Elon family endows scholarship to support Hillel student mentors

Parents Leonard and Lisa Dick P’20 and grandparents Richard and Marcia Schulman GP’20 generously support efforts to mentor first-year Jewish students. Their gift is part of the $250 million Elon LEADS Campaign.  

When Julia Dick ’20 arrived at Elon University in fall 2016, she was 2,500 miles from her family in Sherman Oaks, California, in an unfamiliar region of the country and on a campus where she didn’t know anyone. Then she met an engagement intern from the university’s Sklut Hillel Center, the home away from home for Jewish students at Elon. A potentially tough transition to college became a positive and life-changing experience.

The following year, Julia became a Hillel engagement intern and helped another first-year Jewish student find Hillel and blossom at Elon. It is this kind of program and the operations of the Sklut Hillel Center that captured the attention of Julia’s parents, Leonard and Lisa Dick P’20 and grandparents, Richard and Marcia Schulman GP’20. Together, they decided to establish a scholarship to support students serving in the Hillel Engagement Internship program.

Hillel engagement interns are second-year students who act as ambassadors for the Sklut Hillel Center. They develop strong connections with first-year students through one-on-one interaction and mentoring. The program includes leadership training, group programs and participation in Hillel International’s Engagement Institute.

The family’s gift to establish the Dick/Schulman Hillel Engagement Intern Scholarship is counted toward the $250 million Elon LEADS comprehensive fundraising campaign.

“The Jewish experience is a big priority for us. Our family gives to Jewish causes,” Leonard Dick said. “We were taken with how warm and inviting Hillel at Elon is. We were looking to give back to Elon because of what it has meant to Julia. The engagement internship seemed to be the right way to express our gratitude.”

Richard Schulman is executive director of the Mark Schulman and Esther Schulman Foundation in Los Angeles, which supports Jewish causes. They visited the Sklut Hillel Center during Family Weekend, Julia’s first year. They were very impressed.

“They came with us to Family Weekend, visited Hillel and fell in love with it as soon as they entered the building. When they returned home they sent a donation to Hillel,” Dick said. “When we talked about doing this engagement internship, we called to ask if they wanted to join us. It was probably the shortest discussion of all time. They were totally on board.”

Leonard Dick is an Emmy Award-winning television writer and producer whose credits include “Lost,” “The Good Wife,” and “House.” Leonard and Lisa Dick have three daughters. They have previously made gifts to support the Sklut Hillel Center and the Parents and Grandparents Fund at Elon.

Hillary Zaken, Elon’s assistant director for Jewish Life for Development and Strategic Communications, said the Engagement Internship program is a cornerstone of the Sklut Hillel Center. “Their job is to answer questions and make incoming students feel comfortable before they even set foot on campus. That’s what makes this program unique and unique to Jewish life,” she said.

For example, two weeks before move-in day in August, Zaken said every first-year student in the Class of 2023 who identified as Jewish had received either a phone call or email from an engagement intern. “They answer questions about Jewish Life at Elon, but they also see themselves as guides for Jewish students,” she said.

Programs like the Engagement Internship are what make Hillel special, the donors said. Julia was the first recipient of the Bernstein/Kronovet Family scholarship for engagement interns. In a thank you note, she wrote: “Every day in this position has showed me just how incredible Elon’s Jewish community really is. Hillel has given me so much in the time that I have been a student at Elon. It helped me get through the hardest moments of my transition to college. Due to (the scholarship), I am not only able to give back to a place that has given me so much in such a small amount of time, but I am able to help so many new Elon students in the way that Elon students have helped me in the past.”

Leonard Dick agreed. “We think it’s a wonderful way to put a human face on the campus experience. It offers a human connection when students arrive on campus,” he said.

Zaken said the Sklut Hillel Center is grateful for the support of the Dick and Schulman families. “They have been outspoken supporters of Jewish life in every way. They have gone above and beyond. They have shown philanthropic leadership and their investment in the work we do helps make us successful. They’re quite extraordinary.”

About The Elon LEADS Campaign

Increasing funding for scholarships, broadening access to the Elon Experiences and supporting faculty and staff mentors are among the main funding priorities of the Elon LEADS Campaign. With a $250 million goal, Elon LEADS is the largest fundraising campaign in the university’s history and will support four main funding priorities: scholarships for graduates the world needs, access to engaged-learning opportunities such as study abroad, support for faculty and staff mentors who matter and Elon’s iconic campus. To date, donors have contributed $174 million toward the overall goal.

Every gift to the university—including annual, endowment, and estate and other planned gifts—counts as a gift to the campaign, which will support students and strengthen Elon for generations to come. To learn more about how you can make an impact, visit www.elonleads.com.