Alumni, parents and friends gathered at The Ballantyne Hotel on Thursday, Oct. 17, to kick off the historic Elon LEADS fundraising campaign in their region.
More than 200 alumni, parents and friends in Charlotte welcomed a new era in Elon’s history as they celebrated the regional launch of Elon LEADS: Our University Campaign. The event brought attendees together to learn how they will impact Elon’s future by participating in the campaign, which calls for supporters to raise at least $250 million by May 31, 2022.
The evening’s program began with an engaging narration of Elon’s history from Rachel Campbell ‘13, Lee Leckie ‘98, Joe Paturzo ‘20 and Akilah Weaver ‘00. Attendees then heard from James B. Piatt Jr., vice president for university advancement, who shared that the name of the campaign embodies the “leadership and philanthropy that have played a pivotal role throughout Elon’s remarkable 130-year history.”
President Connie Ledoux Book shared how campaign donors will create thousands of student success stories with their gifts and gave an update on progress toward the overall Elon LEADS Campaign goal.
“We have a historic $250 million goal to reach, and I’m delighted to announce that thanks to the generosity of many of you and others across the country, we have raised $176 million dollars toward our goal!” said Book. “We still have $74 million left to go, and we will need the commitment of everyone to reach this important goal.”
Book paid special tribute to Charlotte parents Lori and Eric Sklut P’14, thanking the couple for their leadership and for supporting all four priorities of the Elon LEADS Campaign. The Skluts have also been a driving force for advancing Jewish life on Elon’s campus. Through generous gifts, they have established the Lori and Eric Sklut Emerging Scholar Professorship and named the Sklut Hillel Center, creating a permanent campus home for Jewish students. Eric Sklut also serves as an Elon trustee and as the chair of the Charlotte Regional Campaign Committee.
“We recognize that giving back, so that others can enjoy the fruits of Elon, was a testimonial to the connection we found at Elon,” Eric Sklut told the crowd.
Attendees also heard from two students who shared their own stories of how Elon donors have changed their lives: Joe Paturzo ’20 and Lilly Rothschild ’22.
As the recipient of the Georgeo Scholarship in Elon’s Odyssey Program, Paturzo spoke about his dream of attending college and the financial challenges his family faced.
“For me, attending a four-year university was more than a financial difficulty,” he said. “It was a huge obstacle, a hurdle that my family and I had no clue how we would get over.”
Paturzo shared how the Georgeo Scholarship and other financial assistance he received made his Elon education possible. During his time at Elon, Paturzo has explored his heritage in Florence, Italy, and worked with inspiring faculty mentors, including Joel Karty, professor of chemistry. He has also completed an internship at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he worked alongside world-renowned doctors and leaders in healthcare.
Lilly Rothschild ’22 echoed the sentiment that philanthropy has altered her future for the better.
“I feel honored to be part of this vast and deep network of students constantly trying to lift others to new heights all over Elon,” she said.
Rothschild is a finance major who minored in leadership studies and who is a member of the Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows program. She recently completed an internship in Tel Aviv, Israel, where she gained valuable professional experience and explored her religious and cultural connections. She will soon complete the six-week University Innovation Fellows program run by Stanford University. The program aims to help students around the world create sustainable, systematic change on their campuses through design thinking, a creative approach to problem-solving.
The Leadership Fellows and Elon Engagement scholarships Rothschild received made these experiences possible. “I cannot imagine being anywhere else other than Elon, and I am so grateful for the donors who made my scholarships possible,” she said.
Prior to the event, campaign donors and volunteers attended a pre-reception with President Book and others. The evening concluded with a Loyal Alumni Celebration honoring current alumni donors and the university’s most active alumni volunteers.
This Evening for Elon was the fourth of six special events across the country this fall celebrating the launch of Elon LEADS. Upcoming Evening for Elon events will be held in San Francisco (Nov. 12) and Raleigh (Dec. 4).
Visit the Elon LEADS website to learn more about the campaign.