Thursday, February 19, 2015

Doris Cassiday

This is a special edition of my blog that centers on an individual who was central to the creation and success of this College. For those of you who have not met Doris, she is the longest serving of the College's academic advisors. Her recent retirement announcement ended her service as a paid employee of the College after 30 years, one month and one day. All of that time has been spent counseling our students. I have spoken to numerous graduates who had Doris as their advisor, and they are universal in their praise for her clear advice and steady encouragement.

But as amazing as 30 years of employment is, Doris has done much more for this College. She has worked on behalf of the College since before its creation 41 years ago. She was part of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) effort that created the College. After the legislature established us in 1973, she served as the first chairwoman of the Board for Academic Awards, and she was the first president of the College's Foundation. Along the way, Doris has served as Founder, First Board Chair, First Foundation President, and student advisor for 30 years. That is a record of service that is simply unique in American higher education. And these accomplishments are just the ones associated with Charter Oak; she has done more.

We have honored her with the Doris Cassiday Award and an honorary doctorate and the state honored her as Mother of the Year. But none of these honors really does justice to the contributions Doris made to this institution, its mission, and its students. Presidents have come and gone, but Doris has been steadfast.

On Saturday, February 7, 2015, Doris Cassiday peacefully passed away. She lived a full life and served this College with extraordinary grace and skill. She was approaching her 90th birthday and worked full time until a few months ago. Yes, you read that correctly. We will all miss Doris terribly, but for me, it is hard not to be a little jealous of her success. She got to watch her dream - Charter Oak State College - become a reality, then a success, and she eventually became one of its stars. Who among us wouldn't want to be able to say that at the end of our lives?

About a month ago, Doris made a $20,000 donation to the Charter Oak Foundation's Shea Endowment. This is the single largest individual gift to the endowment ever received. In honor of that gift, and all the other gifts Doris has given to us and to our students, we are naming the Advising area The Doris G. Cassiday Academic Wing.

The family is having a private funeral, but if you would like to honor Doris, then I think a donation to the Foundation she both helped create and lead would be appropriate. I encourage you to think of our gifts in her memory as a "match" for Doris' gift. As I made mine, I was imagining her smiling at how her good deed was being amplified.

We will let her family know about every donation made in her memory. Rest in peace, Doris.


  1. This is a lovely tribute. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. My deepest condolence to the family. Thanks to Ms. Cassiday, I would not be the person I am today, fulfilled and reaching goals I never imagined. Thank you.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I went back to school around 2002 to complete my undergraduate studies. Doris was my adviser. She was terrific! Always there to help and prod me through my studies. Imagine how surprised she was when she received a bouquet of flowers upon my graduation. I'm sure it wasn't the first. So thank you Doris, and may you rest in peace.

  5. I am so sad to hear that Doris Cassiday has passed away. She was a wonderful counselor and a truly encouraging presence for those of us returning to college after a long hiatus. She will be sorely missed.