Barry Bradberry’s journey to Elon dates back to his high school years in Virginia Beach, Virginia. It was here where his principal Jeff Davis — class of 1950 Elon graduate — encouraged him to apply. 

Bradberry spent his first two years in junior college at Chowan University, and then his next two at Elon. He started his admissions career when he first went back and recruited transfer students to Elon from Chowan. 

Bradberry joined Elon’s Office of Admissions officially as a counselor soon after his Elon graduation with the class of 1975, recruiting and mentoring a large number of high school students. He ends his 48-year career at Elon as associate dean of admissions.

Ethan Wu | Elon News Network

Barry Bradberry embraces his friends moments before a group photo on May 16 at the Inman Admissions Welcome Center.

Bradberry described his admissions philosophy being all about personal connections. Throughout his career he said he has spent a lot of time with families, getting a chance to sit down and talk before the scheduled information sessions for prospective students.. 

“It’s not just about the information session, it’s personal,” Bradberry said. “Meeting people face-to-face is what makes a difference, and that’s where we have succeeded.”

Alongside roughly 100 members of fellow faculty and alumni, Elon held a retirement party to celebrate Bradberry on May 16 in the Inman Admissions Welcome Center.

Ethan Wu | Elon News Network

Friends and family gather May 16 to commemorate the Associate Dean of Admissions, Barry Bradberry, for his time and contributions to Elon University at the Inman Admissions Welcome Center. Bradberry is retiring after 49 years of working for Elon.

At the celebration, University President Connie Book said it’s amazing to contemplate the impact Bradberry has had on the university’s success. 

When Bradberry first joined the admissions staff in 1975, the total university enrollment had just passed 2,000 students, with a graduating class of just 400 students. As of the 2023-24 registrar's report, Elon’s total enrollment numbers have surpassed 7,200 and the graduating class amounts to over 1,500 students.

“He has been the first point of contact for Elon with tens of thousands of students,” Book said during the retirement celebration. “The story of Elon’s remarkable growth and development is Barry’s story.”

According to Book, Bradberry’s emphasis on personal relationships and kindness is what has propelled the university forward throughout the years.

Ethan Wu | Elon News Network
Barry Bradberry stands among the crowd listening to speakers praising his character and contributions at Elon University on May 16 in the Inman Admissions Welcome Center.

She also described him as a resource and problem-solver for families who truly understood that making a college choice is an important decision.

There is no doubt that at a college fair, Barry stood out among all other counselors,” Book said. “When you met Barry, you didn’t forget him, and you didn’t forget Elon.”

Vice President for Enrollment Greg Zaiser shared similar feelings with Book during the celebration regarding Bradberry’s impact on the university.

“When people think of Elon University, they think about Barry, He’s Mr. Elon,” Zaiser said during his speech. “What an incredible legacy.” 

Bradberry concluded by saying  he could not have had a better experience during his longtime career at Elon. He also emphasized that the people he has connected with at the university are going to be the hardest thing to walk away from.

“It’s a great tight-knit group of people here, I’ve worked for some incredible people,” Bradberry said. “The hardest thing about leaving is that I’m leaving a community, rather than a building.”