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Do well by doing good

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

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While I had the benefit of growing up in a family in which charitable giving was part of my early life's experience, I still vividly remember a moment — from the spring of my senior year at the University of Iowa College of Law — that challenged me to do as much of my own charitable giving as possible.

Shortly before I graduated, a young and popular professor in the college called a meeting of our senior class to tell us about the Iowa Law School Foundation and the importance of private support for public higher education. This particular professor was someone for whom I had very high regard, so I gave him a check for $10 — a significant sum back then.

The year was 1963. The professor was Willard L. "Sandy" Boyd, who later would become the UI's provost — and eventually its two-time president. Although his message didn't resonate with all the members of our class, it certainly made an impression on many of us. In fact, just last week, I sent a contribution to the University of Iowa Foundation that, sadly, was in memory of one of the students who attended that meeting and had "answered the call" every year since 1963, as I have done.

I certainly have derived great personal satisfaction in observing the UI's growing stature throughout the past half century, and I have enjoyed hearing about how lives have been changed by this great university's educational offerings. However, I also have received a much more tangible benefit from having received two UI degrees. Thanks to the UI's growing reputation — and its commitment to building upon an already solid foundation — my degrees have similarly grown in value during the years since I received them.

Private support from motivated alumni and friends has played a key role in that enhancement.

Providing financial support for the UI truly does provide all alumni and students with an opportunity to "do well by doing good."

Obviously, some have the resources to respond with larger donations than others, but that doesn't necessarily make those large donors more generous. Gifts of all sizes are extremely important in these days of immense challenges in the funding of public higher education — and having support from large numbers of students, alumni, and friends sends a very positive message to policymakers and the public at large.

One final comment: Please take my word, based on 50 years of experience, that it feels good to "do good." I will look forward to you joining tens of thousands of dedicated UI supporters in this worthy endeavor.

Robert Downer
member of the state Board of Regents


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