UI's second Phil's Day honors donors

BY LAUREN COFFEY | MAY 03, 2013 5:00 AM

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Officials from the University of Iowa came together under the glow of a chandelier in the Old Capitol Museum Thursday to discuss efforts made in philanthropy at the UI and to observe the second annual Phil’s Day.

Phil’s Day is an event that celebrates UI donors and is coordinated with the UI Foundation.

Janice Ellig, the speaker for the 2013 Phil’s Day, spoke to a crowded room filled with business students, alumni, and UI officials on Thursday afternoon.

“Nobody makes it on his or her own,” said Ellig, a New York native. “It’s not about the money, it’s not about writing a check — it’s about helping others. How many of you are here because someone else helped you?”

Ellig, who is co-CEO of Chadick Ellig, was named by Business Week as one of the “World’s Most Influential Headhunters.” She searches for individuals for various companies that could work as C-suite executives and other areas of leadership. She went to the UI in the 1960s and received her degree in business.

Phil’s Day featured a variety of events, including decorating the UI campus to show students what buildings were made possible with donations.

“Phil’s Day is definitely really hard to miss,” UI President Sally Mason said. “When my husband woke up this morning to get a cup of coffee, he asked why students were hanging up yellow ribbons and signs in our yard. It really is remarkable.”

In fiscal 2012, the UI Foundation and the UI received $203.4 million. In fiscal 2011, the foundation received $213.9 million.  The UI Foundation has received $2.5 billion since its start in 1956.

Students from the UI Foundation Student Philanthropy group were involved in Phil’s Day, asking students to sign postcards with some information that will be sent to UI donors. UI senior Grace Polzin, outgoing vice president of marketing and membership for the Student Philanthropy group, said that while it may be difficult to comprehend the effect the donations have on the UI, students should still make an effort to show their appreciation.

“I think [students] are starting to [understand the importance of philanthropy],” Polzin said. “I think things like [Phil’s Day] are good to help spread the word. [Philanthropy] is extremely important — it’s such a huge part of the UI. We wouldn’t be here without philanthropy.”

David Triplett, vice president of development and resources and campaign director for the UI Foundation, said despite the tougher economic times and a possible freeze in tuition that would no longer increase in-state students’ tuition, donors will continue to give their support to the UI.

“I think there is a growing feeling that people need to provide private support to our university,” Triplett said. “People give because they believe in the cause, and maybe I’m being facetious, but I think there is a belief in the mission and people’s willingness to give back.”

Ellig said everyone is able to give back, even students who arguably do not have many funds to spend.

“It doesn’t take a lot of money,” she said. “Everyone can afford $100 and buy three fewer lipsticks. There’s no excuse for not giving back.”

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