Trustee, Elon parents make generous gifts to Inn at Elon University

Longtime Elon supporters Thomas E. and Lynn B. Chandler along with new Parents Council chairs Paul and Mindee Blanco advance a university initiative to build scholarships and enhance the campus experience for visitors.

Two generous gifts – one from longtime Elon supporter and trustee Thomas E. Chandler and wife Lynn, and another by Elon parents Paul and Mindee Blanco ‘P19 – will go toward a project to construct an inn on the university campus.

Tentatively called The Inn at Elon University, the three-story, 80-room facility will be located next to the Ernest A. Koury Sr. Business Center in close proximity to the Inman Admissions Welcome Center, Rhodes Stadium, The Martin Alumni Center, Belk Library and the Schar Center as well as many other campus venues. The inn will be an endowment-owned asset of the university whose profits will support need-based student scholarships, among the university’s highest priorities.

“The Elon community is grateful for the support of the Chandler and Blanco families, said Jim Piatt, vice president for University Advancement. “Their support of this important and unique facility, which is designed to provide an excellent experience for guests while providing critical scholarship support for students, underscores the values they share with Elon.”

Chandler, a member of the Board of Trustees since 1999, said the inn will “really benefit the university” and liked the proposal when it was first presented. The gift continues a strong history of support for Elon by the Chandlers. In recognition of the gift, a suite will be named The Thomas E. and Lynn B. Chandler Suite.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2018. Chandler said he anticipates the inn filling a need for accommodations and event space on campus.

 “I think with the inn being on campus, next to the Koury Business Center, it will provide that niche that we were missing. I think it’s a great concept,” Chandler said. “It will be a first-class facility not only for people to stay but for events on campus because there will be a banquet room that will be used for banquets, meetings and other university events.”

Chandler said he is particularly pleased with the idea that the inn will be an asset of the university endowment with revenues going toward scholarships. “It will benefit the university in a number of ways and I think the income provided by the inn will help our students. Actually putting the money back into the school so to speak. I think that’s a win-win for the university as well as the students.”

The Chandlers, who live in Burlington, North Carolina, are among the most devoted benefactors to Elon, making numerous gifts to support scholarships, athletics, the Koury Business Center, Belk Library, the school of law, the Schar Center, Rhodes Stadium and creation of the Chandler Professional Sales Center. Chandler is the chairman of Chandler Concrete Co., which is based in Burlington. The company operates plants in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. He was honored with the Frank Holt Business Leadership Award by Elon in 2001.

Similar to the Chandlers, Paul and Mindee Blanco were drawn to the inn proposal when they first saw an official presentation about it as members of the Parents Council. The Blancos, whose daughter Jennee is a rising senior at Elon, will chair the Parents Council in 2018-19.

The inn proposal appealed to the family for several reasons. “I thought the visual, the way it’s going to look and the concept were appealing. I thought it was a great idea for the community,” Paul Blanco said.

“To have an inn on campus is fantastic,” Mindee Blanco added. “To me it looks like it will fit right in. It’s a natural progression.”

Mindee Blanco said the concept of the endowment owning the inn in order to create scholarships is novel and inspirational. “We always love supporting Elon, but we want to do it to benefit students and that just clinched it for us,” she said.

In recognition of their generosity, a site within the inn will be named the Blanco Family Fitness Center. “I wanted to make sure we worked out when we stay there,” Paul Blanco said with a laugh and added, “it’s something I feel passionate about so it was a natural for us.”

Paul Blanco is founder and CEO of Barnum Financial Group in Shelton, Connecticut, one of the industry’s most successful firms. Mindee Blanco is the COO of Barnum Financial Group. They have a strong history of philanthropic support, giving to numerous nonprofits in their home community. At Elon they have provided gifts to Elon’s Greatest Needs and the Phoenix Club. They have three children, Jennee ’19, Sydnee and Paul.