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News > AFAI Stories > Sustaining a tradition of support for Arcadia

Sustaining a tradition of support for Arcadia

Susan Jackson Tressider '84 '90M and Richard Tressider '90M carry forward her family's legacy at the University

For Susan Jackson Tressider ’84 ’90M, some of her earliest memories involve Beaver College. Her mother, Marie-Louise Vermeiren Jackson ’09H, a Belgian native, taught French at the College in the 1960s.

“I’d go to campus with her and sit in her office. Sometimes I’d see the department chair, Helene DuVal, and she’d speak fluent French with my mom,” Tressider recalls. “Mom was very close with the other professors at Beaver. I even had babysitters who were Beaver students, and they came from all over the world.”

Beaver College remained a central force in the Jackson family’s life long after Marie-Louise left teaching. Tressider spent her first semester of college at Ohio University but found herself uncomfortable at such a large institution. Then, she received an invitation from her friend, Janice Hardiman, a Beaver College student.

“She said, ‘Why don’t you come sit in on a class with me and see what you think?’” Tressider says. “I fell in love with the campus again, became a commuter student for the semester, and moved onto campus for my sophomore year.”

Tressider earned both an undergraduate degree in English in 1984 and later a master’s degree in counseling in 1990. In between degrees, Tressider reconnected with fellow Beaver College graduate student Richard Tressider ’90M, an acquaintance from her teenage years, who would later become her husband. Although the occasion was somber—Hardiman passed away because of ovarian cancer at an unthinkably young age, and the Jacksons and Tressiders were friends of the Hardimans’—it further cemented the couple’s ties to Beaver College and Arcadia.

“Arcadia has always been very important to us as a family, but we also recognize that it has a tremendous value in our community,” says Susan Tressider, now the president of the Windmill Foundation, alongside Richard, who serves as vice-president.

In 1989, Susan’s father, Eugene Jackson ’90H, created the Marie-Louise Vermeiren Jackson Endowed Scholarship in her mother’s honor. The scholarship has supported Arcadia students pursuing careers in education for more than 30 years, but the Tressiders saw an opportunity to broaden and deepen the family’s support recently through the Arcadia Financial Aid Initiative (AFAI). Launched in 2019, the AFAI offered donors a 1:1 match for gifts to new or existing endowed scholarships, allowing the university to provide greater and more equitable access for students seeking an Arcadia degree. The Tressiders made a commitment, which they plan to fulfill in five years, that will greatly expand the resources the Marie-Louise Vermeiren Jackson Endowed Scholarship can provide to Arcadia students.

Through the Fourjay Foundation, Susan Tressider and her brother also created the Marie-Louise and Eugene Jackson International Fund for Student and Faculty Development at Arcadia. Susan has seen the value of supporting the University firsthand through her work with the Fourjay and Windmill Foundations. She’s visited with the leaders of hundreds of Philadelphia-area nonprofits, and she’s delighted to frequently find that those leaders are fellow Arcadia alumni.

“People who go to Arcadia and graduate are doers,” she says. “These are people who aren’t just adding degrees to their resumes, they’re trying to apply them to do something important, no matter what their passion is, from art, to physical therapy, to education, to the sciences.”

Yet she and her husband also recognize the increasing hurdles that today’s students face in attaining the kind of education they need to turn their passions into professional pursuits. That knowledge — alongside their faith in the strategic vision of Arcadia’s leadership — is why they believe so strongly in supporting the University.

“We give back because of all we received through our education, but we’re also aware of the skyrocketing cost of a college education. With inflation and all the other high costs of living today, it’s very hard for students to afford college,” Tressider says. “If you believe in the value of a degree from Arcadia, you want to help other people achieve it, too.”

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