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Release: Nov. 29, 1999

UI Foundation student callers reach milestone

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- With a $100 pledge received earlier this month, University of Iowa student callers working for the UI Foundation's Telefund program have raised more than $1 million in gifts and pledges for the UI during 1999, the first time the program has ever exceeded the million-dollar mark in a calendar year.

The record-breaking call was placed by UI business major Kevin Ferguson from Palos Hills, Ill. Ferguson, a junior, has been working in the Telefund program for about six weeks. "I feel extremely honored to be the person to put us over one million dollars," Ferguson said. "But without all the hard work of the other callers, I would have never had this opportunity. This is an excellent achievement for not only the university but for all the employees involved in Telefund."

On the other end of the million-dollar phone call was UI graduate James Race, Jr. of Houston, Texas. Race earned his Ph.D. in zoology from the UI in 1960 and made his last gift to the university in 1966. Ferguson's call persuaded Race to make a pledge to the Iowa Opportunity Fund, which is used to support high-priority projects throughout the UI.

"I had reactivated my University of Iowa Alumni Association membership recently and wanted to get back into the habit of giving," Race explained. "I work in higher education, and I always give to my undergraduate college, but I guess I needed a little prodding to resume my support for the UI. That's just what the Telefund call did for me, and Kevin was very pleasant."

UI President Mary Sue Coleman recently visited the foundation's Telefund Center (located in the Levitt Center for University Advancement) and was quick to congratulate the callers on their achievement. "These students are terrific ambassadors for the university," she said. "By example, they demonstrate why this is such an excellent institution, and why it is worthy of high levels of private support. Alumni and contributors actually look forward to calls from the foundation's Telefund program -- the students are that personable and that persuasive. I know this million-dollar mark is a record that the callers will strive to top again next year."

The UI Foundation's Telefund program employs approximately 40 UI students each semester as callers, clerks, and program assistants. The student callers -- known as Telefund Specialists -- reach UI alumni and friends throughout the country, seeking contributions in support of the UI's colleges and programs such as the UI Libraries, Hancher Auditorium, UI athletics, and the Museum of Natural History.

Under the direction of the foundation's Director of Annual Giving Programs Kris Meyer, the Telefund program is overseen by Telefund supervisors Anthony Arrington and Mike Dankert, with technical assistance by Operations Specialist Howard Heevner. The program has 24 caller stations equipped with an automated dialing system; so far, the callers have reached more than 42,000 alumni and friends of the University in 1999. To commemorate their record-breaking year, Telefund staff were given T-shirts reading "I made my first million in college."

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.