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Sharing Iowa's goodwill

BY GUEST COLUMN | APRIL 24, 2012 6:30 AM

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Today is Phil's Day at the University of Iowa, a day when we celebrate the generosity that makes the UI such an excellent institution. In many ways, our university's entire mission is about giving — it's about professors sharing their knowledge with students, students sharing their talents with our communities, and the entire university community sharing its teaching, discovery, and service with our society.

That sharing mission couldn't happen without another important kind of sharing — philanthropy, the "Phil" in Phil's Day. Among the most important resources that make our excellence possible are the generous contributions of our alumni, friends, and members of the UI community.

As a student, you benefit from this philanthropy every day. If you have a scholarship that has made it possible for you to attend school here, there's a good chance a private donor helped fund it — or funded it entirely. When you learn in our classrooms, libraries, and buildings with the latest technology and resources, much of it has been made possible through donations. When you are conducting research with one of our world-renowned professors in a laboratory or studio, there's a good chance that revolutionary space and equipment, that named professorship your mentor holds, and the professional staff joining you on that research are all there thanks to generous donors who want to provide you — and the world — with the best in learning and discovery.

One of the most important — and rewarding — parts of my job as president of the UI is building relationships with our alumni, friends, and donors. When I meet with these wonderful supporters, I realize how passionate they are about the UI. Philanthropy is certainly about raising funds, but it's also about sharing a vision. It's my task — and my privilege — to help the university and those who so enthusiastically support us come together to make our mutual dreams and aspirations a reality.

As students, you are an important part of our giving and sharing, and Phil's Day is all about your role in it. You are all beneficiaries of philanthropy, so it's a day for raising awareness and expressing gratitude. Thousands of you are philanthropists already — if you've participated in Dance Marathon, engaged in a student organization philanthropic activity, or just bought a brownie at a bake sale in your college or department, you're part of the private support that makes us great. And you will be alumni someday — hopefully soon. We hope that Phil's Day will help you think about ways you might continue supporting the UI after you graduate.

Whether we're talking about today or tomorrow, it's not the size of the gift that's important but the fact that you've cared and you've shared. The Greek origin of the word "philanthropy" means goodwill to other people. I encourage everyone to participate in Phil's Day activities to honor the goodwill that others have shown us at the UI and to learn about how to share your own goodwill now and in the future.

Sally Mason
UI president


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