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University of Iowa News Release


May 20, 2010

Couple endows faculty chair at the University of Iowa

Students and faculty in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) will benefit from a generous contribution designed to recognize and support excellence in undergraduate teaching in the university's largest college. The University of Iowa Foundation has received a $1 million gift from the estate of Herman J. "Herm" Schmidt of Greenwich, Connecticut, to support an endowed chair in the college. The gift establishes the Herman J. and Eileen S. Schmidt Chair.

Schmidt, a native of Davenport, Iowa, who earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the UI in 1938, desired that the chair be awarded to a faculty member in any CLAS department who demonstrates a priority and emphasis on teaching undergraduates. Schmidt and his wife, Eileen S. Schmidt of Greenwich, wanted to support the college's faculty and their dedication to instructing and mentoring students.

"Herm and I wanted to make a contribution that would benefit faculty and students alike," said Eileen Schmidt, who received a bachelor's degree in sociology from the UI in 1946. "We hope that the endowed chair will encourage and strengthen faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to become even more committed to helping students prepare for an increasingly competitive economy post-graduation."

CLAS Dean Linda Maxson, who holds the UI Alumni Association Dean's Chair in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, said the Schmidt Chair honors the college's tradition of academic excellence.

"This endowment will be important in encouraging and sustaining the teaching vitality of the university's oldest and largest college, and its impact will continue for generations," Maxson said. "I am so thankful for Herm and Eileen's years of support to the UI and especially appreciative of this most recent gift, which enables some of the college's highest objectives to be carried out."

Named, endowed faculty chairs are the highest honor bestowed by the university on a member of the faculty. Endowed positions allow the UI to recruit and retain the best faculty, who have a major impact on the learning and development of students.

The gift from the Schmidt estate was the culmination of a lifetime of giving. During his lifetime, Herman Schmidt donated to the UI for 45 years. He was a member of the Presidents Club, which recognizes the university's most generous contributors. In addition, he was a Lifetime Honorary Member of the UI Foundation Board of Directors, and a life member of the UI Alumni Association.

Herman J. Schmidt was born on Feb. 26, 1917, and died in Greenwich, Connecticut, on Oct. 18, 2004. After graduating from the UI, he earned his law degree from Harvard Law School. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence unit, in the Pentagon and in England. In 1951, Schmidt joined Mobil Corporation, where he rose to vice-chairman before retiring in 1978. Schmidt also was a director of the American Enterprise Institute, where he served as chairman for a period of time. He also served as a director of the H.J. Heinz Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and of HON Industries of Muscatine, Iowa.

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 foundation, visit its website at

PHOTOS: A high-resolution image of Herman J. "Herm" Schmidt is available:

A web-quality image also is available:

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Dave Dierks, vice president; 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973;