Elon parents Dwight and Martha Schar have made the largest single gift in Elon University history, pledging $12 million to name two new buildings planned for the Elon campus.
Elon parents Dwight and Martha Schar have made the largest single gift in Elon University history, pledging $12 million to name two new buildings planned for the Elon campus. The historic gift was announced Dec. 4 by Board of Trustees Chairman William N.P. Herbert, M.D., and President Leo M. Lambert.
Dwight Schar is a successful business leader. He and his wife, Martha, are philanthropists who have a long history of generous support of education, athletics and health, as well as of charities meeting the fundamental needs of children and families. The Schars will provide funds to construct a two-story, 45,000-square-foot building for the School of Communications. The facility, a cornerstone of Elon’s recently announced plans to create a new quad for the School of Communications, will be connected to the existing McEwen Building. The Schars will also provide a lead gift for construction of Elon’s convocation center, a building that is among the goals of the university’s strategic plan, the Elon Commitment.
“In sharing this gift, Dwight and Martha Schar are demonstrating their strong belief in education and their trust in the work we do with tomorrow’s leaders,” Lambert said. “It is especially gratifying to receive this major gift from parents. They know Elon’s values firsthand and they are providing an unprecedented vote of confidence. We are deeply thankful to the Schar family and look forward to using these new resources to benefit students and build an even better Elon.”
“This gift is a truly historic commitment to Elon and our university’s future,” said Herbert, who is a 1968 Elon graduate. “The Schar family is making a generous and powerful investment in Elon – one that will impact generations of students and increase the university’s momentum as it gains even greater national recognition for excellence.”
Dwight and Martha Schar live in Palm Beach, Fla. They are the parents of Stuart Schar, a member of Elon’s Class of 2016, and Spencer Schar, a high school senior who has been accepted and plans to enroll at Elon next fall.
“We are happy to make a difference at Elon and help make these two major campus projects a reality,” said Dwight Schar. “We are impressed with Elon’s academic programs, its focus on student success and the energy of the community,” said Martha Schar. “This is a dynamic university and we are happy to play a role in building Elon’s future.”
The gift by Dwight and Martha Schar to support Elon’s School of Communications building project is the largest in that campaign. The project includes two new buildings and two remodeled facilities, more than doubling the space for communications programs and bringing academic programs and student media organizations together into one unified quad. Details of the campaign were announced Oct. 16, 2014, at a special event held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Fundraising for the $15 million campaign will continue; including the Schar gift, the campaign now stands at $12.1 million in gifts and pledges.
The plan to build a multipurpose convocation center was among the original goals of the 10-year Elon Commitment strategic plan. The university has a long-standing need for a large gathering space that will support major events, including convocations, regional and national conventions, addresses by international figures and other special occasions. The convocation center will also provide a larger arena for Phoenix basketball and volleyball programs, putting Elon’s venue on par with the size of facilities at other member schools in the Colonial Athletic Association. The convocation center design and the timetable for construction have not yet been set by the board of trustees.
Dwight Schar is founder and chairman of the board of NVR, Inc., based in Reston, Va., the fifth-largest homebuilding company in the nation. The firm, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, includes the building operations of Ryan Homes and NVHomes as well as NVR Financial, which includes NVR Mortgage and NVR Settlement Services.
Dwight and Martha Schar are active leaders and philanthropists, supporting many organizations and causes. Martha Schar has served on the board of directors for the Rosarian Academy, a private Catholic school in West Palm Beach, Fla.; for Wesley Housing Development Corporation, a nonprofit group in Alexandria, Va., that promotes affordable housing; and for Childhelp, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse.
Dwight Schar has served as a trustee of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering Foundation, a member of the Virginia Business and Higher Education Council, and as a member of the board for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He has served as a trustee for the George Mason University Foundation, the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges, and for his alma mater, Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio. The Dwight Schar College of Education, the Dwight Schar College of Nursing & Health Sciences and the Dwight Schar Athletic Complex at Ashland University are named in his honor.
Beyond his support for education, Dwight Schar served on the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for the Kennedy Center, was national finance chair for the Republican National Committee, is co-owner of the NFL’s Washington Redskins and has been a board member for Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates, First American Banks, the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, Bell Atlantic Company of Virginia and United Way of the Capital Area.