Giving with Purpose: Elaine Dawson

Elaine Dawson has a special connection to Campbell that begins years before her start date. 

Elaine’s family called Buies Creek home in the early 70’s when her father worked in public relations at Campbell. Looking back to that time, Elaine reflects, “A lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same.” An elementary school student at the time, Elaine remembers riding her bike from school to her father’s office in the Administration Building, and the pair would walk across campus together to get a Vanilla Coke. 

Eventually, Elaine’s family moved to Texas where she spent many years. As her parents got older, they decided to move back to Buies Creek, and Elaine, desiring to be close to her parents, returned to the area, as well. After about a year, her father encouraged Elaine to interview for a position in the Divinity School in 2004. 

It was a move that Elaine did not regret.

“I really feel like the Lord blessed me by being here. Being able to work at Campbell, being close to my parents, and the friendships that I’ve made have really helped me through some difficult times.” 

Elaine now serves as the administrative assistant for academic affairs in the Divinity School. In her role, she interacts with countless students every day and every semester. There is one group, however, that holds a special place in her heart. 

Hugh and Edith McKinney’s legacy

Before their passing, Elaine’s parents established scholarships for Christian Studies, Communication Studies and Divinity. It is no surprise that Elaine is a loyal supporter of these funds. “I’m honored to have those scholarships that I can give to,” Elaine says, “And I can actually see the students they’ve helped.”  

Five students have received the divinity scholarship and graduated while Elaine has been in her role, and she knows them all personally. Even outside of the divinity scholarship recipients, Elaine makes an effort to meet the recipients of the other schools’ scholarships. 

“I feel like that’s a way to keep my parents’ legacy alive, because when students get the scholarship, that gives me a chance to say, ‘Let me tell you about the people who started it.’” 

Although her father never did meet any of his scholarship recipients, Elaine says, “I know he would have been proud of all of them.” 

One of those five scholarship recipients is Morgan Pajak (‘17, ‘21), who now serves Campbell’s office of spiritual life as an associate campus minister. Morgan reflects, “There is something special about knowing stories about the people behind the scholarship you have received.” Morgan feels she has been able to get to know Dr. and Mrs. McKinney through the memories and stories Elaine shares. “It is when you hear her say, ‘Oh, mother and dad…’ that you know you will either be laughing or crying.” 

Elaine’s ability to carry on her parents’ legacy impacts the scholarship recipients’ education in tangible ways. Morgan maintains, “I truly feel like it makes your dedication and commitment to your studies greater because you want their name and legacy to live into what you do and what you become. I am a better minister because of Hugh and Edith McKinney.” 

Investing in students’ success

While Elaine has a special connection to the funds she supports through the Employee Giving Campaign, she encourages faculty and staff to do their research and find a cause that is special for them. There are thousands of funds to support, covering almost all areas of the University. “When you give to Campbell, you’re contributing to the future and success of not only the school, but each and every student, and it’s our graduates that are making our future.”

Elaine reflects on her time at Campbell, saying, “It has been great, for 18 years, to want to come to work, to be happy to come to work. I’m just very thankful.” 

Giving with Purpose

2021 – 2022 Employee Giving Campaign

Each year, our employees have the opportunity to support the mission and students of Campbell University. All employees are encouraged to give at a level they feel comfortable and to the fund that means the most to them. Your gifts impact the lives of our biggest investment: our students.

Giving with Purpose blog series:

LeJon Poole

Jared Fries

Antoine Al-Achi