Major gift by alumna supports Inn at Elon and scholarships

Trustee Shelly Skeens Hazel ’78 and her family advance university priorities to deepen scholarship funding and enhance Elon’s iconic campus. 


Growing up in a military family, Shelly Skeens Hazel ’78 LP’09 became accustomed to frequent moves from one U.S. Air Force base to another. Before arriving at Elon in 1974, she had never lived anywhere longer than two and a half years. By the time she graduated from Elon in 1978, her alma mater felt like home.

A rendering of the Inn at Elon, now under construction. 
That’s one of many reasons Hazel was drawn to the plan to build an inn on the Elon campus. “The Inn at Elon will provide a marvelous gathering place for the university,” says Hazel.  “Along with the Martin Alumni Center, it will be a home away from home.”

Shelly Hazel and her husband, Jack, are helping to make this vision a reality through a generous gift that along with helping to fund construction of The Inn will endow the Hazel Family Scholarship at the Elon University School of Law in Greensboro.

The Inn is under construction adjacent to the Ernest A. Koury Sr. Business Center. It will include a three-story, 80-room hotel with a restaurant, lounge and event space. It is projected to open in early 2020. This campus facility will be owned by the university’s endowment as an investment. Revenues beyond expenses will return to the endowment to fund need-based scholarships for deserving students who might not otherwise be able to attend Elon.

This gift toward building the Inn at Elon and in the process more scholarships underscores the longstanding commitment by Shelly Hazel and her family to the Elon community and the values all share, says Jim Piatt, vice president for university advancement.

Elon Trustee Shelly Skeens Hazel '78 LP'09
“This visionary project will not only create a wonderful gathering space for those returning to Elon’s campus but will provide critical support to students who might not otherwise be able to choose to attend Elon,” Piatt says. “We thank Shelly Hazel and her family for this foundational gift.”

"Scholarships are the highest fundraising priority at Elon," says Hazel.  “I am so proud of this university when I witness scholarship students who go on to become global, successful citizens in the world – such an inspiring reason to support this endeavor.”

The School of Law is of particular interest to the Hazel family. The Hazels’ daughter, Alix, earned her degree from the Elon School of Law in its first graduating class in 2009 and she is now an assistant Commonwealth attorney in Virginia. “Alix loves her job and loves the law,” Hazel says. “I am in awe of her accomplishments and her service to her community, and I have Elon to thank for that.”

Hazel’s mother, Virginia Skeens, was a generous donor to the Elon School of Law. Hazel and her family endowed the Skeens-Watson Law Professorship and also supported the construction of the R.N. Ellington Health Center, Rhodes Stadium, the Koury Business Center, and the Numen Lumen Pavilion. Hazel is a member of the Order of the Oak, Elon’s legacy society and she supports the Elon Society and the Phoenix Club. 

Shelly Hazel was named to the Elon Board of Trustees in 1995. She received the Distinguished Service to Elon Award in 2005 and was named Distinguished Alumna of the Year in 2011.

An aerial view of the construct of The Inn at Elon taken in January.
The Hazel family owns and operates a cattle farm in Virginia that also serves as a site for The Veterans Outdoor Fund, which provides healing opportunities to veteran troops and their families through numerous outdoor activities.

Hazel strongly believes in the university's goal of continued excellence and is motivated by an outstanding president, extraordinary faculty and staff, and highly engaged alumni and parents. “Elon chooses to set a high bar and as a result, the university is extraordinary. How fitting that scholarships will be funded by our new, fabulous Inn at Elon. To me, the inn will be a real game-changer for the campus, providing such a special place for us to continue to have some of the best times of our lives as we come home to our alma mater.”