UNI Gets $15 Million Gift for Teacher Education

By Diane Heldt, Reporter

A driver drives through the gateway of the University of Northern Iowa on Thursday, June 23, 2011, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (SourceMedia Group News/Jim Slosiarek)

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - The largest financial gift ever to the University of Northern Iowa will help strengthen and create opportunities in the university's teacher education programs, officials said Wednesday.

The $15 million gift from Des Moines businessman Richard O. Jacobson was announced at a campus event Wednesday afternoon attended by university and state officials. The gift "sets a milestone for teacher education" at UNI, officials said.

In a statement, UNI President Ben Allen said pre-K through 12 educational leadership is a top priority for the university.

"This extraordinary gift affirms our commitment and provides the resources we need to support innovation and leadership in education," Allen said.

Jacobson said UNI has an outstanding education program for preparing principals and superintendents, and university leadership has "demonstrated their vision, expertise and dedication to pre-K through 12 education."

"I hope this gift will strengthen and create educational opportunities that will enable all of Iowa's children to achieve success as individuals and contributors to the larger community and society," he said.

A portion of the gift will support endowed UNI faculty positions in literacy and science, visiting faculty and visiting fellows. Money will support faculty and student research and an annual education summit, among other initiatives, officials said.

In addition, Jacobson chose to honor Allen, his long-time friend, by creating a $5 million endowed scholarship aimed at attracting talented, accomplished students who have the potential to be excellent teachers, a statement said.

This is Jacobson's third and largest gift to the UNI College of Education. Gifts from the Jacobson Foundation to UNI have totaled $30 million and have been focused on teacher education programs.

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