top of page
A Brief History

Iron Tree Blooming (ITB) sprang from student Brian Keating’s interest in founding a meditation society on campus. After completing English professor Barbara Gordon’s Winter Term course called "Zen and Writing," he approached her about joining forces to provide an ongoing opportunity for the Elon community to practice meditation.

In 1999, Brian founded the group and served as its first leader. Shortly thereafter, the Student Government Association (SGA) requested that all groups on campus join SGA.


The name, Iron Tree Blooming, comes from an image used in a Zen koan to describe enlightenment.  One may ask how it is possible for an iron tree to bloom. When one is enlightened, one is seeing and experiencing things in a new, refreshing, and innocent way. One might say life is “blooming" in front of one's eyes. 

Largely through the determined efforts of Brian's successor, Brooke Droy, Iron Tree Blooming completed the SGA approval process and became a registered SGA organization in 2001.


Iron Tree Blooming was founded and is grounded in the Rinzai Zen tradition in affiliation with the North Carolina Zen Center. However, ITB encourages the exploration of all Buddhist traditions.


Today, Iron Tree is nearly 16 years old and remains one of first and longest running organizations at Elon University.

Our Past Leaders

Brian Keating
Brooke Droy
Larry Butler
Kristin Jones

Kristen Bowden

Chad Zimmermann

Coral Zayas

Amanda Ketner

Jeremy Burr

Maggie Castor

Steven Whitener

Kelly Foran

Margaret Bryant

Chris Bertrand

Cayley Gosnell

Ryan McElhinney

Thomas Vivona

Lauren Siedlecki (Current leader)


*If you were once a leader of Iron Tree Blooming and do not see your name above or a picture of yourself to the right, please contact Barbara Gordon (

bottom of page