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Tippie helps UI fête Phil's Day

BY ALEKSANDRA VUJICIC | MAY 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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Henry B. Tippie stood at a podium in the IMU ballroom with a single $5 bill in his hands.

The room was overflowing with students, many having to stand to hear Tippie speak about the importance of giving back to the university or the foundation.

Five dollars is the exact amount of money Tippie first donated to the university. And he said every student could afford to do that over the course of a year.

He explained this as his “bread crumb theory.”

“In business, a lot of times, you look in terms of your expenses, and some people want to look at just the big item,” Tippie said after his speech. “I’m saying that’s the last thing to look at. We need to look for the crumbs, because the crumbs add up.”

Tippie, the eponym of the Tippie College of Business, visited campus for the University of Iowa’s third-annual Phil’s Day, a celebration of philanthropy and the many alumni who have left their mark on the university with donations and contributions.

The University of Iowa Foundation Board of Directors member Bob Verhille said many of the university’s best donors, such as Tippie, started with $5 or $10 donations.

“He didn’t talk about how he earned his millions, but he did talk about giving away all those millions to something that’s touched his heart and has meant so much to him,” Verhille said. 

A native of Belle Plaine, Iowa, Tippie received his degree in accounting from the UI in 1949. The 87-year-old credits the GI bill, which provided a range of benefits for World War II veterans, with allowing him to receive an education at Iowa.

The GI bill allowed him to accomplish things he said he hadn’t dreamed about, and he then made it his goal to give back.

“I tried to make a repayment for benefits I received, and I tried to help assist others to get a foundation and a background that they could build on, particularly those in need,” he said.

Tippie said his contributions to the business school have provided roughly 22 people with professorships or research grants, 48 different scholarships, the Tippie auditorium, Pat’s Diner — named after his wife — and he was involved with the new football facility.

Many of the scholarships Tippie funds are need-based.

“There’s an awful lot of people out there who don’t get the opportunity to go to a college or university, and they don’t get any scholarships and can’t afford it with their circumstances,” he  said.

UI sophomore Maddie Shepard patiently waited in a line of students in order to speak with Tippie after his speech. Shepard, who has received scholarships from the business school, said his speech made her realize the value behind donating to the university. 

“It definitely did give me some ideas for the future and how I could possibly affect somebody’s life, just like I’ve been helped by scholarships,” she said.

Tippie said the university deserves something in return for providing students a basis for their future.

“[Students] should not forget where they got their foundation, and hopefully, they’ll think about that someday, and maybe they’ll be able to give back to the university in appreciation of the foundation that they received,” Tippie said.

President Sally Mason said she was “awestruck” when she looked out into the audience. She said she was certain there were several future Henry Tippies sitting in the audience.

Mason said she hopes students realize there is something way beyond the college experience, but she hopes they remember where it all began.

“We obviously hope that students leave here having had a great experience, and they have the same kinds of feelings for the institution that Henry has,” Mason said.


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