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Director of Development
College of Engineering
UI Foundation News
500 Levitt Center for University Advancement
Iowa City IA 52242
Phone: (319) 335-3305 or (800) 648-6973

Release: June 20, 2002

$1 million gift to benefit UI College of Engineering and the Mississippi River

A gift of $1 million from University of Iowa graduate Donald E. Bently of Minden, Nev., to the UI College of Engineering will provide support for the college's research and academic programs, students and faculty — and help ensure a healthy future for the Mississippi River.

The Donald Bently Engineering Fund has been established as a permanent endowment, with the annual spendable earnings used to support the college's academic and research pursuits.

"I made this gift in appreciation for the excellent education I received at the UI College of Engineering," Bently said. "The college's solid curriculum in transistors and controls design had significant implications on my career. I also benefited greatly from the excellent teaching at the college and often recall Dr. Edwin B. Kurtz and other wonderful engineering instructors."

While Bently's gift will be used to support various aspects of the college, emphasis will be placed on interdisciplinary research and the research program at the Lucille A. Carver River Research and Education Facility. Located in Fairport, Iowa, a few miles from Bently's birthplace, the facility will enable the college to develop unique education and research programs focusing on river ecology. Researchers and educators will come together at the station, problem-solving and investigating with one common purpose: to ensure the health and future of the Mississippi River and other waterways.

"Mr. Bently truly understands the role of engineering research in advancing society," said P. Barry Butler, dean of the college. "He has solidified his position as an industry leader by investing in research and applying the outcomes to new products. His passion and support for advanced research at the University of Iowa is the same today as it was in the early days of his company, Bently Nevada. We are fortunate to have Mr. Bently provide this inspiration."

A globally recognized authority on rotor dynamics as well as vibration monitoring and diagnostics, Bently was born in Pleasant Prairie, Iowa. He graduated from the UI in 1949 with a B.S.E.E. degree and in 1950 with an M.S. degree from the UI College of Engineering. Working from his garage as a graduate student, Bently perfected a transistorized design for a new type of distance-measuring device. His transducer soon found its application inside machinery where it was used to observe the vibration and position characteristics that are important indicators of machinery condition.

As his company grew, it moved from California to its present location in Nevada, and in 1961 was renamed Bently Nevada. It remained privately held by Bently until January 2002, when GE Power Systems purchased the company.

Bently's gift is part of the UI's $850 million comprehensive campaign, which will run through 2005 and is being conducted under the guidance of the UI Foundation. Named Good. Better. Best. Iowa: The Campaign to Advance Our Great University, the seven-year effort is raising private funds to help launch a variety of initiatives across the university, substantially increase the number of UI scholarships and endowed faculty positions, support new educational and research facilities, build the UI's endowment, and fund outreach and service programs to benefit Iowans.

The UI Foundation is the preferred channel for private contributions to all areas of the university. For more information about the Good. Better. Best. Iowa campaign, visit its web site at