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University of Iowa Foundation News Release


June 2, 2011

Local couple gives $450,000 to engineering and athletics

Students in the University of Iowa College of Engineering and members of the UI women's basketball team will benefit from two recent gifts to the UI Foundation. Ralph and Barbara Stephens, who live near Lake Macbride outside of Solon, Iowa, have made gift commitments totaling $450,000.

The couple gave an outright gift of $250,000 to establish the Professor Ralph and Barbara Stephens Experimental Engineering Lab in the UI College of Engineering. Ralph Stephens, who is currently in phased retirement, has taught and conducted research in the UI Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering since 1965. The lab will be housed in the Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences, and the fund will be used to purchase equipment, support a temporary student position and endow annual support for the lab.

Alec Scranton, interim dean for the college, said the gift will enhance teaching and research.

"This new engineering lab will allow us to expand our course offerings and provide more hands-on learning opportunities for our undergraduate students," said Scranton. "We couldn't be more grateful for Ralph and Barbara's support."

The Stephenses also gave $50,000 to create the Professor Ralph I. and Barbara G. Stephens Women's Basketball Scholarship, and have committed an additional $150,000 to the scholarship fund through a bequest in their estate plan.

Coach Lisa Bluder says private support is critical to the program's continued success.

"I'm so grateful for Barb and Ralph's commitment to the UI women's basketball program," said Bluder. "Their contribution will have an impact on generations of student-athletes at Iowa, and this scholarship gift provides a much-appreciated boost to our endowment."

In 2003, the couple also made planned gifts to create scholarship funds for the UI School of Art and Art History, from which Barb Stephens graduated in 1985, and the UI College of Engineering. The couple said they are proud of their commitment to the university.

"Our greatest accomplishments were gained at Iowa," said Ralph. "This is a great way to give back to our wonderful university, and I hope other faculty will consider doing the same."

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

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Amy Brainard, associate director of development, College of Engineering; 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973; OR Sloane Tyler, director of development, Athletics; 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973; OR Forrest Meyer, executive director, strategic communications; 319-467-3661 or 800-648-6973;

PHOTOS: A high-resolution image of Ralph and Barb Stephens is available:

A web-quality image also is available: