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Release: Immediate

Des Moines couple gives $500,000 to UI gifted education program

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A $500,000 gift from a Des Moines couple with long-standing ties to the gifted education program at the University of Iowa will expand by 50 percent the number of outstanding junior high school students who take part in a college-level summer program at the UI.

The gift from Myron and Jacqueline Blank to the UI Foundation will provide scholarships to an additional 40 students each year in the Iowa Summer Institute for the Arts and Sciences (ISI), increasing the number of "Blank Scholars" from 80 students to 120 students each year.

The Iowa Summer Institute, conducted by the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development of the UI College of Education, features five, intensive core courses in science, mathematics, writing, the arts, and invention designed to expose seventh- and eighth-graders to the type of coursework undertaken by college students.

All students who complete the program will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to the UI if they enroll in the UI when they are eligible as first-year university students.

The 1998 ISI was held June 14-26.

Nicholas Colangelo, director of the Belin-Blank Center, said the Blanks' name has become synonymous with gifted education in Iowa.

"Myron and Jacqueline Blank have been tremendously generous and visionary in their support of gifted students in Iowa," Colangelo said. "The Blank Scholars program not only helps identify academic and artistic talent at the critical early teen years, but provides encouragement and incentive to continue to develop that talent. The promise of a scholarship to the University of Iowa is a recognition of the achievement of these students and an investment in their future."

Myron Blank, president of Central States Theatre Corp., and Jacqueline Blank have supported gifted education at the UI since 1980 when the current program was established. In 1988 they contributed $1 million to the UI Foundation to create the Myron and Jacqueline Blank Chair of Gifted Education, a professorship now held by Colangelo. In 1994 they contributed $725,000 to create the Myron and Jacqueline Blank Scholarships for Gifted Students Fund.

In recognition of their contributions, the center was renamed in 1996 as the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.

"We're very proud of the center and what these outstanding students have accomplished as a result of its programs," said Jacqueline Blank. "It's been a great satisfaction to watch the students and to share their enthusiasm for learning and for education."

Mary Sue Coleman, UI president, said, "The Blanks' continuing support for gifted education at the University of Iowa is a vivid example of the positive impact Iowans can have on education and on their university. The Blank Scholars will make an enormous difference in the intellectual life of the University of Iowa and will make a great difference in the world at-large in the very near future."

ISI is open to all Iowa junior high and middle school students in public schools and approved private schools.

Schools may nominate only one student to attend ISI in each of the five academic areas. A committee of UI faculty and Iowa educators selects students for the program.

Established in 1988, the Belin-Blank Center specializes in programming and research to meet the educational needs of exceptionally talented children and their teachers. The Center conducts an extensive roster of talent searches, precollege programs, teacher training workshops, conferences, symposia, and counseling programs.

More than 700 students annually participate in the Belin-Blank Center's summer programs. More than 10,000 elementary, junior high and high school teachers have participated in center programs since 1988.

For more information, contact the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the UI College of Education, (319) 335-6148.

The University of Iowa Foundation is the preferred channel of support for private contributions to all areas of the University of Iowa. Foundation staff work with alumni and friends to provide resources for professorships, scholarships, building renovations, equipment, technology, and other forms of support for the UI.