Donor impact takes center stage at Elon LEADS in New York

The Elon network gathered to celebrate the impact of philanthropy, envision the future of the university together, and honor Trustee Ed Doherty and Joan Doherty P’07 with Elon Medallions.

President Connie Ledoux Boon on stage at The Glasshouse for Elon LEADS in New York
President Connie Ledoux Book delivers remarks from the stage at The Glasshouse for Elon LEADS in New York. Photo credit: Daniel Rader.

An energetic group of alumni, parents and friends embodied the strength of the Elon network in New York as they gathered this week at an impressive new venue, The Glasshouse, to hear about the impact of the Elon LEADS Campaign so far and what’s ahead for the university as the campaign nears its conclusion on Dec. 31.

The special Evening for Elon celebrated the donors who are making a lasting impact on students through Elon LEADS, the university’s historic campaign to raise $250 million in support of four key priorities: student scholarships, engaged learning programs, support for faculty and staff mentors, and enhancements to Elon’s iconic learning environment.

The event also included a special tribute to Elon Trustee Ed Doherty and Joan Doherty, who were awarded the university’s highest honor, the Elon Medallion, for their visionary leadership in strengthening the Elon network in New York and their generous support of the university. Parents to Kerry Doherty Gatlin ’07 and son-in-law Doug Gatlin ’08, the Dohertys have been instrumental in creating and sponsoring an annual Elon event in New York that has since gathered thousands of alumni, parents and friends at iconic venues including the Waldorf Astoria, The Plaza, the Intrepid aircraft carrier and Lincoln Center.

Kerrii Anderson'79, Joan Doherty P'07, Ed Doherty P'07 and President Book at Elon LEADS in New York. Photo credit: Daniel Rader.
Kerrii Anderson ’79, Joan Doherty P’07, Ed Doherty P’07 and President Book at Elon LEADS in New York. Photo credit: Daniel Rader.

“Ed and Joan recognized early on the importance to Elon’s future of growing the New York network,” said Elon University President Connie Ledoux Book. “For more than a decade, they hosted this event, which has grown exponentially in size due to their leadership and generosity.”

Attendees also heard about the university’s path forward through the end of the Elon LEADS Campaign and beyond, anchored by initiatives outlined in the university’s current strategic plan, Boldly Elon.

“Elon LEADS has been transformative for the university, and it has positioned us for continued success by fueling Elon’s rise,” said President Book. “This campaign has taught us that there is more to do and so much more to accomplish.”

These forward-looking initiatives include:

  • Sustained focus on providing scholarships and financial aid for students through the continued growth of Elon’s endowment, 70% of which is designated for student scholarships.
  • Additional funding for internships that will remove barriers for students with financial aid, as more than 40% of internships are unpaid.
  • A multi-year initiative tied to mentoring that will enable every student to find a peer, faculty and staff mentor before they graduate.
  • Bold investments in STEM programs and facilities, including the new Innovation Quad, or “IQ,” that opened in August. Already, Elon’s engineering program has received full accreditation in the shortest time possible, and Elon’s new four-year nursing program in the School of Health Sciences is rapidly developing outstanding healthcare leaders.
  • Deepened commitment to health and well-being of the campus community. Elon recently announced HealthEU as a holistic approach to supporting wellness on campus. Plans are also underway for a new, integrated wellness center.

Vice President for University Advancement James B. Piatt, Jr., shared the breadth of impact that donors to the campaign have already made through their philanthropy.

“Tonight, we stand in the final months of the historic $250 million Elon LEADS Campaign. When we launched this campaign a few years ago, we could have never predicted how the world would change, but Elon’s sense of resilience runs deep, and our community rallied on,” said Piatt.

“As we sprint to the campaign’s finish line of Dec. 31, we want to share the impact of this campaign on the lives of our students – the priorities not yet completed, and the way this campaign has positioned Elon for success in the future,” he added.

These contributions include:

  • Creating more than 270 new endowed scholarships, which has brought historic growth in Elon’s endowment.
  • Establishing 50 new endowed funds to increase access to Elon’s nationally recognized engaged learning programs, including study abroad, internships, and undergraduate research.
  • Investing almost $8 million in Elon’s outstanding faculty and staff mentors, whose relationships with students helped drive Elon to the #1 national ranking for undergraduate teaching.
  • Adding eight new facilities to the Elon landscape, including Schar Center, the School of Communications expansion, The Inn at Elon and the Innovation Quad.

Remarks from current senior Ava Rosen ’23 reminded the crowd of the importance of scholarships.

“My story begins when I was 13, at which I lost my dad to cancer and sat passenger to my life turning upside down,” said Rosen, who is a recipient of the Inman Family Scholarship in the Odyssey Program and a business fellow in the Martha & Spencer Love School of Business. “My family faced a mountain of hospital bills and funeral payments that we could no longer afford. Within months, I matured years. Still, I worried that a college education was not in the cards for me. Then I discovered Elon and the Odyssey and Business Fellows scholarship programs, which gave me the opportunity to pursue my dreams, avoid significant financial debt, and make my dad proud.”

Members of the Elon community gathered at The Glasshouse in New York for the Evening for Elon event which honored Elon parents Joan and Ed Doherty P’07 and to hear about the progress of the Elon LEADS Campaign.

Rosen went on to share some of the transformative experiences she’s had at Elon while double majoring in finance and human resources and minoring in data science, including study abroad experiences in Paris, Milan and Japan and two internships at Goldman Sachs, where she has accepted a job as a credit risk analyst following her graduation from Elon in May 2023.

“I am truly humbled, as this position at Goldman has been my goal since day one, and I know my dad is smiling down on me,” said Rosen, who thanked her Elon faculty mentors Tina Das, Steve DeLoach, Katy Rouse and Kate Upton, as well as Elon parents Bill and Patricia Inman P’00. “Being an Inman Scholar allows me to lead by example and demonstrate all that Elon has to offer bright students who are forced to overcome challenges early in life. I am forever grateful to the Inmans for investing in me, and to all the donors who have made business fellows scholarships possible.”

Elon LEADS co-chairs Priscilla Awkard ’95, Christian Wiggins ’03 and Jack McMackin ’08 delivered a message to alumni encouraging their continued involvement in the campaign and the life of the university. They also shared a greeting from fellow co-chair Maity Interiano ’07, who was slated to attend the event but was called away by her work as a lead television anchor for the Univision network.

“I’ve learned that no one has to do everything, but we can all do something,” said Wiggins. “I may not help every student with my gifts, but I know that my investment in Elon is meaningful and will change someone’s life. You never know whose life you may change through your giving.”

Annual gifts from alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff and friends have been a key driver of success during Elon LEADS. More than 32,000 donors have made gifts over the course of the campaign, with their gifts representing every dollar amount and supporting a wide range of funds across campus. This continued support recently led to Elon being named #21 in the nation for alumni giving participation by U.S. News & World Report, an honor the university shares with Boston College, Cornell, Villanova and Wake Forest.

The event closed with a performance of “I’ll Be There” by Sidney Wilson ’21, who graduated from Elon just one year ago and has already secured a starring role in The Lion King on Broadway, giving the crowd a powerful reminder of the strength of Elon’s top 10-ranked music theatre program.

The evening concluded with a Loyal Alumni Celebration honoring current alumni donors and the university’s most active alumni volunteers.

The Elon LEADS in New York event was the second of five special Evenings for Elon scheduled for fall 2022. The series made its first stop in Atlanta on Sept. 7, with remaining events scheduled in Boston (Oct. 12), Los Angeles (Nov. 1), and Washington, D.C. (Nov. 15).

Learn more about the Elon LEADS Campaign here.