The celebration of Elon’s 125th birthday resulted in a historic day of giving and outreach.
Gifts, photographs, and messages from well-wishers around the world poured in March 11 as members of the Elon community celebrated the university’s 125th birthday.
The tremendous response highlighted the success of “A Day for Elon,” a campaign encouraging alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff and friends to celebrate by wearing maroon and gold gear, making a gift to the university, and spreading the word about Elon on social media.
The campaign inspired the generosity of more than 1,000 donors who made gifts to honor Elon, of which 65 percent were alumni. Elon’s Class of 2014 also responded to the initiative, with 122 students contributing to the senior class giving campaign. In total, “A Day for Elon” donors gave more than $116,000 to support scholarships, academic departments, athletics, student organizations and other areas of the university.
“We are extremely grateful to have the support of so many students, parents, employees, friends and especially alumni,” says John H. Barnhill ’92, assistant vice president for university advancement. “‘A Day for Elon’ could not have been as successful as it was without the help of our alumni and others who helped spread the word.”
The campaign also produced a historic amount of activity related to Elon on social media. Online posts about “A Day for Elon” boosted the university to a top 10 trending topic nationwide on Twitter, and posts from the Elon University Facebook page were seen by users more than 300,000 times during the course of the campaign. In addition, more than 2,200 tweets and nearly 900 Instagram posts were made using the hashtag #ElonDay.
“‘A Day for Elon’ was an overwhelming success on social media,” said Philip Jones, social media manager for university communications. “It was exciting to watch the hashtag #ElonDay become a trending topic nationally as thousands of people posted about their love for this special place. We certainly turned social media maroon and gold.”
In addition, thousands of alumni, students, parents and friends submitted photos and messages to commemorate Elon’s birthday. In Massachusetts, alumna Frances Hamilton staged “A Day for Elon” photo in the Boston Public Garden.
“I wanted to bring together Boston, the city I love, and Elon, the home of some of my favorite memories,” says Hamilton, who outfitted the garden’s famous “Make Way for Ducklings” statues with Elon t-shirts. “It has been wonderful to see the different ways everyone represented Elon with pride.”
The celebration also made its way to the classroom of Caitlin Trapani ’07, a second grade teacher at Maureen Joy Charter School in Durham, N.C. In the school’s tradition of calling classrooms after the teacher’s alma mater, Trapani’s class is named for Elon. Her students created a special video message to wish Elon a happy birthday.
One of the most popular images of the day was taken during a special Founders Day College Coffee and included Elon’s three living presidents, J. Earl Danieley ’46, J. Fred Young and Leo M. Lambert, with Student Government Association President Welsford Bishopric. Also among the photos were shots of a group of alumni who work in Congress as well as one from an alumna sporting Elon gear at the Great Wall of China.
“The genuine connection that people showed to the university on ‘A Day for Elon’ was extremely moving,” Barnhill says. “It was wonderful to see how large and connected the Elon community really is.”