This post will be updated as more information becomes available.
The Elon University Board of Trustees announced Thursday morning that the university has received its largest single donation in history from the parents of two Elon students.
Dwight and Martha Schar, P’16 and P’19, have pledged $12 million for the expansion of the School of Communications and a new multipurpose building that will serve as a central point on campus for national and international speakers, convocation, speeches, rallies and Phoenix Athletics’ events.
After the donation, the fundraising campaign for the School of Communications has jumped to $12.1 million, less than $3 million from the goal of $15 million.
The latest specifics of the convocation center come from The Elon Commitment Plan of 2009, which outlines the need for a 5,000-seat multipurpose center. The Schar’s gift will allow Elon to begin planning the concepts behind this project — from its design to where it will be located on campus.
"When we launched the Elon Commitment Plan, we envisioned building a large, multipurpose arena at the end of the decade,” President Leo Lambert said. “Their gift provides resources to begin the design and financing.”
The building will also put Elon on par with other schools in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), in terms of increasing seating capacity for major athletic events. Elon currently has the smallest facility, both by available seats and by square footage.
Now, Alumni Gym takes up about 25,000 of the 55,526 square feet in Koury and has a capacity of about 1,607 for large events like convocation or basketball games. The average capacity of the arenas in the Colonial Athletic Association is about 5,400, more than double Elon’s.
Athletic Director Dave Blank expressed his gratitude for the Schar family and their generosity that will provide the foundation of financial support.
“We look forward to realizing our dreams and developing a convocation center that will be an outstanding asset for Phoenix Athletics’ programs and the entire university," Blank said.
Dwight and Martha have been actively involved in the campus life since their oldest son enrolled in Elon three years ago, Jim Piatt, vice president of University Advancement said.
The university had approached the couple with its priorities, and after building a strong relationship with the Athletic Department, the Schars showed interest in making a donation. Elon had been corresponding with the couple for several months prior to the official announcement of their pledge.
According to Piatt, $8 million of the $12 million gift will go towards the convocation center, while the remaining amount will fund the new School of Communications building in the McEwen parking lot. The $4 million also gives the family naming rights to that building.
"We're just honored and humbled by this show of philanthropy," Piatt said. "They have been supportive ever since their son enrolled."
Prior to the Schar's donation, the largest single donation from an individual was $5 million in 2007 by Furman Moseley '56. The endowment fund created the Susan Scholarship, a need-based scholarship for outstanding young women who have the potential to succeed at Elon, but might not be able to attend because of financial circumstances. Young women awarded the Susan Scholarship also participate in the Watson & Odyssey program.