Guest Opinion: Gifts make the university great


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Each year, thousands of University of Iowa alumni and friends give back to Iowa, and their donations help make our university great.

As president and CEO of the UI Foundation, I have the privilege of helping connect UI donors with their passions. And when they make a gift, they’re doing so much more than just giving back — they’re also changing lives and, in some cases, saving them.

Take for instance, the visionary gifts from Jerre and Mary Joy Stead. The high-school sweethearts from Maquoketa, Iowa, married while they were undergraduates here. They had two boys who were born at UI Hospitals and Clinics. Their connection to Iowa — and to UI Health Care — has continued to grow throughout their years away from Iowa.

In 2003, the Steads made a $25 million commitment to support a variety of areas in the UI Tippie College of Business, of which Jerre is a graduate. Their generosity created the Stead Technology Center and the Kloppenburg-Stead speaker series, and it provides ongoing support for faculty and facilities.

Since 2011, Jerre and Mary Joy have committed $20 million to UI Children’s Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics in the UI Carver College of Medicine.  Their generosity supports faculty and staff leadership initiatives and funds innovative support services for patients and their families — truly a life-changing gift for generations of our patients and families.

To recognize the Steads’ transformational gifts to children’s medicine at Iowa, the Pediatrics Department has been renamed the UI Stead Family Department of Pediatrics.

That’s part of why I’m writing today. It’s important to recognize gifts — of all sizes — and the collective effect that all of our donors have on our beloved university. On Thursday, we’ll host our fourth-annual “Phil’s Day” on campus. Phil, short for philanthropy, is the nickname we at the UI Foundation have adopted to represent everyone who donates to Iowa, as well as all those who benefit from private giving.

We’ll host a variety of activities throughout the day, and I’m pleased that Jerre Stead has agreed to be our guest of honor for the day. Don’t miss his talk, “Life With Phil,” at 1:30 p.m. in the IMU Second-Floor Ballroom. You’ll hear more about his personal and professional journey and why he gives to Iowa. You can find more information about the day at PhilWasHere.org.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating all things Phil.

Lynette Marshall
President and CEO
UI Foundation

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