A Helping Hand

The Dan Scism Scholarship gets a ‘refresh’

It was in 2013 that Mike Small realized the Dan Scism Scholarship, the charitable arm of the Evansville Men’s City Golf Tournament — now known as the Romain Cadillac City Golf Tournament — could use a “refresh.”

“How do we raise more money to help these kids get a college education?” Small, owner of Corporate Design Inc. and the scholarship’s vice president, asked himself. The answer was in private donations.

Photo of Josh Scism, Griffin Scism, Reed Scism, and Mike Small provided. 

Proceeds from “The City” tournament help pay graduating high school seniors’ college tuition — a cost that keeps rising. Small went to tournament director Bob Walther and said, “Let me take this on and see if I can change it.” He gathered community businesses and leaders at a meeting and made his pitch.

“Our goal is really simple, to give a deserving kid a helping hand,” Small says.

A member of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame and longtime sports editor for the Evansville Courier, Scism founded the tournament in 1930 and won it himself in 1943 and 1944. He established the scholarship in 1966, which at the time awarded around $500 in tuition assistance. Scism died in 1982.

That funding helped 1968 recipient Larry Mackey graduate from the University of Evansville in 1973 and forge a career as a prosecutor, including on the U.S. Department of Justice team that successfully prosecuted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Mackey returned to Evansville from Indianapolis in 2013 to help Small reenergize the scholarship fund.

“Five hundred dollars launched Larry’s career,” Small says.

The scholarship is awarded to a male student based on academic achievement, character, and economic need. Sixty-five students — occasionally two in one year — have benefitted since the program began.

Golfing ability isn’t required, but applicants must compete in the city tournament. Awarded funds are distributed over the recipient’s four-year college career while they maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA with no disciplinary conduct. Small says most recipients graduate college and at least 50 percent earn a spot on their school’s Dean’s List.

Photo of Caleb Wassmer, 2019 scholarship recipient, provided.

Through efforts by Small, Mackey, and other supporters, by 2014, the scholarship was awarding $20,000 per recipient. Nearly 10 years later, it has grown to $45,000. Four hundred thousand dollars have been disbursed since the “refresh” began in 2013.

Small says at least 20 private donors consistently give $1,000. Old National Bank and Raben Tire also are steady contributors. This spring, Romain Cadillac — a longtime supporter — was announced as the tournament’s new title sponsor.

“It takes a little work and grinning, and people open up their wallets to help kids,” Small says. “There have been a lot of people who helped along the way to make this happen.”

Romain Cadillac City Golf Tournament
Aug. 5-13 at Fendrich Golf Course, Helfrich Golf Course, Rolling Hills Country Club, and Evansville Country Club

Dan Scism Scholarship Award Ceremony
Aug. 11 at Corporate Design Inc.

Champions Dinner
Aug. 13 at Evansville Country Club

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