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Alumni National Awards



KastenCraig R. Kasten, Bus Ad ’75
Mequon, Wis.

When his first venture achieved some “nice success,” entrepreneur Craig Kasten was excited. Finally, he could become a financial supporter of Marquette University Men’s Basketball. It was one among many of his service and philanthropic endeavors, making a positive impact locally and globally. “For me,” he says, “living the Marquette mission means finding a way to say, ‘Yes, I can help with that.’”

Craig’s love of Marquette basketball took hold as a boy, when he would follow games on his radio from his home in West Allis, Wisconsin. Eventually, his parents chose to send Craig here -- the first in his family to go to college. They had lived without a car for a time and presented him with a familiar bus pass and route map, he says, “so I could figure out how to get to campus.”

Craig says his parents could pay scarcely more than a year’s tuition, so he took a night clerk job at a downtown Ramada Inn. He applied an “entrepreneurial mindset” of using available resources wisely, using the hotel’s electric typewriter to write papers during his shifts.

Meanwhile, Marquette Men’s Basketball was enjoying a heyday. “It was right in the middle of their greatest era ever,” Craig says, “and I was there!” He’s been there for the team ever since, throughout a successful career starting and growing several businesses, including the one he runs today: SKYGEN USA, a health benefits technology innovator. He and his wife, Wendy, have supported countless student-athletes through the Blue & Gold Scholarship Fund, and Craig was a lead donor for the Al McGuire Center, which includes a practice gym bearing his name.

Craig realized a long-held goal as a philanthropist when he founded the SKYGEN International Foundation in 2017. Inspired by a family trip to Tanzania where he witnessed extreme poverty and lack of access to health care, he sought a way to involve the foundation. Partnering with a Tanzanian church and global eyeglasses manufacturer and distributor Essilor, the foundation built a program to bring cost-effective vision care to thousands of citizens, leveraging emerging technology. The operation employs Tanzanian optometrists and provides all equipment needed to run mobile diagnostic clinics at schools and in other settings and to assemble glasses on the spot. To date, 167,000 people have been screened and 31,100 pairs of free glasses provided -- and those numbers continue to grow each day.

Craig and Wendy’s generosity also visibly impacts the Milwaukee community, including the urban recreational opportunities they helped create in partnership with the Journey House, which works to move families out of poverty. It can be seen in the faces of local grade school students after a visit from Marquette basketball legend Bo Ellis, arranged by Craig. Bo Ellis shares information about the importance of maintaining oral health and gifts each student a Marquette-branded winter hat. Among other endeavors, the Kastens are also the lead sponsors for the Nicole Ellis Scholarship Fund Golf Outing, and they support the United Healthcare Children’s Fund.

“I am very grateful, honored and proud,” Craig says of receiving the All-university service Award. “Recognizing an individual for service is really a celebration of service by all alumni.”

Fun Facts:

One of Craig’s favorite experiences with Marquette basketball was the Final Four trip to New Orleans in 2002, the same year of the groundbreaking ceremony for the Al McGuire Center.

Craig sponsored the 2009 induction of Marquette basketball alumnus Dwyane Wade into the M Club Hall of Fame.

Craig and Wendy are ballroom dancers and have taken lessons for a number of years, even competing.

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