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Alumni couple gives $5M to support student scholars, faculty leaders at Vanderbilt University

by Dec. 3, 2018, 4:20 PM

Gift propels Opportunity Vanderbilt initiative during its 10th year

(Vanderbilt University)
(Vanderbilt University)

Undergraduate financial aid and support for faculty research and teaching opportunities are the focus of a new $5 million gift to Vanderbilt University. The commitment from alumni Elizabeth Sauereisen Allen, BS’83, and Vanderbilt Board of Trust member Greg Allen, BA’84, builds on their legacy of generosity toward the university and continues their support for faculty and program leadership, as well as current and future student scholars.

“The Allens’ impact on the Vanderbilt community is felt far and wide,” said Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “They’ve both contributed generously as alumni volunteers, and Greg has provided key leadership as a board trustee. But they’ve also transformed our university through forward-thinking philanthropy, as evidenced by this gift. I’m very appreciative of Elizabeth’s and Greg’s dedication to helping expand opportunities for our talented scholars here at Vanderbilt—both our students and the faculty who teach them.”

“I’m very appreciative of Elizabeth’s and Greg’s dedication to helping expand opportunities for our talented scholars here at Vanderbilt—both our students and the faculty who teach them.”

The Allens’ commitment supports the university’s nationally renowned financial aid program, Opportunity Vanderbilt, through a gift and bequest to their previously established scholarship, the Elizabeth and Greg Allen Family Scholars at the College of Arts and Science. Opportunity Vanderbilt, the university’s scholarship effort for undergraduates, currently is celebrating its 10th anniversary. During the past decade, alumni, parents and friends of the university have responded with gifts exceeding $400 million, which has provided support to more than 10,000 students. Today, more than 65 percent of Vanderbilt undergraduates receive financial assistance.

With their commitment, the Allens also answered the university’s new Faculty Fellowship Challenge to invest in rising faculty stars at Vanderbilt. Their gift established the Greg S. Allen Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow in Philosophy, the Greg S. Allen Dean’s Faculty Fellow in Philosophy, and the Sauereisen Director of the Undergraduate Business Minor Program. Chancellor Faculty Fellowships support recently tenured faculty, while Dean’s Faculty Fellowships support tenure-track professors. Directorships, meanwhile, recognize administrative leaders, including non-tenure track faculty.

“The Allens’ generosity enables Vanderbilt to foster a distinctive learning community where talented students from all backgrounds can come together and thrive under the guidance of world-class faculty,” said Susan R. Wente, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “But this gift impacts more than just the scholarship, fellowship and directorship recipients—it benefits the entire Vanderbilt campus, as well as the lives and communities that the recipients touch.”

“This gift impacts more than just the scholarship, fellowship and directorship recipients—it benefits the entire Vanderbilt campus, as well as the lives and communities that the recipients touch.”

Elizabeth and Greg Allen reside in Charlottesville, Virginia. Greg is managing partner of CI Partners, an investment firm that manages a portfolio of closely held companies and related investments primarily in the food, beverage and health care industries. He serves as a director on the boards of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Airrosti Rehab Centers, American Fidelity Corporation and the Houston Astros major league baseball franchise. Greg is also active on the nonprofit boards of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Virginia, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and the Allen Family Foundation. Elizabeth is a freelance designer and is also active as a member of Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science Board of Visitors and participates on the alumni interview and career network committees.

The couple has four children: Jake, Cooper, Ivy and Erik, BA’15, who majored in economics at Vanderbilt and is now a director of business development at Balcones Distilling in Dallas.

“With the 10th anniversary of Opportunity Vanderbilt underway and the Faculty Fellowship Challenge just announced, Elizabeth and I thought it was an ideal time to make this commitment to both,” said Greg. “We’ve seen how Opportunity Vanderbilt has shaped the university for the better, reducing need-based loans by nearly 70 percent and drawing some of the most accomplished students from around the country to campus. And we can speak firsthand to the importance of having top-notch faculty who expose those students to life-changing teaching and research. These two efforts—supporting undergraduate financial aid and faculty opportunities—go hand in hand. We’re happy to do our part in advancing both.”

“Vanderbilt has made a continuing difference in our lives, and we’re thrilled to be able to give back in this way,” added Elizabeth. “Whether we’re talking about Opportunity Vanderbilt or the Faculty Fellowship Challenge, this gift is ultimately about preparing leaders and powering discovery at the university we love.”

The Allens’ impact on Vanderbilt already has been felt by students. Jacqueline Boone, a current recipient of the Elizabeth and Greg Allen Family Scholarship, plans to leverage the Allens’ generosity to help others.

“A Vanderbilt education means that I have an opportunity to connect with other people with the goal of impacting the world,” Boone said. “Coming here, I had an idea of what I wanted to major in, but in these few short months, talking to people and learning new things changed my perspective on what I thought I wanted to do. I now realize that receiving an education here means that I have the duty to effect change in my community to benefit society as a whole.”

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