Couple 'floored' by UI renaming of Department of Pediatrics

Jerre and Mary Joy Stead gave two $10 million donations to advance children's medicine

The University of Iowa's Chidlren's Hospital is seen from Melrose Avenue in this artist's rendition. (University of Iowa
The University of Iowa's Chidlren's Hospital is seen from Melrose Avenue in this artist's rendition. (University of Iowa)

After marrying at age 18 and 19 and enrolling at the University of Iowa in the early 1960s, Jerre and Mary Joy Stead had their first and then second sons before graduating college.

The boys were healthy but made their fair share of visits to the UI Hospitals and Clinics for the typical childhood ailments – raisins in the nose, injuries and high fevers.

“My oldest son was full of mischief,” Jerre Stead, 70, said. “We had him over there every other week.”

The doctors and nurses were always superb, Stead said, and the couple never forgot it.

They recently made two $10 million donations to advance children’s medicine at the UIHC – the most recent of which will, among other things, create four new faculty chairs in the Department of Pediatrics in the areas of pulmonology, nephrology, neurology and general pediatrics.

The couple’s first $10 million gift, made in 2011 to the UI Children’s Hospital and Department of Pediatrics, created endowed faculty positions, supported research and staff excellence initiatives and funded support services for patients and their families.

In recognition of their $20 million donation to the UIHC, the Iowa Board of Regents on Thursday approved renaming the department the UI Stead Family Department of Pediatrics.

“We are floored – it’s an incredible honor,” Stead said, adding that he and his wife had no idea the department would be renamed until two weeks ago. “It was the biggest surprise we have ever had.”

Stead said they are thrilled to be associated with a facility that is advancing medicine and making big improvements to its pediatric facilities in the form of a new children’s hospital.

“We don’t give money just to give,” he said. “We invest.”

After leaving Iowa, the Steads went on to travel the globe – Jerre Stead has led seven high-tech and information companies including the one he currently heads, HIS Inc., a worldwide provider of critical information, insight and analytics.

“But our home base is still Iowa City as much as anywhere,” said Stead, who lives with his wife in Englewood, Colo.

Mary Joy Stead has served on the UI Foundation’s board of directors since 1999, and Jerre Stead – among the many boards, corporations and nonprofit organizations he’s served – spent time on the UI Henry B. Tippie College of Business Board of Visitors.

In 2003, the couple gave $25 million to the Tippie College of Business to support numerous programs and initiatives, including the Stead Technology Services Group, one of the largest computer labs on the UI campus.

In a news release, Mary Joy Stead said she and her husband “believe in the power of children’s medicine at Iowa.”

“This new commitment is an extension of that belief,” she said.

Stead, who still heads HIS, also chairs the Alzheimer’s Research Institute in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Garrett-Evangelical Seminary at Northwestern University. He is on the Salk Institute Board of Directors and recently was appointed by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to oversee that state’s flood recovery efforts. He agreed to do the work pro bono.

“That is not something you ever say no to,” he said. 

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