Annual Chuck Kane Scholarship: The longest running NEIU tradition


Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Liesl Downey, hosting dinner after a full day of golfing. | Photo by Frannie Mendoza

On August 5, the Chuck Kane Scholarship completed its 47th annual Kane golf event. With over 100 golfers, contest holes, a silent auction, a catered dinner and guest speakers, the day was filled with scheduled fundraising activities. 

According to vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of the NEIU foundation, Liesl Downey, “The Kane Scholarship is almost a half a century old. It’s certainly the university’s longest running philanthropic tradition.”

Originally founded in 1973, the Chuck Kane Scholarship began after a student on campus killed Kane, a professor and coach at NEIU. After that incident occurred, Campus Recreation started the scholarship in his honor. 

“The Kane family has supported it the last 10 years or so,” said Heather Truffer, the assistant director of development for the NEIU foundation.They sponsor it, they golf every year and all of his daughters come out, which is great.”

According to Downey, Kane was, “just a very well respected person. A lot of our alumni from back in the day remember him really fondly. He was a jack-of-all-trades. He was very committed to education. So when he passed away, his colleagues came together and have been doing it ever since.”

At that time, the recipients of the awards were limited to health recreation, physical education and athletic majors. However, “the NEIU foundation took over the event planning process in 2006. We’ve expanded it and now Chuck Kane scholarships are available to all university students, regardless of major,” said Downey.

This golfing event funds a total of seven scholarships on campus. Since 1991, it has raised $403,606. Nearly 200 students have benefited from the $463,457 endowment.

NEIU student Steven Johnson participated in the event this year because he, “likes to golf a little bit, and he helps out on the committee as well.” According to Johnson, all someone needs to join the volunteer committee is, “to show an interest and then talk to Cecil Hynds-Riddle. She puts everyone together.” 

There are many different opportunities for students, alumni, and those with an interest in golf to get involved with next year’s event. “Whether you’re a golfer or not, you can join us. I’m speaking as a very amateur golfer,” said Downey. 

Ashley Agron, the assistant director of alumni relations, has volunteered for the past three years.It is great, a lot more new people have signed up this year,” said Agron. 

Current students are especially encouraged to volunteer their time at next summer’s event because, “it is really important for students to have a presence and interaction with the people who come out and are golfers. Many of them are alumni, former faculty and community members,” Downey explained. “Having that interaction with current students and sharing their experience is so valuable because they’re here to support scholarships. It is nice to connect with those who are going to school right now. It’s powerful to have that experience that students can share.”

Downey also mentioned that the NEIU foundation is “really proud to have the leadership of the president behind the event.” Inaugurated last summer, this was president Gibson’s second annual scholarship.

“I feel great about it, because we have more golfers this year than we did last year. And the more scholarships we have for students, the better,” said Gibson. 

While the origin of the Kane scholarship arose from a death, the overall goal since then has been to provide opportunities for students today. “Back in the day, it was a homegrown effort. And the university saw such value in this tradition that they chose to expand it and it has been growing ever since,” said Downey. “So that is our goal, to keep bringing in new golfers and bringing back long time golfers. Just to keep it a day of fun.”