Major Gift Establishes New Scholarship for McKendree Education Students
Lebanon, Ill. — A $100,000 gift to McKendree University from the Allison Cassens Community Foundation has established a new scholarship that will have an immediate and significant impact on education majors. This gift represents the first of several installments to support the Allison Cassens Scholarship Fund, which will benefit students who want to pursue a teaching career at the K-12 level or in special education. It honors the life and legacy of the late Allison Cassens, daughter of Allen and Linda Cassens of Edwardsville. Allison was a teacher, an internationally competitive swimmer, a pilot and a flight instructor who lost her battle with cancer in 2004 at the age of 33.
“This scholarship fund will carry forward Allison Cassens’ passion for teaching—and notably teaching special education children—for years to come, through a new generation of teachers. It will make a great difference in the lives of McKendree students who want to pursue a college education or teaching career but are unable to do so for financial reasons,” said Dr. James Dennis, president. “The university is deeply grateful to the Cassens family for their generosity, benevolence and support.”
A member of the university board of trustees for 18 years, Allen R. Cassens has provided exceptional volunteer and philanthropic leadership, receiving the 2013 Friend of the University Award for his consistent exemplary service. He is the owner of Cassens Corporation holding company, which includes a Chrysler Dodge dealership in Glen Carbon, and a transport company and insurance agency in Edwardsville. He and his wife, Dr. Linda Cassens, a retired professional counselor and the founder of InterAction Limited, have provided financial support for many university projects, including the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts, a natatorium and the annual fund.
The couple has played key roles in other philanthropic endeavors, including Allison’s Friends of Hope, established by their daughter to raise resources for cancer research.
“Allen Cassens’ leadership at McKendree and his family’s support for cancer research are indications of their commitment to the region and beyond. Their compassion and concern for the wellbeing of others is unwavering,” Dennis said.
Left to right are Larry Wehmeyer, a member of the Allison Cassens Community Foundation Committee; Victoria Dowling, senior vice president of McKendree University; Allen and Linda Cassens; and Dr. James Dennis, president of McKendree University. Not pictured is Douglas Braly, a member of the Allison Cassens Community Foundation Committee.