-Rohr in the School of Education, each semester assists young children who are struggling to read. Education majors at Elon work with the children’s parents and teachers to devise strategies and lessons for overcoming some of the common obstacles to reading success.

For the past several years, The Village Project has taken place in the May Memorial Library directly across the street from the new building. It recently expanded with a new initiative to assist students with science lessons.

“This building we are dedicating here today really is a concrete manifestation of the work that has gone on for between community partners, parents and students,” Rohr said. “And we’ve already seen lots and lots of wonderful achievements!”

The Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement now has a permanent presence in downtown Burlington as well. The location will facilitate service opportunities for Elon students through partnerships with more than 80 of the county’s nonprofit and human service agencies. Tammy Cobb, the assistant director for community partnerships in the Kernodle Center, will have regular office hours in the new location.

“We all have the same issues. We all face the same concerns,” Cobb told the crowd of colleagues, parents, community leaders and students. “We all want to see changes in the community where we live. Be a part of that!”

Cobb invited nonprofit and government agencies to use the university space for their own projects. Bringing activists and advocates under the same roof creates opportunities – “connections,” she said – to further develop programs.

The ribbon-cutting program also featured remarks from Elon President Leo M. Lambert, Burlington Mayor Ronnie Wall and Smith Jackson, vice president for student life at the university.

“A university is not a collection of buildings. A university is a collection of people who make an extraordinary difference in other people’s lives,” Lambert said. “We are grateful and proud to be here today, and I thank each and every one of you for your support.”

Wall expressed gratitude to the university for its support of downtown Burlington and the many people assisted by various efforts. “Thank you for being a priceless community partner,” he said, “and thank you for enriching the educational experience of your students through enriching the lives of countless Burlington and Alamance County residents.”