'Phil' sustains the UI

BY NICK MOFFITT | MAY 01, 2015 5:00 AM

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When Jerre Stead wakes up, the first thing he asks himself is how he can make a difference.

Stead, the featured speaker at the University of Iowa Foundation’s Phil’s Day ceremony, told a crowd on Thursday of why waking up with this mindset towards philanthropy is important to him and wife Mary Joy Stead, and more importantly, to the UI.

Phil’s Day is a day organized by the UI Foundation to show the effect philanthropy has on campus by tagging buildings and programs that have been affected by private donations.

Stead said one important factor to philanthropy is picking things a person is passionate about.

“Pick two or three things that mean something to you. Give and keep at it,” he said.

Stead, a native of Maquoketa, Iowa, graduated from the UI in 1965. Since then, he has worked as the CEO for several companies, served on 34 corporate boards, and chaired 16 capital drives for nonprofit organizations.

“The wonderful thing about philanthropy is helping others, but the joy you get back, the ability to feel good about what you’ve been able to do to make a difference,” he said, speaking on why philanthropy is important to him.

Recently, the Steads committed $20 million to the UI Children’s Hospital and Department of Pediatrics. The department will now be named the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics.

Raphael Hirsch, the physician-in-chief of the department, said philanthropy, especially the Stead’s, has allowed the hospital to thrive.

“[Philanthropy’s] going to allow us to advance research for cures for childhood illnesses,” he said. “It allows us to recruit the brightest faculty and physicians to come here to Iowa to take care of children; it’s made a big difference.”

The Steads also donated $25 million to the Tippie College of Business in 2003, which helped create the Stead Technology Services Group, one of the biggest labs on campus.

Private donations to aid the educational side of the UI is part of what makes the university experience so great for students, UI senior Patrick Bartoski said.

He said private donations are part of what keeps affordability a possibility for students.

“It really provides students this high quality, unparalleled experience in these buildings,” Bartoski said.

Moving forward with philanthropy and obtaining a president as strong as soon-to-retire UI President Sally Mason at fundraising is something Stead said is an important next step for the UI Foundation.

“It’s very critical, that’s the fact of the university, that person needs to be able to exemplify, represent and explain all the great things that are going on here and what will happen in the future,” he said.

The advancement in research and curing diseases is one reason Stead said he changes the conversation of philanthropy from a donation, to an investment. He said the returns from philanthropy create a feedback loop.

“The more we give, the more we get,” he said. “And the more we get, the more we give.”

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