Phil's Day 2013: Mason: Students an important part of UI philanthropy

BY GUEST COLUMN | MAY 02, 2013 5:00 AM

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One of my favorite days last year was the first Phil’s Day — attending UI alumnus Gary Seaman’s inspiring talk on the importance of philanthropy in his life, chatting with students signing postcards to donors, and sharing lunch and dinner with enthusiastic Dance Marathon executive officers and members of the UI Foundation’s Student Philanthropy Group. We had so much fun that we’re doing it again. I encourage everyone to participate in Phil’s Day 2013 today — a day to celebrate and thank those who have helped make your UI experience remarkable and to reflect on the importance of philanthropy in your own life.      

As a student, you benefit from philanthropy every day. When you learn in classrooms and libraries with the latest technology, much of it has been made possible through donations. When you conduct research with one of our world-renowned professors, there’s a good chance that lab and that named professorship your mentor holds have been made possible by generous contributors. If you have a scholarship, a private donor probably funded it. And when you’re cheering the Hawkeyes, you’re in the midst of excitement made possible by generous contributors who are also fellow fans.

One of the most important — and rewarding — parts of my job as president is building relationships with our alumni, friends, and donors, who always inspire me with their passion for the University of Iowa. Yes, philanthropy is 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 make our mutual dreams and aspirations a reality.

As students, you are an important part of UI philanthropy, and that’s what Phil’s Day is all about. So on May 2, stop by Kautz Plaza or the Medical Education & Research Facility from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and sign a postcard to a donor. Attend this year’s “Life with Phil” talk at 1:30 p.m. in the Old Capitol and hear UI alumna Janice Ellig, a co-CEO of global executive search firm Chadick Ellig and a generous UI supporter. And don’t forget to proudly wear your “I Am Phil” sticker all day.

President John F. Kennedy once said, “Philanthropy, charity, giving voluntarily and freely … call it what you like, but it is truly a jewel of an American tradition.” I hope you take part in our own tradition of Phil’s Day and celebrate your — and our — jewels of generosity.

Sally Mason, president, the University of Iowa

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