UI gets $7 million anonymous donation

BY CHRIS CLARK | APRIL 16, 2009 7:34 AM

In her 25 years of fundraising, UI Foundation President and CEO Lynette Marshall said she has never seen a donation like the one she received last month.

An anonymous donor gave $7 million to the UI.

UI spokesman Steve Parrott said $5 million of the donation is designated for scholarships for women and minorities. The rest of the money would be allocated based on priorities, he said.

Marshall said the only interaction the UI had when receiving the donation was with the bank handling the finances. Notice of the donation came in a letter.

“We had to agree to not make any attempt to discover who the donor was,” said Marshall, and officials couldn’t accept the check until making the agreement. “It was a wonderful surprise.”

Marshall said she was unsure of exactly why the donor wanted to stay anonymous. She said she guessed he or she was “purely philanthropic.”

“[The donor] probably didn’t want to have to deal with all the publicity that would surround giving a gift of such magnitude,” she said.

The money will have the biggest effect for students, because scholarships will continue to generate money forever, she said.

“To think about the long-term, perpetual benefit the money will have — it’s remarkable,” she said.

The UI Foundation started in 1956, and it brings in private support for the university, given the UI receives about “13.5 percent of its funding from state appropriations,” according to the foundation’s website.

In other recent significant donations, two Iowa natives made commitments of $5 million each last November to support the Hawkeye football program.

In 2008, the foundation reported receiving more than $90 million in outright gifts and more than $60 million in future commitments, according to its website.

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