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University of Iowa Foundation News Release

Feb. 17, 2003

(Photo: Richard and Jeanne Levitt)

$1 Million Gift To Endow Special Art Exhibitions

Through a $1 million gift to the University of Iowa Foundation, the Levitt Foundation will provide permanent endowment funding for special exhibitions at the UI Museum of Art (UIMA).

The Levitt Foundation's gift is a two-part contribution that will provide $500,000 within five years for endowed exhibition funding and a one-to-one challenge gift of $500,000 that UIMA will receive when it raises matching gifts that equal $500,000 from other museum contributors. This will bring the endowment for special exhibitions to $1.5 million.

"We are so grateful to Richard and Jeanne Levitt for the many innovative exhibitions they will make possible through the Levitt Foundation gift," UIMA Director Howard Collinson said. "Throughout the years, the Levitts repeatedly have demonstrated their generosity and commitment to the UI -- and the Museum of Art -- with gifts of time and resources. Their latest contribution will allow the Museum's temporary exhibition program to match its renowned permanent collections in quality, which will keep the UIMA in the top rank of American university art museums."

Dick Levitt is a UI graduate who holds a 1952 bachelor's degree in economics and a 1954 J.D. degree. His wife, Jeanne, also is a UI graduate with a 1952 B.A. degree in journalism and mass communication.

"The University of Iowa Museum of Art plays such an important role in both the university and the broader community," Dick Levitt said. "We wanted to help support the museum's valuable contributions to culture and education and supplement its already high-quality collections and exhibitions."

Dick Levitt held several key leadership and executive positions at the former Norwest Corporation (now Wells Fargo) in Minneapolis before his retirement from that company in 1987. He currently is chairman and chief executive officer of the Nellis Corporation in Rockville, Md. Jeanne Levitt serves as a trustee of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Museum of Arts and Design (formerly the American Craft Museum) in New York City.

The Levitts are members of the University of Iowa's Presidents Club, which recognizes the UI's most generous contributors. Dick Levitt also is a member of the UI Foundation board of directors and is a trustee of the Des Moines Art Center.

The Levitt Center for University Advancement, which houses the UI Foundation and the UI Alumni Association, is named in honor of the Levitts' lead gift for the building in 1995.

Both of the Levitts have received UI Distinguished Alumni Awards and have served on numerous university campaigns and committees. Dick Levitt currently is a member of the UIMA's Advisory Committee.

In 1972 the Levitt Foundation made an extended loan of Mauricio Lasansky's 33 Nazi Drawings to the UIMA.

The museum serves the UI and the surrounding region. It has a collection of about 12,000 works of art, including a world-renowned collection of African art and a collection of European and American art since 1900, which includes works by Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso and other masters. In addition, the UIMA curates and hosts prominent traveling exhibitions.

The Levitt Foundation's $1 million 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 acknowledged by the UI as a preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university. For more information about the Good. Better. Best. Iowa campaign, visit its web site at

STORY SOURCE: UI Foundation, 500 Levitt Center for University Advancement, Iowa City, Iowa 52244-4550

CONTACT(S): Kristin Loupee Beckman, associate director of development, (319) 335-3305, Writer: Leah Klevar

PHOTOS/GRAPHICS: A photo of Richard and Jeanne Levitt is available for downloading at