STEM gift continues McMichael family’s support of science education

The generous gift from the McMichael Family Foundation, including Elon Trustee Mac McMichael P’99, Life Trustee Gail McMichael Lane P’96 GP’23 and Flavel McMichael Godfrey, will support Elon’s new Innovation Quad, a priority of the Elon LEADS Campaign.

The McMichael family in front of the Dalton L. McMichael Sr. Science Center: Dalton (Mac) McMichael Jr. and Gail McMichael Lane (center) and Flavel McMichael Godfrey (far left).

For more than two decades, the McMichael family has been among Elon’s most loyal and generous donors, making philanthropic commitments to scholarships, the sciences and the Elon University Law School among other university priorities. Their most recent gift will support the Innovation Quad, which will house the university’s growing STEM programs, one of the top priorities of the $250 million Elon LEADS Campaign.

The gift was made through the McMichael Family Foundation, which is led by Elon Trustee Dalton “Mac” McMichael Jr. P’99, of Stoneville, North Carolina, and includes Life Trustee Gail McMichael Lane P’96 GP’23, of Paris, Kentucky, and Flavel McMichael Godfrey, of Jacksonville, Florida.

“We are grateful to the McMichael family for their leadership in building a strong foundation for excellence in the sciences at Elon,” says President Connie Ledoux Book. “Their longstanding support has positioned the university to excel in STEM education and create exciting opportunities for all Elon students.”

Gail Lane traces her family’s longstanding support of science programs to her late father, Dalton L. McMichael Sr., for whom Elon’s McMichael Science Center is named. Dalton McMichael attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill planning to study medicine before later embarking on a successful career as a textile executive.

“My father had a deep interest in and love of the sciences and medicine,” Lane recalls. “This gift is continuing our family’s commitment to the sciences and to making the McMichael Science Center even more effective when it has more room.”

Rendering of Innovation Quad

The Innovation Quad includes two facilities, IQ1 and IQ2, and will house Elon’s STEM programs, including engineering as well as physics, which are currently housed in McMichael Science Center. Relocating those two programs to the IQ will free up space in McMichael to support the university’s growing biology, chemistry, health and environmental studies programs.

Elon’s focus on STEM programs is even more vital with the challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Lane says.

“It is very important to support the sciences and STEM fields now, and these new facilities are going to continue to make an impact on Elon’s campus and the world,” she says. “We can’t ignore what the needs of the country and the world are right now.”

Lane also noted the power of the IQ to attract future Elon students and serve current students.

“The IQ project is exciting,” she says. “Having this new space will make it even more convenient for students to explore Elon’s four-year engineering program as a major component of the STEM campus.”

The philanthropic commitments of the McMichael family have benefitted generations of Elon students. Following Dalton McMichael’s gift to name the science center in 1997, the family has made major gifts to endow the McMichael Family Foundation Law School Scholarship and to support Phoenix athletics and the Numen Lumen Pavilion, which houses Elon’s multifaith center.

Gail Lane was named to Elon’s Board of Trustees in 1993 and served as both chair and vice-chair of the board before being named Life Trustee in 2017. She received the Elon Medallion for outstanding service to the university as well as an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Lane’s children are alumnus Bill Drew ’96 and Anna Kirk, a Campbell University graduate, and her grandson, Trevor Kirk, is an Elon sophomore. Her brother Mac McMichael P’99 was named to the Board of Trustees in 2010. His son, alumnus Paul “Brack” Brigman ’99, serves on Elon’s President’s Advisory Council.

Lane says it’s been exciting for her family to watch Elon’s rise over the past three decades.

“We’re really proud of Elon. You think you’ve finished a vision and a strategic plan, and before it’s finished, the next one has begun,” she says. “That’s what Elon does the best, and that’s what Elon is doing with the STEM buildings. They’re looking at these buildings and what the country and the world needs in the future.”

The Innovation Quad: Fueling discovery and creativity

Rendering of IQ1 Assembly and Design Lab

The Innovation Quad, or IQ, will connect the university’s STEM programs to other disciplines across campus, including business, entrepreneurship, analytics, sales and communications. The first two buildings, called IQ1 and IQ2, will be located between the McMichael Science Center and Richard W. Sankey Hall, linking STEM education, the sciences and the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2021.

The IQ is among the top priorities of the Elon LEADS Campaign and Boldly Elon, the university’s new 10-year strategic plan, which calls for advancing existing STEM programs, adding new STEM offerings and expanding science facilities.

The first two buildings represent the heart of the IQ and constitute the initial phase of a long-term investment by Elon into science, creativity and discovery that will be accessible to all students, regardless of their major. Future phases will include academic and residence halls, as well as a series of incubators and design hubs that will foster cross-disciplinary studies and collaboration.

Plans for IQ1 include 20,000 square feet for large workshops and prefabrication spaces where physics and engineering students and faculty can take big ideas and transform them into prototypes. The two-story building will be the backbone of Elon’s growing engineering curriculum, which is now a four-year program. The facility will include design labs for engineering and physics, a mechatronics classroom, prefabrication labs, an astrophysics lab and student engagement spaces to spark innovation.

IQ2 will provide connected classrooms and labs, group study rooms and faculty offices. The three-story, 40,000-square-foot facility will be the home for cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary studies and research in biomedicine, computer science, physics, biophysics and environmental engineering. The facility will face McMichael Science Center on one side and Sankey Hall on the other, solidifying the connection of science to entrepreneurship, sales, design thinking and analytics.

About 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, increase access to engaged learning opportunities such as study abroad, research and service-learning, support for faculty and staff mentors who matter and Elon’s iconic campus. To date, donors had contributed $192 million toward the goal.

Every gift to the university—including annual, endowment, capital, estate and other planned gifts—for any designation 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