Elon celebrates alumni, history during special Homecoming event

The Nov. 8 event, part of Elon University’s yearlong quasquicentennial celebration, kicked off this year’s Homecoming Weekend festivities with the recognition of seven distinguished alumni.

There was a festive spirit inside the Lakeside Meeting Rooms Friday night, as hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the university came together to honor alumni award recipients and class and affinity reunions volunteers, while reflecting on Elon’s rich history during the 125 Anniversary Celebration and Alumni Awards Ceremony.

Even before the program started, the celebratory tone was apparent as members of Elon’s marching band and cheerleading squad welcomed visitors.

Seven exemplary alumni were recognized with the 2013 Alumni Awards for their professional success, community engagement and loyal support of Elon as partners, advocates and investors. “We are here to celebrate some very special people,” President Leo M. Lambert said. “Alumni are part of Elon’s strategic plan like you’ve never had been before.”

Honored were:

  • U.S. Navy Adm. William “Bill” E. Gortney ’77, Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award
  • Tracey Helton Lewis ’93 P’10, Distinguished Alumna of the Year
  • Darris Means ’05, Young Alumnus of the Year
  • Britten Ginsburg Pund ’06, Young Alumna of the Year
  • The Rev. Jonathan Chapman ’07, Service to Church and Society
  • Natasha Christensen ’07, Alumni Service Award
  • Lindsey Goodman Baker ’04, Distinguished Service to Elon Award

The event also honored class and affinity reunion volunteers who came back to campus this year to connect, engage and celebrate their milestone reunions with their classmates, friends and the Elon community. The groups continued the tradition of giving back to their alma mater by presenting checks to the university. In all, affinity groups raised $352,625 while class reunions raised $1.125 million.

“Elon alumni believe in Elon,” said John H. Barnhill ’92, Elon’s assistant vice president for university advancement, adding the check presentations were an example of that.

The event also served as a platform to celebrate Elon’s quasquicentennial and look forward to the next 125 years.

“This is a special Homecoming, the largest attendance in our 125th birthday,” Lambert said. “But 125 years is young … We are just getting started and every one of you is putting your brick in constructing this cathedral I call Elon.”

During his remarks, Lambert also praised Max Cantor ’09 and Tim Johnston ’10 for their work on the new alumni video, which was shown during the event and captures the Elon alumni experience. The video is available for viewing at Martin Alumni Center.

“The next chapter of the Elon story is to be told through the accomplishments of its alumni,” said Jim Piatt, vice president for university advancement, in his closing remarks. “Let’s declare a new era of alumni engagement at Elon. … Indeed, the world does need Elon graduates.

“Long live Elon!”