The Elon parents and supporters of the university were honored with the medallion, the university's highest honor for service, at the Evening for Elon event in New York event on Thursday, Sept. 15.
Elon University President Connie Ledoux Book on Thursday night presented the Elon Medallion to Ed and Joan Doherty P’07, Elon parents and steadfast supporters of the university and its mission. The Elon Medallion is the university’s highest honor and it is presented by the president in recognition of outstanding service to the university.
The Dohertys were recognized during the Evening for Elon event in New York that drew hundreds of alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff and friends of the university together to celebrate progress on the Elon LEADS campaign. Recognizing the importance to Elon’s future of a strong alumni network in New York, the Dohertys have hosted the annual Evenings for Elon in New York for more than 10 years, inspiring thousands of alumni, parents and friends to remain connected to the life of the university.
“Joan and I feel very grateful to have participated in Elon’s journey to become a top 100 national university these past 20 years. Time really flies. I can’t really believe we’ve been involved for 20 years,” said Ed Doherty, an Elon trustee and former chair of the Board of Trustees, during the Evening for Elon event on Thursday, Sept. 15.
With an unwavering belief in the power of an Elon education to transform lives, Ed and Joan Doherty have provided the vision, leadership and generous resources to propel the university to national recognition and prepare the bold, innovative thinkers the world needs. Inspired by the transformative education their daughter Kerry received from Elon, the couple served on the university’s Parents Council from 2004 to 2007, providing valuable guidance to enhance the undergraduate experience and supporting philanthropic priorities that have solidified Elon’s position as the national leader in engaged, experiential learning.
The impact of the couple’s philanthropy can be seen across Elon’s campus, beginning with the Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship and the Doherty Scholar Intern program, which the couple endowed in 2007 to help students develop an innovative mindset, cultivate new ideas and business ventures, and enhance their personal growth. Their devoted and enthusiastic support of entrepreneurial education has helped drive the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business to a top 40 ranking among the nation’s best undergraduate business programs by Poets & Quants.
Believing in the power of scholarships to change lives, Ed and Joan Doherty made a generous gift in 2016 to endow eight scholarships in the university’s Odyssey Program to assist students with high financial need and merit, helping the program become a national model for college access and success initiatives.
In 1985, Ed and Joan Doherty co-founded Doherty Enterprises and the company has become one of the nation’s largest restaurant franchisee operators with more than 145 family restaurants, pubs, and bakery cafes, including Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Panera Bread, Chevys Fresh Mex, The Shannon Rose Irish Pub, and Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas.
As co-founder of Doherty Enterprises, Joan was a committed partner in company decision-making, demonstrating a remarkable understanding of what drives business success, collaborating with community organizations to gather local memorabilia to nurture a welcoming dining environment for customers. She also serves as a board member of the company’s Wow A Friend Foundation, which has provided generous financial assistance to employees experiencing financial hardship or a devastating life event.
Since he was elected to the Elon University Board of Trustees in 2006, Ed has leveraged his business acumen in his service as board chair and a member of the Board’s leadership group, Executive, Administrative Personnel, Finance and Administration, and Investment committees, helping to guide Elon’s progress during a period of historic growth.
Ed and Joan served as co-chairs of the Planning Committee that launched the $250 million Elon LEADS Campaign, the most ambitious fundraising effort in Elon’s history, and are members of the Doherty Center Advisory Board.
“Joan and I were so wowed by Elon, we wanted to get involved, we wanted to do things and make a difference at Elon. And we quickly found out that if you get involved at Elon, you can make a difference. We gave our time and our resources, never realizing that this would lead to a 20-year partnership with Elon,” Ed said. “Joan and I are approached by many wonderful non-profitable charitable organizations and we give to many that support our priorities. But we stay continually focused on Elon because Elon makes a difference.”
They are devoted to their family, including children Tim and Valerie Doherty, Shannon and Paul Portell, Kerry Doherty Gatlin ’07, son-in-law Doug Gatlin II ’08, who is a member of the President’s Roundtable, and their many grandchildren.