Noel Allen, after serving 40 years on the board of trustees, was honored with an Elon Medallion on April 19, the highest honor given by the university. Allen grew up in the town of Elon and then was a student at Elon where he served as the student body president. 

Allen has witnessed Elon’s growth as an institution, joining the board when enrollment was under 3,000 students. Allen has been a part of every long range strategic plan, since he was a student member of President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley’s first planning committee in 1966, University President Connie Book said. Allen also served as board chair from 2001 to 2003, when Elon transitioned from a college to a university and adopted the Phoenix as its mascot, Book said.

“Noel has been a steady and calm hand at the rudder,” Book said. “For Noel it's always do the right thing. The right way, the Elon way.”

Allen was also honored with the renaming of Colonnades E to Noel Allen Hall. A sign with his name will be installed this summer. Before July 2020, Colonnades E had been named for former university President William Harper. 

However, his name was removed due to his connection to the lynching of John Jeffress, following a student petition gaining over 5,100 signatures and a board of trustees vote. Jeffress was a Black man who was lynched in 1920 for alleged lynching a 7-year-old in Graham. Harper then led the charge for his arrest and Jeffress was killed before his trial.

When Allen first joined the board, he said the first big issue they faced was divestment in South Africa, in response to the country’s apartheid system. He said he was surprised at the time to be taking on such a political issue, but remembered he was told, “it’s not about politics. It’s about principles.” This has been something that’s guided Allen throughout his time on the board.

“That's what we do,” Allen said. “We rarely digress into things that divide us because we do have this one thing that we believe in in common and love. And it's really a truth that's lasted with me for all those nearly 40 years.”

Allen said he is proud of the growth Elon has had and was proud to have shared this moment with his family, including his son who presented the medallion to him.

“The weight of the medallion bends and pulls me but lifts me,” Allen said.