Matching funds double the value of 56 new endowed scholarships

Blue Hens have no problem answering a call for support — whether it’s on the field, in the classroom or in the community. Now, less than a year after University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis announced his President’s Scholarship Challenge, more than 50 donors responded by establishing 56 new endowed undergraduate scholarships.

“We are deeply moved by the stories our donors have shared about the motivations for their amazing generosity and support,” Assanis said. “This was truly a collective effort that demonstrated the power of our Blue Hen community. By working together through the President’s Scholarship Challenge, we are creating opportunities for life-changing impact for generations to come.”

This unprecedented challenge, part of Delaware First: The Campaign for the University of Delaware, increased student support through a one-to-one, financial match for gifts designed to create new, endowed undergraduate scholarships. The purpose of the challenge, which provided the match for scholarship gifts ranging from $50,000 to $250,000, was to help ensure that the University remains competitive in attracting diverse undergraduates who are the best and brightest students. For many students, the path to fulfilling their educational dreams starts with a scholarship.

As a part of this initiative, Assanis and his wife, Eleni, were among those who stepped up to the challenge, establishing two scholarships to support and enhance international study and experience.

“Dennis and I are thrilled to join the many alumni and friends in supporting UD students to advance new opportunities for their education and enrichment,” said Eleni Assanis. “Programs like this are truly inspiring, reminding us all about the power of philanthropy and our shared mission to make a difference in the Blue Hen community.”

Ultimately, the challenge means that these scholarships will help more Blue Hens reach their academic goals across campus, while creating a lifelong personal link to UD for both donors and recipients. A lasting connection to campus personally moved many donors to support students.

Sue and Charles Vallone, parents of current UD senior Victoria, decided to establish a scholarship as a way to honor Victoria’s time at UD, creating a permanent link to the University and leaving a legacy for their children. The Vallone Family Scholarship will help students overcome financial burdens to achieve their academic goals.

“The challenge allowed us to be part of the UD community in a larger way,” Charles Vallone said. “It also allowed us to bring much more value to the scholarship than we were originally planning.”

Alumni of the Sigma Nu Fraternity, Delta Kappa Chapter, seized the opportunity to honor one of their own through the challenge. They established the Peter C. Frank Memorial Scholarship in memory of their fraternity brother who died during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. At the time, Peter Frank, Class of 1993, was a vice president and financial analyst for Fred Alger & Co. on the 93rd floor of North Tower at the World Trade Center.

“We’re honored to be a part of Sigma Nu and to have this chance to assist students in this way, while creating a fund in Pete’s name that will last forever,” said Jeff Vande Poele, Class of 1994, who, as president of the fraternity’s UD alumni chapter, helped organize the gift. “It’s a true honor to know the challenge has been completed and we were part of it. Now all Sigma Nus can donate to this fund, knowing they can help grow the fund even more in memory of a fallen fraternity brother.”

Friends and family remember Frank as a natural business leader and team player, and as such a scholarship in his name will support incoming freshman enrolled in his home college, the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, and will be awarded based on financial need and academic merit.

For many donors, the appeal of the challenge was the chance to dramatically increase opportunities for students. Allison Fish Dolan, Class of 1976, is creating scholarship support that didn’t exist when she enrolled at the University in 1972 to study the then-relatively new field of computer science. She said she hopes the first-year students in the College of Engineering who receive the Allison Fish Dolan ’76 Scholarship will feel inspired to make their own path in an ever-evolving industry — as she did.

“I hope I can help inspire students who are analytical, creative and independent thinkers. Students who know they want to make a difference, but may not know exactly how they will do it,” Dolan said. “This scholarship will support UD students who are curious about a variety of subjects, creating opportunity for them so that they view their college experience as a key to opening many different doors.”

Jim Dicker, vice president of development and alumni relations, said he is grateful to all of the donors who rose to the challenge. Although the challenge is over, Dicker said he hopes Blue Hens continue to be inspired to help current and future students through endowed scholarships that create lasting legacies of support.

“Thanks to President Assanis and this challenge, our Blue Hen community was able to come together in a monumental way in support of students,” said Dicker. “Not only does their support create an impact on today’s campus, but it creates far-reaching support for future students. Through this generosity, we can help students succeed and inspire the next generation of scholars who understand what a helping hand can do for others.”

All donors who participated in the President’s Scholarship Challenge are recognized here.

About the Campaign

Delaware First: The Campaign for the University of Delaware was publicly launched on Nov. 10, 2017. The comprehensive engagement and fundraising campaign unites Blue Hens across the nation to accelerate UD’s mission of cultivating tomorrow’s leaders, creating solutions to grand challenges, inspiring innovations and transforming lives. The united effort will help create an extraordinary student experience at UD and extend its impact on the region and the world.

For more information, call 302-831-2104 or email