Marquette campus in the spring.

Turning memories into impact

Dennis Sell, COBA ’72

Alumnus Dennis Sell, COBA ’72, already had a beloved tradition of giving annually to Marquette when he decided to supplement those gifts with a life-changing estate pledge to support future students.

“I began to think about who had been the greatest influence in making me who I am as an adult,” he says. “Aside from my parents, it’s been the education I received from grade school through college.”

The realization inspired Dennis to allocate a portion of his estate to Marquette as well as his Catholic grade school (Algoma St. Mary’s) and his high school (Algoma High School), with the remaining quarter benefiting a number of charities including United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and the Wisconsin Humane Society.

“I attended Marquette in the ’60s and received quite a bit of aid because my dad had passed away and my mom was a registered nurse,” Dennis says. “In conversations with Marquette’s University Advancement team, I decided I wanted to create a special scholarship for first-generation, Milwaukee-area students.”

For Dennis, who worked the final 17 years before retirement as controller for United Way, it was important that his gift empower students to continue their education through college. “At United Way I gained an appreciation for the good work nonprofits do, and my giving to Marquette is yet another way to advance that effort,” he says.

The best years

“My time at Marquette was four of the best years of my life,” Dennis says. “As a small-town kid from Algoma, Wisconsin, I’d never experienced anything like being on the dorm floor with kids from all over the United States. I met people from Chicago, New York, New England.”

During his student days and for another 12 years, Dennis served as statistician for the men’s basketball team and fondly remembers the glories of the Al McGuire years.

“I took those memories and the value of my Jesuit education with me after I graduated,” he says. “For others considering a gift, put yourself in the students’ shoes. Remember your university days and think of how you can help today’s students,” he says.


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