The gifts from Don Chaplin and Andy Hunt, of Burlington, North Carolina, were inspired by Elon’s commitment to building an inclusive and welcoming campus community.
Don Chaplin and Andy Hunt, of Burlington, North Carolina, have made two gifts to support the students and programs in Elon’s Gender and LGBTQIA Center, which opened in 2013. The couple’s gifts, including a $51,000 contribution and a generous estate gift, will provide funding for students to participate in professional conferences and the Elon Experiences (global engagement, internships, undergraduate research, service learning and leadership development) among other high-impact learning opportunities.
The endowment, which will also provide scholarship assistance to students with financial need, represents the largest gifts to date to support the university’s LGBTQIA initiatives.
Elon President Connie Ledoux Book thanked Chaplin and Hunt for their generous investments in students.
“We are grateful to Don Chaplin and Andy Hunt for believing so deeply in our commitment to LGBTQIA students and programs,” Book said. “We are a stronger university because of devoted friends like Don and Andy who believe in the value of building a more inclusive and welcoming campus for all Elon students.”
Chaplin and Hunt said they have been impressed by Elon’s dedication to LGBTQIA students and wanted to invest in those initiatives.
“We’ve been really excited about how the university has made a real impact on campus and in Alamance County with its LGBTQIA visibility and support,” Chaplin said. “The quality of the students that come to Elon and the outstanding education they receive are impressive. These are the people who will make the world a better place, and we wanted to support that.”
Hunt agrees. “The more we’ve gotten to know Elon, the more we’re impressed with what Elon does and how caring the university is with its students,” he said.
Also important to the couple is providing scholarship assistance for students who lose financial support from their families after revealing their sexual identities.
“As our endowment grows, it is our hope that it will offer some assistance to LGBTQIA students in need and allow them to focus on their education and development rather than financial roadblocks,” Chaplin said. “Elon attracts smart, innovative students, and we felt if we can help students stay in school after coming out, they can make a difference in 10 or 20 years because of the great education they received at Elon.”
“Andy and Don are incredibly generous and engaged members of the Alamance County community and we’ve been delighted to have them involved in the university through Life@Elon and LGBTQIA programs,” said Brooke Barnett, associate provost for academic and inclusive excellence at Elon. “They have not only given us funds to be used immediately to benefit Elon students but funds that will be used in perpetuity to benefit future students and to help make sure our students are thriving and flourishing.”
Matthew Antonio Bosch, director of Elon’s Gender and LGBTQIA Center, said the couple’s gift symbolizes the ongoing progress that has occurred at Elon concerning LGBTQIA inclusion.
“This kind of support is important to students because it lets them know that their identities are validated, their experiences are valued, and that they’ll be victorious in their academic and social lives,” Bosch said. “Sometimes we don’t realize how lucky we are to have people like Don and Andy who are willing to go the extra mile and make an impact on our community. They have hearts of gold and are leaving a legacy for future LGBTQIA students to reach their fullest potential.”
About the Donors
Born in Columbia, North Carolina, Chaplin received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and completed his residency at the University of Alabama Medical Center. He served for 40 years as an internal medicine specialist and cardiologist with a medical practice at the Kernodle Clinic in Burlington and a hospital practice at Alamance Regional Medical Center, now part of Cone Health.
Chaplin is one of the founders of Alamance Cares, which provides HIV education and prevention services, and serves as medical director at the organization. He is also a member of the N.C. Commission for Public Health, ARMC Charitable Foundation, and the Burlington Rotary Club. He also volunteers at the Open Door Clinic of Alamance County and participates in Life@Elon, the university’s lifelong education program.
Born in Louisburg, North Carolina, Hunt earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Appalachian State University. He has worked for 34 years in the financial services sector, primarily in the mortgage servicing arena, including positions at First Union Mortgage in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Wendover Financial Services in Greensboro. Since 2007, Hunt has been self-employed as an independent contractor and works with multiple companies providing consulting and leadership services to high-profile clients in the areas of business process management, regulatory compliance, loss and risk analysis, and project management.
Both Chaplin and Hunt are dedicated members of Alamance Pride and PFLAG Alamance, two organizations devoted to the inclusion, support and uplifting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
Chaplin and Hunt said they hope their gifts inspire additional support from LGBTQIA alumni.
“We’re providing a framework to help meet the needs of LGBTQIA students at Elon and hopefully alumni and others will understand the importance of supporting these efforts,” Hunt said.
Added Chaplin, “We hope the students know that the folks in Alamance County think a lot of them and that we’d like to help provide a safe and supportive community in which to get their education.”