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University of Iowa Foundation News Release

March 8, 2005

Alumnus Creates Discretionary, Scholarship Funds For UI Journalism School

A gift commitment by Benjamin A. Bankson of Brooklyn, N.Y., to the University of Iowa Foundation will support a discretionary fund and scholarships in the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication (J-MC School).

The commitment through Bankson's estate plans includes approximately $700,000 for the Benjamin Bankson Endowed Journalism Fund. The fund is to be used at the discretion of the J-MC School director for areas of greatest need within the school, which is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS).

Approximately $100,000 of additional funding establishes the Benjamin Bankson Endowed Scholarship Fund. The scholarships are intended for UI students interested in journalism careers focusing on religion and ethics, which was Bankson's field.

A native of Sioux City, Iowa, Bankson graduated with a B.A. degree in journalism from the UI in 1954. He served as city editor at The Daily Iowan newspaper. His career as a writer and editor in the religious press included 15 years as director of publications for the former Lutheran Council in the USA and 16 years as a freelancer. In retirement he operates a bed-and-breakfast, BB's B & B, in his 1846 brownstone home in Brooklyn Heights.

CLAS Dean Linda Maxson said Bankson's gift will be instrumental in ensuring the continued success and growth of the J-MC School.

"Scholarships are crucial for improving access to our educational programming, and Mr. Bankson's scholarship support for UI students is wonderful," Maxson said. "We are especially pleased that Mr. Bankson chose to create a discretionary fund as that will allow the college and school to develop new ideas and ensure funding for where it's needed most in the school. Such unrestricted gifts are rare and extremely beneficial. Mr. Bankson's generosity will be felt for generations, and we are very grateful."

J-MC School Director Pam Creedon also emphasized the significance of Bankson's decision to provide unrestricted funds for the school in addition to expressing her gratitude for the scholarship support.

"In this ever-changing world of technology and media consolidation, Ben's gift will enable us to continue providing our students with the UI education that he valued so highly," Creedon said.

Bankson said he was motivated to make the commitment in appreciation for the education he received at UI and his ongoing respect for the journalism school.

"I included the UI journalism program in my estate planning because I got a solid foundation as a student there, upon which I was able to build a good career and fulfilling life," Bankson said. "I am glad that the discretionary fund will allow creative innovations to move forward. This is vital to an institution and something I have seen at various levels throughout my career. Also, I believe that to help young people get an education is one of the best things I can do. I am very pleased to be able to give back to my alma mater in this way."

The Bankson gift is part of the UI's $1 billion 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 acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university. For more information about the UI Foundation, visit its web site at

STORY SOURCE: UI Foundation, P.O. Box 4550, Iowa City, Iowa 52244-4550

CONTACTS: Media: Jeff Liebermann, Director of Development, Social Sciences and Humanities, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 800-648-6973,; Writer: Nic Arp

PHOTOS/GRAPHICS: Photos for this story are available for downloading at:

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