Donors ignite the future for students on 11th annual Elon Day

The university marked it annual day of giving with a host of events on campus and around the globe for Elon students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends.

The enthusiasm for Elon Day inside Alumni Gym rippled across campus and extended around the globe on Thursday morning as the university celebrated its 11th annual day of giving. And the day was just getting started.

Elon Day provides a special opportunity each year for students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends of the university to show off their Elon pride by coming together to support student success and the university’s future. During the first Elon Day in 2004, the university saw 1,000 gifts generate $100,000 in support. Across the past 10 years, those numbers have swelled to include more than 45,000 gifts providing $19 million in support for all aspects of the university, with a primary focus on student scholarships and student success.

Members of the university community pose in the photobooth as part of celebrations on campus on Elon Day, March 7, 2024.

“Today is a day all about celebrating the spirit of our community, the dedication of our students, faculty, staff and alumni, the unwavering support of the entire Elon community to our mission of learning,” President Connie Ledoux Book said to the hundreds gathered in Alumni Gym Thursday morning for a special Elon Day College Coffee. “As we celebrate Elon Day, let’s remember the impact of philanthropy and how it helps us move strategic initiatives forward, creating opportunities for our students to thrive.”

Elon Day is filled with challenges that allow university supporters to better leverage their gifts to the university and expand the impact they can make through their contributions. As College Coffee got underway, Associate Vice President for University Advancement John Barnhill announced that the university community had already met the first goal of 1,111 gifts (celebrating the 11th Elon Day), which unlocked a $50,000 gift from Laurie and Rich ’87 Johnson P’17 that will endow a new internship scholarship.

Young Commons was the sight for Taco ‘Bout Philanthropy and the Student Lounge on Elon Day, March 7, 2024.

“It’s hard to believe this is our 11th year doing this, but it just shows the pride in the university over the last 11 years,” Barnhill told the crowd in Alumni Gym. “Today, we have a chance to keep going on that initial vision and we’re going to ignite the future for current students.”

During her remarks, President Book shared that the university trustees and Parents Council had joined together to provide $100,000 to match gifts throughout the day. “I think that’s worth celebrating,” Book said. “Let’s make Elon Day a memorable one filled with joy, celebration, generosity and the shared commitment to our students and to building a better world.”

Student Body President Britt Mobley ’24 speaks to the crowd gathered in Alumni Gym for a special College Coffee celebration on Elon Day, March 7, 2024.

Student Body President Britt Mobley ’24 took the stage to share another new challenge for the community, announcing that Elon parent Preston Cain P’24 and the family of a member of the Class of 2023 that chooses to remain anonymous had joined together to offer a $200,000 gift for the HealthEU initiative if the university hit the 1,889-gift mark by 1 p.m. in recognition of the year Elon was founded.

“This is truly a special day on campus and it’s great to see how our community continually supports Elon students,” Mobley said.

Elon supporters easily met the 1 p.m. challenge and then moved on to the next, with $300,000 provided by Trustee Dave Porter P’11 P’19 and his wife, Jen Porter P’11 P’19, and two anonymous donors to fund three new internship endowments if Elon Day hit 2,811 gifts by 5 p.m.

John Barnhill, associate vice president for university advancement, speaks about Elon Day, as President Connie Ledoux Book, left, listens, March 7, 2024.

Throughout the day on Thursday, supporters had the opportunity to compete for a series of Bonus Bucks, which are awarded for completing different challenges and can be used to provide extra dollars for the campus cause of the contributor’s choice. Bonus Bucks this year were generously provided by Ferris and Beth Way ’97, Mike Proctor ’98 and Jaime Proctor ’00, Mark James ’83, John Marshall ‘01 and many other generous, anonymous supporters.

By midday, Young Commons was buzzing with on-campus opportunities for students, faculty and staff to grab a bite to eat at “Taco ‘Bout Philanthropy” as they learned about the power of giving, or the design their own custom cellphone wallet. Cold treats were available from Pelican’s SnoBalls, with friends gathering to snap a quick picture in the photobooth in front of Mosley Center as well. Student entrepreneurs offered items for sale through the Oak Originals pop-up shop.

As a special treat, Elon alumni Joey Gizzi ’18 and Steven Lannum ’18 from AreYouKiddingTV were on campus throughout the day with a special program featuring giveaways in Alumni Gym on Thursday night. That program followed a Senior Toast in the Great Hall in Global Commons and preceded Elon Day Bingo in McKinnon Hall.

The celebration wasn’t limited to Elon’s campus. Elon’s nearly three dozen alumni chapters in the United States and abroad hosted events on Elon Day to celebrate the power of philanthropy and to gather together in support of the university’s mission.