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IOWA CITY - The couple said they did it in honor of their two boys, both of whom were born at the UI Hospitals and Clinics. They did it for children being treated there today. And they did it for researchers seeking cures for future generations.
But, Jerre Stead told The Gazette, they didn't do it for the glory. Although they're about to get some.
The Board of Regents on Wednesday - without debate - agreed to name the new $360 million state-of-the-art Children's Hospital after the Stead family. Jean Robillard, vice president for medical affairs with UI Health Care, said the new name - the Stead Family University of Iowa Children's Hospital - officially will take effect next November with the dedication of the new building.
'They have been great, great supporters for the Children's programs over the years,” Robillard told The Gazette. 'We thought that they were representing what the people of Iowa are in many respects.”
The 14-floor hospital, which crews began constructing in 2012 at the center of the UI Hospitals campus and now overlooks Kinnick Stadium as the tallest building in Iowa City, is on track to begin treating patients in December 2016, Robillard said.
Jerre and Mary Joy Stead, both natives of Maquoketa who went to UI, began giving to the university more than 30 years ago. Their cumulative support totals $53.9 million, including the $25 million gift to children's medicine that the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in 2013 honored in the naming of its Stead Family Department of Pediatrics.
The couple also has committed $25 million to the UI Henry B. Tippie College of Business. But, when Robillard presented them with the idea of naming the massive new Children's Hospital in their honor, Jerre Stead said he wasn't sure.
Another major UI philanthropist - John Pappajohn - had to chime in, Stead said.
'Normally, we don't do the naming thing,” he said. 'But that's the greatest thing we could do to say thanks to the University of Iowa.”
Stead, who graduated from UI in 1965, said he and his wife have given a lot over the years and been honored in various ways.
'But, of all the things we have been blessed with over the years … this was the greatest honor we have ever received,” Stead said. 'This far exceeds anything we ever expected.”
Stead said his children and grandchildren are planning to come to next year's dedication, and they've asked what this means to the couple.
'It's the best thing that's ever happened in our lives,” Stead said.
Mary Joy Stead has served on the UI Foundation's board of directors since 1999 and been active on its development committee. Jerre Stead has served on many boards, including the UI Henry B. Tippie College of Business board of visitors.
He was part of the 21-member committee charged with searching for a new UI president, and Bruce Harreld - who was chosen for the job - said Stead was instrumental early on in recruiting him to apply for the job. Some UI community members critical of Harreld's hire have questioned Stead's influence in the hiring.
The Steads both serve as campaign co-chairs for UI Health Care in the UI Foundation's 'For Iowa. Forever More” $1.7 billion fundraising campaign.
'I think the University of Iowa is a great institution unto its own, and we're proud to be part of it and active in it,” Stead said. 'The University of Iowa hospital and research organization and medical school is the best in the world, and we have felt for years that it was a great way to help make a big difference for thousands and thousands of people.”