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Release: Nov. 18, 1999

Belin family gives $500,000 for Belin-Blank building, programs

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The children of the late David and Connie Belin of Des Moines have donated $500,000 to the University of Iowa Foundation in support of the Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, UI President Mary Sue Coleman announced today.

The donors are Thomas Belin of Santa Monica, Calif., James Belin of Phoenix, Ariz., Jonathan Belin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., Joy Belin-Kramer of Chevy Chase, Md., and Laura Belin of London, England. Some 60 percent of the gift -- $300,000 -- will go toward construction of the new building, which will house the Belin-Blank Center and the UI Honors Program. The remaining $200,000 will endow future Belin-Blank Center programs.

The building will be constructed along the T. Anne Cleary Walkway east of the Chemistry Building. In addition to the Blank donation, the recently formed Belin-Blank Advisory Board -- chaired by Mark McCormick of Des Moines -- has pledged to help raise at least $3 million in private donations. The Belin-Blank Center, part of the UI College of Education, is currently housed in the Lindquist Center. The Honors Program is housed in Shambaugh House.

Coleman and UI Foundation President Michael New will propose that the new building be named after the Blanks.

The Belin family gift follows closely a $5 million donation from Myron and Jacqueline

Blank of Des Moines. The Blank donation will be similarly divided, with $3 million going to the new building and $2 million funding future Belin-Blank Center programs.

"David and Connie Belin were enthusiastic supporters of the University of Iowa's work with gifted and talented young people," Coleman said. "This donation by their children not only honors their parents' memories but helps ensure that the Belin-Blank Center will continue to grow and serve exceptional students and their teachers in Iowa and across the country."

The two gifts were announced during a special reception this afternoon at the W.A. Krause Center in Des Moines. The event was to be attended by the Blanks, Coleman, New, UI College of Education Dean Sandra Damico, Belin-Blank Director Nicholas Colangelo, Belin-Blank Associate Director Susan Assouline and Owen Newlin, president of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

"We're tremendously grateful for this gift," Colangelo said. "It means more academically gifted students and teachers will get the kind of specialized support they need to excel. It also maintains the Belin family name as a leader in support of gifted education."

David Belin headed the Des Moines law firm of Belin, Larson, McCormick, Zumbach, Flynn and was named by the National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. He served as Counsel to the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy and later wrote two books and numerous articles about the assassination.

David Belin cared deeply about gifted education and said, "If this nation is going to survive as a leader, we must nurture our most gifted and talented students." Connie Belin was a teacher and served on the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. The Belins worked with Myron and Jacqueline Blank to draft the initial plans for a comprehensive center focusing on the education of gifted students.

Following Connie's death in 1980, David Belin, the Blanks and Colangelo founded the center at the University of Iowa College of Education and named it in Connie Belin's honor. In 1995 the center was renamed the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. David Belin died in January of this year.