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Voices of Philanthropy: Jan Jensen

BY GUEST OPINION | OCTOBER 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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I’ve often been asked by friends inside and outside of our great university why I choose to give to the We Are Phil campaign. I am “Phil” because I believe in giving back to an institution that gives so much to so many. From the first moment I became an employee at the University of Iowa, I was not only given an incredible opportunity to be a part of one of the nation’s best universities, I also was entrusted with the awesome responsibility to help make it even better. In my opinion, the first step in helping to make anything better is to give of yourself — devoting your full effort and commitment.  When people are truly committed to making their part of the world better, they are invested emotionally, physically, and, when possible, financially.  

As the associate head coach of the Iowa women’s basketball team, I spend a lot of my working hours recruiting stellar student-athletes. When I visit with these young women and their families, I am always so proud to share the many incredible aspects of the University of Iowa in the academic, athletic, and social realms. And I know that Phil — private support for the university from its many alumni and friends including employees such as me — contributes immensely to our incredible success in all of those realms.

I have been fortunate to meet many donors who have supported the UI and its students, and I’ve learned that there are so many people outside of the university who believe in all of us who work at Iowa. I am a part of the We are Phil campaign because I want all of the people who support and believe in us from “the outside” to know that, as a person on “the inside,” I also believe in us. 

I believe in us because the basketball team that I help coach is currently ranked No. 12 in the ESPN Early Preseason Poll. The young women who have earned that ranking practice and compete in a first-rate facility while pursuing degrees in areas such as pre-med, law, and education. I believe in us because the UI is consistently ranked among the nation’s top-30 public universities, with 22 of 25 graduate programs ranking among the top 25.

My devotion to the UI goes far beyond the work I do. My daughter was born with a congenital heart condition and needed two open-heart surgeries before she was a month old. Thanks to the phenomenal care and expertise of the UI Children’s Hospital staff, she is a healthy, thriving 3-year-old. 

Becoming an elite university doesn’t happen by accident or luck. It takes personal investment … emotionally, physically, and financially. I am proud to give back to the UI, and I hope that others will join me. No matter what amount each of us is able to give, our participation shows people, inside and outside the university, that we are fully invested in making the university even better. I am grateful to say that I am Phil.

Jan Jensen
associate head coach
Iowa women’s basketball
14 years employed at the University of Iowa


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