Higher education

University of Iowa announces end to state's most lucrative fundraising campaign

President Harreld: $2 billion total can't save us from state cuts

University of Iowa president Bruce Harreld speaks during the Opening Celebration for Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Friday, September 9, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
University of Iowa president Bruce Harreld speaks during the Opening Celebration for Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Friday, September 9, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Thanks to 272,543 donors representing 76 countries and all 50 states, University of Iowa officials Monday announced the official end to an eight-year fundraising campaign that amassed nearly $2 billion — 16 percent over the $1.7 billion goal, making it the state’s largest-ever.

But even as university leaders celebrated the $1.975 billion achievement that included support for scholarships, faculty chairs and professorships, research and academic programming, facilities, and athletics, they stressed the gifts came with specific designations.

That means, according to UI President Bruce Harreld, the university can’t simply pull from its philanthropic pool of riches to make up for, say, the $8 million in state allocations lawmakers last week agreed to take back from the university in the current budget year — which is more than half over.

“I watch some of the, what I would call, cavalier statements that people are making about, well we have a big foundation,” Harreld said. “People, I think, maybe conveniently forget or just don’t know that when people give us money, it’s usually for very specific things.”

At an event Monday marking the fundraising campaign’s end, Harreld expressed particular concern about “people who may be passing legislation” — like the bill signed last week to de-appropriate $18 million from Board of Regents institutions this year as part of $117.8 million in total reductions in the face of a budget shortfall.

Harreld has stressed the need for more state support, not less, and said campus heads presently are scrambling to cut the now-vanishing millions they were promised by lawmakers for this year. One area that will take a hit, according to Harreld, is student financial aid.

And, he said, the university can’t simply pull from its foundation to plug the holes.

“I want to make sure that, first of all, our donors understand when they make commitments and they want money to go to our Children’s Hospital or to the Writers’ Workshop or to scholarships, that’s exactly what we will do,” Harreld said. “But then secondly to remind all of those that think we have deep pockets that yes, we are very fortunate, amazing campaign, but that money is committed, and we have to follow those requests.”

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That’s why — despite the billions raised these past eight years to support faculty, students, and some of the state’s biggest construction projects like the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, Hancher Auditorium, and the Voxman Music and Visual Arts buildings — Harreld on Monday said UI likely will be notifying some students the financial aid they expected won’t be coming after all.

“We include in our existing letters that have gone out in the last year that if, in fact, the state support or budgetary issues change, we might have to reconsider your individual support,” Harreld said, noting UI staffers are in the process of assessing potential changes.

“No one has been notified,” he said, but added they will be “as soon as possible.”

“I think we need to let them know very quickly,” he said.

Looking forward, Harreld talked about the need to diversify the university’s funding portfolio in the face of continued drops in state support — suggesting, for example, developing new revenue streams by monetizing research. He’s discussed potential implications for tuition, but on Monday also stressed the importance of fundraising campaigns like the one that just wrapped.

“Strategically we need to find other sources to secure our future, and that’s the reason days like today are so important,” he said.

The concluded “For Iowa. Forever More” campaign drew major donations, including:

The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust committed more than $71 million throughout the campaign, including a $45 million gift to the Iowa Neuroscience Institute;

UI alumnus and philanthropist John Pappajohn and his wife Mary Pappajohn gave more than $32 million to the campaign, including $26.4 million for the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute and the John and Mary Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building; Stephen and Andrea Wynn, of Las Vegas, donated more than $25 million in support of the UI Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research; The Fraternal Order of Eagles gave more than $25 million in support of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center; And UI alumnus Jerre Stead and Mary Joy Stead gave more than $25 million during the campaign for children’s medicine, including the new Children’s Hospital.

Despite those massive gifts, however, more than half the contributors gave $100 or less, totaling $4.6 million.

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Of the 272,543 donors, about 57 percent — or 156,012 — came from Iowa. About 31 percent, or 85,348, were alumni. Of the nearly $2 billion raised, $553 million was earmarked for program and research support, $312 million was dedicated to supporting students, and $198 million was committed to faculty.

When looking at fundraising by college or program, UI Health Care brought in the most money at $834 million. The Henry B. Tippie College of Business amassed the second-highest total with $127 million.

And beyond buildings those dollars helped erect, students and faculty on Monday shared stories about how this campaign’s success translated to individual achievement.

Jose Diaz spoke during Monday’s celebration about his parents’ decision 35 years ago to migrate to the United States from an impoverished and rural community in Mexico. Raising six kids, Diaz said, they lived out their American dream.

“However, the day I mentioned going to college definitely startled them,” Diaz said. “College was never something my parents planned for their children. And it wasn’t because they didn’t think we were smart enough, but because financially the odds of being able to afford to send us off to school were slimmer than winning the lottery.”

Having secretly applied to his “dream schools,” including UI, Diaz said he recalls getting news he’d receive the financial support he needed to attend.

“It was during my lunch period, when I ran outside to the parking lot, called my mom and was on the verge of tears as I shared with her the news,” he said. “It is through philanthropy like ‘For Iowa. Forever More’ that allowed me the privilege that allowed me to attend this great institution.”

Today, Diaz is a top student in the UI Tippie College of Business; a member of the Hawkinson Institute, an investment banking program for finance majors; and last summer interned at the global services financial firm JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Harreld said that degree of excellence should be behind everything the university does, which is why this campaign — while over — is not the end.

“There are a number of areas of deep significant research moving forward, and we’re talking about launching a number of new undergraduate programs — they’re going to need some new funding,” he said. “So I would anticipate we’re going to launch another campaign. When and specifics and all the rest, we’re still working on it.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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