Donor Stories and Legacies

Graduate School Brings Couple and Philanthropy Together

Drs. Richard and Elizabeth Elmore

Drs. Richard and Elizabeth Elmore met while they were both in graduate school at Notre Dame at a party after the first home football game against Purdue in 1968. Elizabeth was one of the first lay female graduate students at the University and lived in Lewis Hall, which had been housing for the religious attending the University. The party hosts were serving a drink they called “Rico’s Punch”; Rico was Richard’s nickname from the graduate student softball league. Elizabeth’s first site of him was standing over a cauldron of dry ice so she observed: “You must be Rico.”

Massachusetts native Richard had earned his undergraduate degree at Boston State College and was recruited to Notre Dame’s graduate school by Professor Robert Burns, a friend of one of his history professors at Boston State. Richard was able to fund his graduate education by working as a teaching assistant as well as earning a National Defense Education Act Fellowship. His financial aid package made it much easier for him to focus on his work as a graduate student, and he earned his master’s degree in history in 1970. Richard also worked in the Hesburgh Library in 1971-72.

Elizabeth was an undergraduate student at Saint Mary’s College and had planned to return home to New Jersey after graduation, but that changed when she took an economics class her junior year taught by John Peck and Louis Henry who were graduate students at Notre Dame. The University was then considering a merger with Saint Mary’s College and so wanted to gradually introduce female presence on campus. Impressed by her work in their classes, they asked if she would consider entering the doctoral program in economics at Notre Dame. With the offer of a financial package from Dr. Thomas Swartz, then Chair of the Economics Department, Elizabeth moved to the other side of the Dixie Highway in the fall of 1968 and earned her master’s degree in economics in 1970. She was hired as an instructor in the economics department to teach the undergraduate statistics course (full time in 1970-71 and part time in 1971-72).

Richard and Elizabeth married in August 1970 and went on to earn doctorate degrees from Notre Dame in 1975 and 1976, respectively. Deciding to leave campus, they agreed to relocate to the area of the first job offer. This was for Elizabeth at the new Stockton State College in Pomona, New Jersey, allowing them to be close to her family in New Jersey and to Richard’s family in Boston. The Garden State has been their home ever since.

Over the years Richard held administrative and faculty positions at Stockton and at Mainland Regional High School, from which he retired on June 30, 2014. Elizabeth continues her work as a professor of economics and in the gerontology program at Stockton (now) University and is now director of the Stockton Center for Economic & Financial Literacy. They enjoy spending their summers in Monmouth County in the area of the Jersey Shore Club of Notre Dame.

Frequent visitors to campus, Richard and Elizabeth have maintained a close relationship with the University over the years. The couple purchased a condominium in South Bend in 1998; Elizabeth spent her 2005-06 sabbatical on campus, and they enjoy coming back for football games. They are active members of the South Jersey Notre Dame Club, and more recently Richard has gotten involved with ND Ignite.

Their relationship with Notre Dame has also developed through their gifts to the University. Sorin Society members for many years, the couple established a charitable remainder trust (CRT) after hearing a talk given by Scott Malpass, University of Notre Dame Vice President and Chief Investment Officer. What impressed the Elmores about this type of gift was not only the returns during their lifetime from one of the best-performing endowments in all of higher education but also the ability to add to their trust.

More recently, they established a graduate fellowship in honor of the parents of Reverend Thomas E. Blantz, C.S.C. Richard had met Father Blantz playing softball on the history team in graduate school and served as an RA in Zahm Hall, where Father was Rector. Father Blantz offered the couple’s pre-cana counseling and flew to New Jersey to officiate at their wedding. And they have kept in regular contact with Father Blantz since leaving campus in August 1972.

The inspiration for their gifts is the number of young people in New Jersey who aspire to attend Notre Dame and the desire to say thank you for all the assistance they received during their graduate studies. Thank you, Richard and Elizabeth, for your generosity and support of Our Lady’s University.