Phil's Day 2013: Philanthropy helps students reach goals

BY GUEST COLUMN | APRIL 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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I have fond memories of my time at the University of Iowa, from classes with outstanding professors to Saturdays at Kinnick. I know that often, in the hustle and bustle of studying late and stressing about finals, it’s difficult to fully appreciate the college experience. It may be only years later, upon reflection, that such appreciation surfaces. Such was the case for me.

I grew up in small-town Iowa, and attending the UI was one of the most important decisions of my early life. Unquestionably, college was the bridge between my dreams and a successful and enjoyable career. I needed scholarships, grants, and loans to cross that bridge, and I received them.

However, while the first half of my life was substantially about getting, the second half is about giving. I have a deep affection for the state and this university, and I want others to benefit as I did. Perhaps current students will look back and do the same — creating a virtuous circle.  

I cherish my involvement serving on the board of the University of Iowa Foundation, as well as on its Investment Committee. But I am most proud of the faculty, staff, and students who have influenced the success of two programs that my wife, Donna, and I have underwritten:  the Iowa Edge and the UI Fundraising and Philanthropic Communications program.  

The Iowa Edge started as a UI orientation program for students of color, as well as for first-generation students, to aid the introduction to college. When the program began seven years ago, retention rates for such students were unacceptably low. Now, retention is above that for the university as a whole, and the program’s dedicated board continues to explore ways to expand the program. Diversity is good for everyone.

Philanthropic Studies is relatively new to the university, rolling out last year as a certificate program. Simply put, this program prepares students for key roles in charitable organizations and/or prepares them for a life with a focus on philanthropy. This is a young program with a great future that I hope will establish the University of Iowa as “The Giving University.”  

I was lucky. Donors and programs provided me with the bridge I needed to achieve my goals. I am a dreamer, and I have met many students at Iowa who are of the same ilk. I hope that they will be the ones building these bridges in the future.

Kevin Gruneich, B.B.A.
1980 UI alumnus

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