No hard feelings, McMichael

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To be honest, I don’t attend College Coffee very often. But in my 8 a.m.this morning, my professor told us that there would be good food since it was Founder’s Day. I still wasn’t convinced so I texted my friend who usually attends College Coffee. She said she would be there so I decided I would be too.

Founders' Week is currently honoring Dalton McMichael, who contributed the largest gift the university has received used to fund the construction of McMichael Science Center. Photo courtesy of University Relations.

As we were sipping our orange juice, a student ambassador came around and handed us pamphlets. She informed us that the McMichael family was being recognized for their contributions to Elon. My mind brought me back to last semester when I spent five nights a week in McMichael for Chemistry tutoring because I accidentally signed up for Chemistry for majors. (I’m a Journalism major).

After getting caught up in the memory of all those nights spent trying to understand oxidation-reduction reactions, Aufbau’s Principle and periodic trends, I shook it off and listened to the rest of the ambassador’s spiel. Dalton MicMichael, Sr. was a textile entrepreneur who has made countless contributions to Elon. These include monetary gifts, but also friendships and time.

When I listened to J. Fred Young, President Emeritus, speak about McMichael, I learned a bit about the man who was responsible for all my nights of suffering. But I had to look past it because McMichael has meant so much to this university.

Young boasted about his friend McMichael, calling him “talented at business, and a genius at friendship.” McMichael contributed the resources necessary to build McMichael. It was the largest gift Elon had received at the time. But Young says that this was not the most generous gift that McMichael has given to our school. Young says that his family is the greatest contribution McMichael could have made. His daughter Gale was the vice-chair of the search committee that selected Leo Lambert to become our president.

Young also said McMichael was known for his integrity. He made a lot of money, yes, but he made it honorably. In addition to his keen business sense, he was also committed to supporting the community. “If there was something good to be done, Daltonwanted to support it,” said Young. “He wanted to be a part of it.”

Elon was founded onMarch 11, 1889. It may be midterm week and I’d be willing to bet that the last thing on our minds is what our school was like 123 years ago. Even as I write this, I am thinking about the final I have to take tomorrow. I know we are all focused on the test we have left before Spring Break is upon us, but I also think it’s important to think about the bigger picture. I’m glad my professor told me to go to College Coffee this morning, even if I went for the wrong reasons. It made me think about how many people have contributed to this university and how lucky I am to go here.

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