Meet this Year's Alumni Achievement Award Winner
“I was extremely honored when AU Vice President Al Checcio called me to tell me I’d been chosen for the Alumni Achievement Award,” says Jack C. Cassell, SOC/BA ’77. The alumnus, AU trustee, and loyal supporter of AU athletics, told a crowd of more than 350 alumni and friends at the Homecoming & Reunion Gala on October 16 that AU was, and still is, “home” to him.
“AU is a special to me because as a child we lived on campus for several months while were in transition to a new home, and I spent so much time on the weekends with my brothers and sister around campus, playing in the gym and as ball-boys and bat-boys for the varsity teams.” In fact, then-Athletic Director Bob Frailey even had boy-sized AU uniforms made for Jack and his brother Stafford Jr., he remembers. “They gave us the numbers 0 and 00 since we’re twins. I can’t remember which one I was, but my brother would probably say I was 00,” he laughs.
If the Cassell name sounds familiar, that’s because the old Cassell Center gym across Massachusetts Avenue that was demolished a couple years ago to make way for the new Katzen Arts Center was named for Jack’s father, legendary AU coach, athletic director, and vice president Stafford H. “Pop” Cassell, CAS/BA ’36, who passed away when Jack was 10. Last year, the basketball court was named in Pop’s honor, and an AU scholarship and Hall of Fame endowment also bear his name.
Jack Cassell noted in his award acceptance remarks that his time at AU was an “honor and a pleasure… a place I always wanted to go because of my father’s dedication and passion for the school. I wanted to carry on that legacy if I had the opportunity.”
And he certainly has. He was selected for the Alumni Achievement Award for his service to American University and his outstanding professional success. Cassell is president, CEO and owner of Visual Aids Electronics, Corp. (VAE), a national company with 44 offices in the USA and Canada that supplies video and audiovisual equipment for high-profile meetings and events, such as the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and NATO's 50th anniversary. The company is expanding, too, he says, and will have 54 offices by year’s end. He also owns Conference Systems Inc., which provides simultaneous language interpretation services for meetings, including the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, and the World Bank.
“I have passion for AU because it’s a wonderful place,” says Cassell, who has been promoting AU to local high school students in South Florida, where he lives. As a result, The Benjamin School in Palm Beach had three students choose AU last year, making AU one of their most-chosen out-of-state schools.
And what high school senior wouldn’t want to choose AU when people like Cassell stand before them as living proof of the success AU alums can achieve?