Elon announces $250 million Elon LEADS Campaign

The seven-year fundraising campaign is the largest in the university’s history, with a central focus on expanding financial support for students.

Elon parent and Trustee Dave Porter, the chairman of the first year of the public phase of Elon LEADS, offers remarks during a new conference announcing the campaign. Seated are Ed Doherty, Elon parent and chair of the board of trustees, and President Connie Ledoux Book.  
Elon University has launched the public phase of Elon LEADS, a historic fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $250 million by May 31, 2022. Central to the campaign is a commitment to expanding access to an Elon education, with more than half of the campaign goal dedicated to creating and supporting new scholarships.

“We chose the name Elon LEADS for this campaign because it describes our university’s position of national leadership in experiential education and also expresses the many ways members of the Elon community lead on campus, in their communities and around the world,” said Ed Doherty, chair of Elon’s board of trustees. “This campaign will provide the resources we need to keep leading, to reach ever-higher and to continue the upward trajectory of this great university.”   

The campaign announcement was made Friday, April 5, during a news conference in the Great Hall of Global Commons. Throughout the week leading up to the launch, Elon shared news about new gifts to the university in support of the campaign’s priorities.

The university’s previous comprehensive campaign, named Ever Elon, concluded in 2011, raising a record-breaking total of $107.3 million. Trustees began the Elon LEADS planning phase in 2015, setting four major priorities and inspiring a spirit of philanthropy that is driving the campaign.

“I am thrilled to report that in the early phases of our campaign, generous donors who believe in this university have provided $167 million in philanthropic support toward the priorities of Elon LEADS,” said trustee Dave Porter, a parent of two Elon alumni who is serving as chair of the first year of the campaign’s public phase. “We have reached this milestone because so many people understand the value of an investment in Elon and our students and they want to set the stage for the thousands of others who will help us reach our ambitious $250 million goal in this campaign.”

Elon President Connie Ledoux Book said Elon LEADS, like the university, is student-centered. “Through this campaign, we are renewing our founders’ commitment to the potential that is embodied in every student,” Book said. “Our collective gifts will help students afford to enroll at Elon, to thrive in this amazing environment for learning, and to gain the skills and form the relationships that will set them on a course to improve our world.”  

The Elon LEADS Campaign goals are organized around four key priorities:

Scholarships for exceptional graduates the world needs

Elon LEADS represents a primary commitment to keeping the dream of an Elon education alive for talented and deserving students. The goal is to raise $140 million in scholarship endowments and annual support that will allow Elon to attract and support outstanding students from a broad range of backgrounds and financial means, including more first-generation college students.

Elon LEADS gifts will support students in the Odyssey Program, a national model for need-based scholarship initiatives that boasts a 90 percent graduation rate. Elon currently provides 180 Odyssey Program scholarships and the goal is to increase that number to support 100 Odyssey scholars in each entering class. Elon LEADS will also expand Elon’s Fellows scholarships, which support top students in six high-achievement academic programs, and Elon Engagement scholarships, which offer middle-income families moderate levels of support toward an Elon education.

Already, the campaign has added 66 endowed Odyssey scholarships, 14 endowed Fellows scholarships and 38 endowed Elon Engagement scholarships. Donors have also made gifts to 216 existing scholarships.

“Keeping college affordable is the great challenge at every institution,” Porter said. “We understand that, and this effort is the cornerstone of the Elon LEADS Campaign.”

President Book offers remarks during the Elon LEADS announcement.
Support for Engaged Learning

Elon LEADS seeks to raise $10 million for endowed support of Elon’s experiential approach to teaching and learning. These gifts support the goal of providing all Elon students with the resources they need to participate in the Elon Experiences, including study abroad and study USA, internships, mentored undergraduate research, service and community engagement, and leadership opportunities.

“These types of experiences interwoven with the academic work prepare students with the knowledge, resilience and determination they need to succeed,” Doherty said. “In a world that grows more complex and contentious every day, Elon prepares young leaders who have the hands-on skills they need to make things better for humanity.”

Support for faculty and staff mentors

Close relationships between students and their faculty and staff mentors are key to an Elon education, and Elon LEADS will raise $10 million in support for new endowed professorships, new emerging scholar endowments and additional support for professional development.

“The work of our extraordinary faculty and staff drives our academic model and we must invest in their research and intellectual growth so they can be strong leaders in their academic fields and inspiring role models for our students,” Book said.

Investment in Elon’s environment for learning

The leadership phase of the Elon LEADS Campaign has already had a major impact on the university’s campus. Projects supported by Elon LEADS gifts include the School of Communications expansion, Schar Center, Richard W. Sankey Hall and the Koenigsberger Learning Center. Elon LEADS gifts have also been integral to two projects currently under construction – The Inn at Elon (a university-owned hotel) and the LaRose Student Commons in the Historic Neighborhood.

One additional major construction project remains to be funded by gifts to the Elon LEADS Campaign: new facilities for the growing science, technology, engineering and math programs (STEM). Planning is underway for facilities adjacent to Dalton L. McMichael Science Center, an effort that is closely tied to goals of Elon’s next long-range strategic plan that is currently being developed.

According to Jim Piatt, Elon’s vice president for university advancement, all gifts to the university will count toward the Elon LEADS Campaign goal, including one-time gifts and endowments, estate and planned gifts, and annual gifts to the university’s greatest needs and designated academic programs, the School of Law annual scholarship fund and the Phoenix Club to support student-athletes.

Eight regional launch events for the campaign will be held at cities around the country in 2019 with an additional eight planned for 2020. Following Porter’s service as first-year chair of Elon LEADS, the second year of the campaign will be chaired by trustee Chris Martin, a 1978 graduate and parent of a 2013 alumnus, and the third year will be co-chaired by alumni Maity Interiano ‘07, Garrett Turner ‘08 and Parker Turner ‘06.

All members of the Elon community are invited to learn more about Elon LEADS, make a gift and follow the campaign’s progress on a newly launched website: www.ElonLEADS.com.