Feb. 23, 2023
Scott Brown ’98 says attending Culver Military Academy was “transformative” because it opened his eyes to so many possibilities. He gives back to the school regularly now, hoping it will provide others with those same transformative possibilities.
“For me it's really about thinking about where I'd be, or maybe not be, if I hadn't had the opportunity,” he said. “I made lifelong friends. I think I just would probably be at a different spot. Not to say I wouldn’t have been successful. But it sort of comes back to without folks who gave back because Culver was important to them, I would have never had the opportunity to go to Culver. It opened a lot of doors for me.”
Brown, a private equity investor who lives in suburban Chicago with his wife Anne, 9-year-old son Carrick, and 7-year-old daughter Katie, grew up in Columbus, Indiana, about 50 miles south of Indianapolis. His father, a former military man, owned a small business and his mother was a teacher.
Brown was an aspiring hockey player and some of the hockey coaches in Columbus as well as the Henderson family who lived there talked to him about Culver. His family couldn’t afford to send him to Culver, but he was offered financial aid.
He learned quickly that Culver had a lot of talented hockey players.
“It became apparent quickly that I wasn't going to be an NHL star, and I wasn't probably even going to be able to play hockey anywhere that I wanted to attend college. So a lot of the other things like the leadership and the academics became a lot more significant to my Culver experience in the three years I was there,” he said.
He said longtime Culver hockey coach Al Clark and others on the coaching staff made sure players knew that it wasn’t enough to only work at being good at hockey. They also had to work on their academics, on being strong leaders and good citizens.
Brown believes Culver’s mission of transforming the mind, spirit, and body is what separates it from other boarding schools.
“I do think that it comes back to the balance – mind, spirit, body. I think that’s why Culver is a special place. There’s an emphasis on developing well-rounded leaders and citizens and athletes,” he said. “That is something that still resonates with me quite a bit.”
Brown said he flourished at Culver because he liked being involved in the leadership program.
“I think that's sort of leveled the playing field for a lot of people. It doesn’t matter who your parents are. Everyone comes in at the same level. It's a merit-based system,” he said.
Brown said he not only made a lot of friends at Culver, his parents did as well. His roommate at Culver was David Haase ’99, whose father, Fred, taught Latin and economics at Culver, as well as coached golf.
“I got a second family out of it,” Brown said. “Fred Haase was not only my golf coach, but sort of a second dad, as well as a teacher.”
The families became close. So close, in fact, that when Fred Haase needed a kidney transplant in 2004 and no one in his family was a viable donor, Brown’s father, Steve, donated a kidney to him.
“So, there’s a lot of good things that have come out of my Culver experience, not just for myself but for my family and broader family. It truly has come full circle,” he said.
Brown said he faced the same situation after graduating from Culver. He wouldn’t have been able to afford to attend Colgate University without financial aid and the help of others.
“I think it's kind of general theme from for me, that if I can help make it happen for someone else, it's important,” he said.
Brown said sending children away to boarding school is difficult not only financially, but also emotionally because it’s a challenge living away from family. He said that’s why it’s important to have relationships with people like Haase, Clark, and Dan Davidge, another hockey coach who was his Company A counselor and became close with his parents.
“That’s what makes Culver a special place for a lot of people,” he said.
He said that’s why he gives consistently to Culver.
“I think a lot of people don't necessarily realize the value of Culver until they've left,” he said. “I think it just comes back to thinking about the impact that the school had on you and giving the opportunity to other people that want to take advantage of all what the school has to offer. To me, it kind of goes back to just paying it forward a bit.”