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Voices of Philanthropy: Anthony Lehnertz

BY GUEST OPINION | OCTOBER 15, 2014 5:00 AM

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Two years ago, while sitting with my On Iowa group of finance and accounting majors — all of us confident that we were destined for Wall Street — I would never have guessed that “Phil” would affect my life as it has. Now it seems as though philanthropy is deeply embedded into my college career — and it all began with my involvement in the University of Iowa Foundation’s Student Philanthropy Group.

I am so grateful for the opportunities the group has granted me during my time at the University of Iowa. It is a team of dedicated students who strive to raise awareness of philanthropy among other students on campus, and we also serve as student ambassadors at UI Foundation events. It is truly a unique privilege to interact, on a regular basis, with current students, UI faculty, and staff, and generous alumni and friends on behalf of the foundation.

Very few UI freshmen arrive on campus with an understanding of the effect that philanthropy has on their education. It is our role, along with UI faculty and staff, to help these students understand the importance of generous private support. That’s why, each spring, we host Phil’s Day, a day-long, campus-wide celebration of philanthropy. On Phil’s Day, we tag locations and buildings all over campus with signs, banners, and posters to remind everyone at Iowa that private support helps fund buildings, programs, scholarships, and so much more. I am proud of the increase in awareness of philanthropy on campus that Student Philanthropy Group has been able to achieve since the inauguration of this annual celebration in 2011.

We have Phil’s Day in the spring to CELEBRATE philanthropy on campus — and in the fall, we now have We Are Phil, which actually CREATES philanthropy on the UI campus by encouraging faculty and staff to become annual donors.

I am excited to see the effect the annual We Are Phil effort will have in continuing to advance the culture of philanthropy on campus and in the Iowa City area. In the program’s first year, more than 3,000 UI faculty and staff members made donations to support the UI through annual gifts. That’s an impressive level of support that UI students can appreciate — and it sets a great example for current and future students who can become donors themselves after graduation.

Today more than ever, philanthropy appears to be thriving and improving all aspects of our great university. The inspiring generosity of our alumni and friends makes so many important things possible at this university, including student scholarships and the construction of numerous cutting-edge buildings. I am so appreciative for the outstanding experiences “Phil” has given me, and I am eager to see all that this university will be able to achieve as Phil’s effect continues to grow.

Anthony Lehnertz
president, UI Foundation Student Philanthropy Group
Class of 2016, majoring in finance and Spanish


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