Dohertys make gift to endow eight Odyssey scholarships

Edward and Joan Doherty of Saddle River, New Jersey, have made a gift to provide scholarships for talented scholars who need financial assistance.

Edward and Joan Doherty of Saddle River, New Jersey

Elon Trustee Edward Doherty and his wife, Joan, parents of a 2007 Elon alumna and generous supporters of the university, have made a leadership gift to endow eight scholarships. The Edward W. and Joan K. Doherty Odyssey Scholarships will be awarded to two students in each entering class beginning in the fall of 2017.

The Odyssey Scholars Program, part of the Center for Access and Success, is a highly selective program supporting academically talented and engaged students with significant financial need who will benefit from an Elon education. Elon Odyssey Scholars are frequently the first members of their family to attend college and have achieved success despite hardship or challenge.

“Through this gift, Ed and Joan Doherty will make college dreams a reality,” said President Leo M. Lambert. “These generous Elon parents want to transform the lives of young men and women who are ready to make an impact in our world. The Dohertys are demonstrating the power of philanthropy and we are deeply grateful for their partnership.”

Ed Doherty, has been a member of Elon’s Board of Trustees since 2006. He and Joan previously began service to Elon as members of the Elon Parents Council when their daughter, Kerry, was a student.

The Dohertys grew up in New York – Ed on Long Island and Joan in Queens – and both were among the first members of their families to attend college. “Giving a family a chance for their child to attend a college like Elon is a very special opportunity,” Joan Doherty said. “We want those students to be able to follow their dreams.”

“Education creates opportunity,” Ed Doherty said. “We’re a country of immigrants, and every generation wants the next generation to achieve greater success. We feel it is important to give back, and there’s no place better than Elon to create the right experiences for these first-generation college students.”

Odyssey Scholars bring cultural and socioeconomic diversity to Elon, and first preference in selection of recipients of the Doherty Scholarships will be given to racially or ethnically diverse students. Currently, Elon has a total of 100 Odyssey Scholars. “We imagine a day when we have 100 per class,” Lambert said.

Throughout the four-year program, Odyssey Scholars take advantage of intellectually demanding courses while furthering their personal and professional development. The Scholars participate in a first-year summer orientation, have annual retreats, attend monthly meetings with their peers, are involved in one-on-one academic and career planning meetings, and maintain an academic and leadership portfolio. In addition to annual tuition assistance, the program includes a stipend for books and supplies, and a one-time, $4,000 global study grant to be used for an approved study abroad or Study USA program.  

The Doherty Scholarships are the latest in a series of gifts the couple has made to Elon. The Dohertys previously established the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and endowed the Doherty Emerging Professor of Entrepreneurship. This new gift provides additional support for operations of the Doherty Center. The center focuses on experiential education that encourages creative and critical thinking. Students learn how to recognize opportunity, formulate plans and implement their ideas. Throughout the year, the center sponsors entrepreneurship-themed co-curricular activities open to all majors.

In addition, the Dohertys provide generous gifts to host the annual “Evening for Elon” event in New York City for alumni, parents and friends of the university. Their new commitment to Elon provides funding to support that event for four years and also provides a gift in support of the Phoenix Club for Elon athletics.

The Dohertys have been regular contributors to Elon’s annual fund and have supported other scholarships and building projects. In recognition of their support of Elon, Ed and Joan Doherty were awarded honorary doctorate degrees in 2014.

Ed Doherty is founder and chief executive officer of Doherty Enterprises, Inc., one of the nation’s leading franchisee operators of quality family restaurants, including Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Panera Bread and Chevys Fresh Mex. The company currently operates more than 145 restaurants, pubs and bakery cafes.

Ed and Joan Doherty are committed to giving back to the communities where they do business and to causes to which they are committed. Doherty Enterprises and its people annually participate in more than 1,500 community activities, donate more than 2,000 hours of volunteer service and donate or help raise more than $2 million in financial contributions to local charities and causes. In 2007 Ed and Joan formed WOW A Friend Foundation with the mission of providing emergency funds to Doherty Enterprises’ associates and their immediate families when burdened by an event outside their control and who are in need of financial assistance.