#ElonTBT: Young Commons dedicated 19 years ago

In this edition of #ElonTBT, we celebrate one of Elon's key campus landmarks. Young Commons, which honors former President Fred Young and Phyllis Young for their decades of service to the university, was dedicated on Oct. 10, 2000.

In the #ElonTBT series, the Elon University News Bureau, along with Archives & Special Collections, will flash back to the past to take a look at Elon over the years. You will find videos, newspaper clippings, photos and more to celebrate Elon’s past, while looking ahead to the future. Follow along on Today at Elon and the university’s TwitterFacebook and Instagram pages every Thursday to see what we dig up.


Young Commons, the expansive lawn in front of the Moseley Center that thousands of Elon students, faculty and staff pass by and through each day, is celebrating its 19th birthday.

On Oct. 10, 2000, the Elon community gathered at College Coffee to dedicate the Commons in honor of then-President Emeritus J. Fred Young and his wife Phyllis Johnson Young for their 25 years of leadership and service at Elon.

Young Commons is named in honor of J. Fred Young, Elon’s seventh president, and his wife Phyllis Young.

Young Commons is framed by the Koury Center, Moseley Center and Belk Library, all built or started during Young’s tenure, with a 30-foot seating wall announcing its name. During the 2000 dedication ceremony, campus leaders explained Young Commons stands at the academic and social crossroads of campus and symbolizes Young’s ideal of a collegial and welcoming community at Elon.

“There is written an old Vietnamese proverb: ‘When you eat fruit, think of the person who planted the tree,'” said then-Provost Gerry Francis, who joined Elon Board of Trustee members Royall H. Spence, Jr. ’42 and Wallace Chandler ’49 in honoring the Youngs during the ceremony. “Today at Elon, we are harvesting fruit from trees Fred and Phyllis planted during their 25 years of leadership, and we will be doing such for decades in the future.”

In his parting words to the crowd gathered at Young Commons, Fred Young encouraged the Elon community to continue to thrive.

“My best wishes to all of you as you thrust Elon into a position of national leadership in higher education,” he said.

Young served as Elon’s seventh president from 1973 to 1998 and made a significant impact on Elon College, which would become Elon University soon after he concluded his service as president. During Young’s tenure, Elon saw its enrollment more than double to 3,685 students as campus grew from about 145 to more than 500 acres. Young’s accomplishments also included increasing the campus’ grade point average, introducing new academic offerings, growing the Elon Experiences, raising millions of dollars to reconstruct buildings, breaking ground on Belk Library and planning and fundraising for Rhodes Stadium.

J. Fred Young, Elon’s seventh president, who served from 1973 to 1998.

According to a passage from “A Grove of Oaks: The Story of Elon University,” by George Troxler, Young was met with gratitude when he surprised faculty with the news of his retirement in 1998.

Troxler wrote, “On February 6, 1998, at the close of what had been an otherwise routine faculty meeting, President Young announced that he would retire as president on December 31. Following several moments of stunned silence, the president received a standing ovation from his colleagues.”

Nineteen years later, Young Commons lives on as a key landmark on Elon’s campus, reminding the community of Fred and Phyllis Young’s decades of service and leadership at the university.

Do you have any special pieces of Elon history? Share your photos and videos with us via email at news@elon.edu or using the hashtag #ElonTBT on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.