Elon honors Trustee Noel Allen ’69 for lifelong service to the university

Allen was given the Elon Medallion during a ceremony on Friday, April 19, that also included naming a residence hall in the Colonnades Neighborhood after him.

Noel Allen ’69, whose love for his alma mater and vision for its future have helped the institution become what it is today, was presented with the Elon Medallion, the university’s highest honor for service, on Friday, April 19.

Allen was joined by his family, friends, fellow trustees and members of the university community within the Great Hall in Global Commons, with his son, Jeremy Allen ’07, placing the medallion around his neck to great applause during the ceremony.

“What makes it possible for someone like me to receive this honor?” Allen asked. “It’s easy — it’s an unbroken chain of presidents and board chairs, hard-working and generous visionaries, a premier administrative staff, a faculty that actually really cares and loves to help students learn, great friends, law partners and family.

“This place was founded on hope and vision, but it’s built on courage, generosity, leadership and love,” Allen said.

With nearly four decades of service as a member of the Board of Trustees, Allen has played an integral role in helping shape Elon across multiple generations. He grew up next to what was then Elon College and his father, Simeon Lee Allen, was a World War II veteran who would graduate from Elon in 1966 after persevering for years as a part-time student to earn a degree in mathematics and physics. Allen would graduate from the college three years later with a degree in history, serving as student government president while at Elon. He would go on to make Elon “his lifetime labor of love,” President Connie Ledoux Book said as she walked the crowd through Allen’s accomplishments.

“Every major organization has its ‘pantheon’ — the legendary, long-serving leaders who embody the spirit and the culture of their community,” Book said. “Noel, your service to our community is legendary, unwavering and the definition of the concept of loyalty. Through generations of Elon students, through our remarkable institutional transformation, our growth in size and stature, at the center has been Noel Allen.”

Jeremy Allen ’07 with his father, Trustee Noel Allen ’69 at the Elon Medallion ceremony on Friday, April 19, 2024.

After earning a law degree in 1973 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a degree in international law from the University of Amsterdam the following year, Allen began a successful legal career in 1974, serving for three years as assistant attorney general for the state of North Carolina before opening his own firm, Allen & Pinnix, with partner Jack Pinnix in Raleigh, where he serves as President and Managing Partner with expertise in anti-trust, public policy, administrative, trade regulation, and international law.

An internationally respected attorney, Allen has been recognized for his keen intellect and deep knowledge of administrative law by “The Best Lawyers in America,” named a “Legal Elite” and “North Carolina Super Lawyer” by Business North Carolina magazine, and received the North Carolina Bar Association’s International Law Service Award.

Allen was elected to Elon’s Board of Trustees in 1985 and quickly built a reputation for integrity and principled leadership while serving as board chair from 2001 to 2003, chair of the Executive and Academic Affairs committees, and as a member of the Administrative Personnel Committee, consistently keeping what’s best for student learning at the forefront of his work. In his remarks, current Elon Board of Trustees Chair Dave Porter P’11 P’19 noted that when Allen joined the board, Elon had less than half the students it does now and had just established the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business with its first million-dollar gift while offering its first study abroad program in London.

Life Trustee Barbara Bass ’61 joined Elon’s Board of Trustees the same year as Allen, and said what Elon has been able to accomplish since that time is stunning. “When Noel and I were students, … we never conceived of a campus this large and beautiful,” Bass said. “And every time I come back, it seems to become even more impressive.”

Bass explained that many Elon’s buildings carry the names of the visionaries who helped drive Elon to excellence, and she announced that one will now carry Allen’s name — Noel Allen Hall in the Colonnades Neighborhood. “I’m so happy that today’s students and future generations of students who come to Elon will have the chance to see the name Noel Allen on their building,” Bass said. “When they ask about Noel, they’ll learn about a role model for them, a man of great principle who graduated with pride from Elon and always gave back to the college.”

Noel Allen ’69, second from right, with, from left, Board Chair Dave Porter, President Connie Ledoux Book and Jeremy Allen ’07.

Endearing himself to colleagues with a deep love for Elon and willingness to embrace change, Allen chaired the committees that created the Elon Vision and NewCentury@Elon strategic plans that for more than a decade guided Elon’s unprecedented rise, chaired the 1998 presidential search committee that brought President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert to Elon, and served as a member of the 2017 search committee that selected Connie Book as Elon’s ninth president.

Allen also played an essential leadership role in establishing the Elon University School of Law in Greensboro in 2006, serving on the school’s feasibility study committee and as a current member of the board of advisors, offering innovative ideas on legal training that helped inspire the school’s mission to prepare lawyers to be leaders in their profession and communities.

Famously modest, Allen’s accomplishments have been recognized with numerous awards at his alma mater, including Young Alumnus of the Year in 1982 and Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2008. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Book described Allen as a trusted sounding board for Elon’s presidents who could provide important counsel and a long-term perspective. “There is no better word than ‘wisdom’ to describe Noel’s impact on our community,” Book said. “At moments of critical decisions, in times of great opportunity and crisis, Noel has been a steady and calm hand at the rudder.”

Together with his wife, Sandra Robinson Allen ’72, Allen has generously supported Elon, making gifts to the School of Law, Ernest A. Koury, Sr. Business Center, scholarships, and an estate gift to name the meditation garden in the Lambert Academic Village, and is a member of the School of Law Founder’s Society and Order of the Oak planned giving recognition society.

Allen said that he and his fellow board members continue to be driven by deep-rooted principles in the decisions they have made and the vision they have for the university. He said they rarely digress into things that divide them because of their common love for Elon.

“The weight of the medallion bends and pulls me, but lifts me,” Allen said. “You’re so generous to think of me this way. … When they speak of Elon, will they just be nostalgic, or will they be inspired? I believe we are building every day that inspiration.”