You are here: American University President Announcements AU Receives $3 Million Gift to Launch New Era in Athletics

American University
Washington, DC

Memorandum September 17, 2019

AU Community
Sylvia M. Burwell, President
AU Receives $3 Million Gift to Launch New Era in Athletics

American University is an extraordinary community of people whose dedication and generosity have shaped this institution. Today, I am proud to announce that American University has received a $3 million leadership gift from a couple who have called AU home for generations—Jack Cassell, SOC/BA ’77, current Board member and former Board chairman, and his wife, Denise.

With this generous gift, we will begin planning for a new Center for Athletic Performance, a state-of-the-art facility that will attract, support, and engage our community while helping our student-athletes and Patriot League champion teams reach new heights.

In the words of our Director of Athletics and Recreation Dr. Billy Walker, “The Center for Athletic Performance will be a catalyst for our future growth and success, and we are tremendously grateful to Jack and Denise Cassell for their extraordinary generosity. Jack literally grew up on this campus and has served AU with distinction his entire life—from bat boy to student-athlete to Chairman of the Board of Trustees. This generous gift towards the Center for Athletic Performance builds on the Cassell Family legacy established by Stafford ‘Pop’ Cassell, Jack’s dad and ‘Father of AU Athletics.’ This gift will impact our department for years to come and we can’t begin to thank Jack and Denise enough!”

The Cassell family has a long philanthropic history at AU and deep connections to both our Athletics program and to our students. They recognize how this facility will enhance the student experience while providing resources for the greater community, as well.

When speaking about this gift, Jack Cassell emphasizes his desire to support the future of our institution saying, “I believe strongly in the trajectory of American University, and through this gift, my family and I want to ensure students who come to AU have the same exceptional experience that we have had. We want them to find AU to be a welcoming home, one that will also help them achieve more than they thought they could before.”

The Cassell family is rooted in this university and its values. Jack’s father, Stafford Cassell, CAS/BA ’36, was an AU coach, athletic director, and vice president. He saw the AU community not simply as his workplace, but as a home for his family. Jack has continued this tradition, serving on American University’s Board of Trustees since 2003, and as chairman from May 2015 to May 2019. Jack is a passionate AU Eagles fan, serving as chair of the AU Athletics Committee for six years. He and Denise are proud AU parents of Jaqueline Cassell, SOC/BA ’14, and Devon Bradley, Kogod/BSBA ’14. In 2013, the university opened a new residence hall, named Cassell Hall, to honor $3 million in gifts from the family. Jack and Denise’s additional $3 million gift this year continues their philanthropic leadership on behalf of our students and AU Athletics.

This gift builds momentum as we embark on our new Changemakers strategic plan. We are grateful to Jack and Denise Cassell for their steadfast support and their ongoing commitment to our community. They inspire us to excel, challenge us to fulfill our mission, and cheer our success. From Eagles everywhere to some of our most dedicated, thank you Jack and Denise!