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University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 30, 2003

Center Makes UI First To Offer K-College Gifted Student Support

The University of Iowa Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development and the UI Honors Program will make history next week when they move into the new Blank Honors Center.

With the opening of the center, the UI will become the first school in the nation to offer under one roof programs, services and support for academically gifted and talented students all the way from kindergarten through college.

The Blank Honors Center is located on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway, east of the Chemistry Building. On Monday, Jan. 5 the Belin-Blank Center is moving 31 employees from its offices in the Lindquist Center, which houses the College of Education. The Honors Program is moving 19 employees from its Jefferson Building location the very next day, Tuesday, Jan. 6.

A fire in August that damaged the building's exterior threatened to delay the center's opening. But repairs were quickly made and construction was completed on time.

Honors Program Assistant Director Robert Kirby said one major advantage offered by the new building is the fact that it's attached to Daum Residence Hall, which is where honors students live.

"The new center brings together in one place the honors learning community, classrooms and our administrative offices," Kirby said, adding that there are about 5,000 undergraduate honors students. "Our spring honors seminars will be held in our new classrooms. This really goes a long way toward building a sense of community among our honors students."

Belin-Blank Center Director Nicholas Colangelo, Ph.D., said, "The Blank Honors Center has been designed for both college and pre-college students. The rooms, furniture and floor plans have been a response to needs of honors students as well as students in the Belin-Blank Center's pre-college programs," Belin-Blank Center Director Nicholas Colangelo, Ph.D., said, "This is a good example of space following function. This was the dream of Myron and Jacqueline Blank. I believe the new building fulfills that dream."

The center is named after Des Moines couple Myron and the late Jacqueline Blank, who donated $5 million toward the $14 million project.

Myron Blank is president of Central States Theatre Corporation in Des Moines, and Jacqueline Blank was the corporation's vice president and assistant secretary. Jacqueline Blank was also a former member of the University of Iowa Foundation's board of directors.

Although the Blanks are not graduates of the University of Iowa, they are longtime supporters of the university and in 1990 received the Distinguished Friend of the University award from the UI Alumni Association. In 1979 they established a program in the UI College of Education to help identify talented and gifted students in Iowa, and in 1988 they -- along with the late David and Connie Belin of Des Moines -- provided financial support for the creation of the Belin-Blank Center.

The Belin-Blank Center specializes in programming and research to meet the educational needs of exceptionally talented children and their teachers. It conducts an extensive roster of talent searches, pre-college programs, teacher training workshops and counseling programs. It also has partnerships with programs in other countries, making it both a national and international force. Additionally, the Belin-Blank Center has programs targeting teachers and students in nearly every grade level and from a variety of backgrounds.

The Honors Program is open to qualified undergraduate students. The program offers academic and social events such as classes, seminars, speakers, assistance in applying for scholarships and research grants, as well as a broad range of co-curricular opportunities for UI honors students.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,