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Release: Immediate

UI Alumni Association and College of Liberal Arts announce new endowed dean's chair

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A gift from the University of Iowa Alumni Association will create a new endowed dean's chair in the UI College of Liberal Arts. The endowment, managed by the University of Iowa Foundation, will provide funds for the dean to use for special projects within the college.

In a new arrangement for the UI, this endowment rests with the dean's position rather than with a specific person hired to fill the chair, as is traditionally the case with endowed chairs within university departments. Linda Maxson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said this arrangement ensures that the college will benefit from the gift no matter who is serving in the dean's position in the years to come. It also ensures that the Alumni Association gift will remain within the college through the years, providing valuable programs for all college faculty and the UI undergraduates who take classes in the college.

"It's a very exciting gift that opens up many new opportunities for the college," Maxson said.

Plans for the new endowed chair have been in the works since 1987 when the Alumni Association board of directors pledged to create the liberal arts endowment as part of the university's Iowa Endowment 2000 Campaign, which was conducted by the UI Foundation.

Jon Whitmore, UI provost, said the Alumni Association endowment for liberal arts is the first step toward establishing dean's chairs throughout the university. "I am delighted with this generous gift from the Alumni Association," he said. "Their generosity will start off the university's campaign to endow each of the collegiate dean's positions at the UI. This way, the deans will have a set of discretionary funds to help fund worthy projects in their colleges and to help support their own research and related travel."

Maxson said her initial plans for the new endowment include creating an Alumni Fellows program, which would bring selected alumni back to the college each semester for two or three days and designating selected mid-career faculty members as Dean's Scholars, to recognize excellence both in teaching and in scholarship.

Maxson said that the Alumni Fellows program would honor alumni who had achieved success and distinction in their careers. The invitation to campus to speak to classes about their experiences and to receive a college medal would be the highest honor the college would bestow on alumni. The Dean's Scholars program would reward faculty excellence with a two-year grant that faculty members could use at their discretion to enhance their teaching or scholarship.

Projects to be funded through the endowment are not limited to these two initiatives. "We will add new programs for the benefit of the college as needs and opportunities arise," Maxson said. "The Alumni Association endowment will give us the boost we need to start these new projects. It is a way for alumni to give something back to the college and it will allow the college to recognize the success of our alumni as well as excellence and achievement among our faculty who serve nearly every undergraduate who comes to the University of Iowa."

The College of Liberal Arts is the largest UI college, awarding about 68 percent of the university's undergraduate degrees. All freshmen, except those enrolled in the College of Engineering, begin their studies in the College of Liberal Arts. Though many students go on to pursue degrees in other colleges, by far the largest number of undergraduates take most of their courses in the college.

Alumni leaders are pleased to support the liberal arts, said Willard L. Boyd III (1984 J.D.), president of the Alumni Association. He said the new endowment is part of the Association's commitment to serve both alumni visions and university needs. The Association board chose to create an endowment in the College of Liberal Arts because studies in the sciences, arts and humanities provide the foundation for wider learning, and because so many alumni are liberal arts graduates. Since the plan for the endowed chair in liberal arts was conceived, the Association's original gift has grown to $1.1 million. The Iowa Endowment 2000 campaign, completed in 1994, created more than 50 endowed faculty chairs and professorships and 120 graduate, postgraduate and professional fellowships throughout the UI. More than $250 million has been committed in private contributions.

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 scholarships and other forms of support for the UI.

For more information about the new endowment for liberal arts, contact Maxson at (319) 335-2610 or Rich Wretman at the UI Foundation, (319) 335-3305.