Two awarded the Elon Medallion, the university’s highest honor

Elon President Connie Ledoux Book presented the medallion to a longtime member of the university's Board of Trustees and a retired staff member during an event marking the start of a new academic year. The university also recognized three named professorships during the event.

A business leader and longtime member of the Elon University Board of Trustees and a retired university administrator were honored for their years of service and contributions to the university and its people on Monday, Aug. 14, with the presentation of the Elon Medallion, the most prestigious service award bestowed by the university. The bronze medallions were awarded by President Connie Ledoux Book at the start of the annual faculty/staff Planning Week that marks the beginning of a new academic year.

Elon Medallions

Receiving Elon Medallions were Tom Chandler, the founder of Chandler Concrete and a university trustee since 1999, and Vickie Somers, a retired staff member who built the university’s nationally recognized purchasing and auxiliary services offices.

Tom Chandler

Thomas E. Chandler has exhibited integrity, kindness and an unwavering dedication to his community during more than two decades of service on the Board of Trustees, helping to fuel Elon’s rise to the national stage.

President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert, left, and Elon University President Connie Ledoux Book, right, with Elon Medallion recipient Tom Chandler, center, during Opening Day ceremonies on Aug. 14, 2023, in Alumni Gym on the campus of Elon University.

A highly respected business leader, Chandler founded Chandler Concrete in 1973 and serves as chairman and former CEO of the family-run, Burlington-based company that has grown to more than 40 plants in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and is a key driver of economic success in Alamance County and the region. He quickly built a reputation for fairness and decency among his employees and fellow trustees who respected his thoughtful approach to leadership and firm belief in the positive role that business and Elon University can play in society.

Elected to the Board of Trustees in 1999, Chandler served with distinction on the Executive and Athletics Policy committees and as the longstanding chair of the Advancement Committee before being named Life Trustee in 2021 at the conclusion of his devoted service. His strong and steady leadership of the Advancement Committee was essential to the success of the historic Ever Elon and Elon LEADS campaigns that together raised more than $367 million for scholarships and other institutional priorities, solidifying Elon’s national leadership in engaged, experiential learning.

In remarks offered after receiving the Elon Medallion, Chandler recounted his family’s connections to Elon, which stretch back to his grandmother, who graduated in 1898. Chandler said he has always viewed Elon as a valuable asset for the local community, and he has tried to promote the university to his friends and associates.

“It’s hard to put into words what this award means to me,” Chandler told those gathered in Alumni Gym. “I want to thank the university and all of you for that honor.”

Believing in the power of an Elon education to transform lives, Chandler and his wife, Lynn, have generously supported scholarships, the School of Law and the Phoenix Club. The couple helped build a solid foundation at Elon with gifts to Belk Library, Rhodes Stadium, Ernest A. Koury, Sr. Business Center, Gerald L. Francis Center, Alumni Field House, Richard W. Sankey Hall, Schar Center, and The Inn at Elon. Inspired by his own career, the Chandlers endowed the Chandler Family Professional Sales Center in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, providing students with valuable sales experience and contributing to the school’s top-40 national ranking.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Tom Chandler received the Frank S. Holt Jr. Business Leadership Award from the Love School in 2001 and in 2018 was inducted into the Carolinas Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s Concrete Hall of Fame for his longstanding service to the association.

President Emeritus Leo Lambert, left, and Elon University President Connie Ledoux Book, right, pose with Elon Medallion recipient Tom Chandler, center.

Passionate about giving back to his community, Chandler has served in leadership roles with Positive Attitude Youth Center, North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry, Carolinas Ready Mixed Concrete Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, MidCarolina Bank, now American National Bank, Alamance Regional Medical Center, which is now part of Cone Health, Cherokee Council of Boy Scouts of America, Methodist Foundation, and Front Street United Methodist Church. With equal dedication and care, Chandler has tended the family cattle farm in southern Alamance County that he and Lynn built from the ground up and serves as a source of peace and renewal for the entire family.

Chandler attended Duke University before earning his bachelor’s degree in economics from Lynchburg College and went on to play a significant leadership role in public and private higher education by serving on the boards of Appalachian State University and Louisburg College along with Elon.

Chandler shares a deep love for his family, including his beloved wife Lynn, son Bob Chandler, executive vice president of Chandler Concrete and an Elon trustee, daughter-in-law Amy, son Ted Chandler, president of Chandler Concrete, daughter-in-law Teresa, daughter Louise Chandler Cox,  son-in-law Randy, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert read aloud the Elon Medallion citation honoring Chandler.

Vickie Somers ’89

Vickie L. Somers served Elon University for four decades with grace, dedication, and a generous spirit, building nationally recognized purchasing and auxiliary services offices that are vital functions for student and institutional success.

Somers joined the community of what was then Elon College in 1975 to serve as secretary in the business office under the leadership of the late W.E. “Buster” Butler, Jr. ’44, quickly demonstrating an attention to detail and professionalism that would serve her well as she rose through the administrative ranks in a series of increasingly complex roles.

Gerald Whittington, left, and Elon University President Connie Ledoux Book, right, with Elon Medallion recipient Vickie Somers, center, during Opening Day ceremonies on Aug. 14, 2023, in Alumni Gym on the campus of Elon University.

In 1982, after serving as a purchasing agent and manager, Somers was named founding director of the purchasing office and together with her team built an exemplary operation that ensured Elon received the greatest value for goods and services that kept the university running smoothly during a period of historic growth. In recognition of her leadership, the purchasing office received a “Best in Class” award in 1997 from the National Association of Educational Buyers, one of only 10 schools to receive the association’s top service designation, helping to strengthen Elon’s national reputation for quality and innovation.

Highly respected for her work ethic, expertise, and relentless commitment to excellence, Somers was named director of auxiliary services in 2001, leading key functions of the university as it continued to rise, including dining and catering, vending, print and mail services, the campus bookstore and licensing and trademarks. Somers led key developments in the growth of the campus, including the merger and modernization of mail and print services, the opening of Clohan and Lakeside dining halls, and the relocation of the bookstore from Moseley Center to expanded space in the Elon Town Center under the Barnes & Noble brand.

Maintaining the highest standards in everything she did, Somers built close relationships with Barnes & Noble, Coca-Cola, Harvest Table Culinary Group and other campus vendors, demonstrating a deep understanding of how auxiliary services contribute to strong student recruitment, philanthropic support, and national rankings. Famously collaborative and loyal, Somers also built strong relationships with colleagues across departments and at other institutions, generously sharing her extensive knowledge to help others succeed, while serving as an inspirational role model for other leaders on campus.

In her remarks after receiving the Elon Medallion, Somers offered a thank you to those at Elon and her peers across higher education who supported her and mentored her during her career. “Thank you for this unbelievable award,” Somers said. “I am so humbled to receive it. … One of the main principles that has guided me through my years at Elon has been constantly asking the question, ‘How will this benefit the students?’ Students were always at the heart of what we did, and I think that contributed to making Elon the institution it is today.”

Somers served on the board of the National Association of Educational Buyers and as president and treasurer of the association’s Carolinas region, and also served for 15 years with the National Association of College Auxiliary Services (NACAS), including as secretary, vice president, and president of their South Region. The NACAS honored Somers with the South Regional Mentor Award in 2011 and a Lifetime Achievement award shortly before her retirement in 2015.

Gerald Whittington, left, and Elon University President Connie Ledoux Book, right, pose with Elon Medallion recipient Vickie Somers, center.

Endearing herself to colleagues with her caring and resilient spirit, Somers earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Elon in 1989 as a nontraditional student, taking courses part time while keeping up with her full-time work duties. In 2003, Elon named Somers Administrative Staff Member of the Year.

Somers remains connected to Elon by attending football games and the Life@Elon continuing education program. She is a devoted donor to the university, supporting scholarships, the Elon Experiences, Elon Academy and the Phoenix Club. Somers is a member of Order of the Oak after making an estate gift to endow a scholarship in her name

The deep love Somers has for Elon is matched only by her love for her family, which includes her mother, Bessie Somers, her late father Lawrence Somers, brother Larry Somers, and his wife, Cheryl.

Senior Vice President Emeritus Gerald Whittington read aloud the Elon Medallion citation honoring Somers.