Melinda Gates appears on stage during the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation's Goalkeepers 2017 at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York on September 20, 2017. (PBG/EMPICS Entertainment/Abaca Press/TNS)

Guest Opinion: UI donors can’t do it alone


Philanthropy can’t replace public funding for universities Iowa continues to disinvest in the UI, despite increasing enrollment.

“Philanthropy is not about the money. It is about using whatever resources you have at your fingertips and applying them to improving the world.”

I like this quote from Melinda Gates because it reminds us that there are so many ways to make a difference. At the University of Iowa Center for Advancement, we work to provide opportunities for our alumni and friends to give back, including mentoring, teaching, and providing financial support — all of which help make our university stronger.

RELATED: Guest Opinion: UI must press forward despite disinvestment in higher education

And while our donors provide life-changing opportunities at Iowa, they do not in any way replace the critical funding that the state provides for our programs, faculty, and students. In fact, the Iowa Senate’s budget cuts to the UI run contrary to the commitment and support that our alumni and friends show for our university.

In the last 20 years, the state budget has grown by nearly $3 billion, but funding for the UI has declined. In fiscal 2018, the UI received $7 million less than in 1998, despite enrolling nearly 5,000 additional students. The new $14.6 million in cuts approved on Feb. 8 by the Senate for our three state universities makes this problem significantly worse.

RELATED: Guest Opinion: I love Iowa, but this has gone far enough

During the past two decades, UI donors have demonstrated a profound belief in our mission through their passion and commitment. Consider the 3,000-plus students who, as part of UI Dance Marathon, worked all year to raise $3 million for pediatric cancer patients and their families. Or the donors whose contributions resulted in 4,947 scholarships last academic year, providing students with opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise. Or the 800,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, who raised $25 million to establish a center for diabetes research at the UI.

Philanthropy will never bridge the gap of public funding; it accounts for only 3 percent of the university’s budget. Our alumni and friends give back to Iowa because they want to build on the foundation of a world-class undergraduate, graduate and research university. The Iowa Senate’s budget cuts undermine that foundation.

RELATED: Guest Opinion: Resources necessary to support research that enhances lives

The resource that all of us have, and can use to improve our world, is our voice. We as citizens need to voice our support for the UI, for the opportunities this institution gives our children, for the treatments and cures it provides to our patients, and for the economic growth it provides to our state. Let’s all of us use our voice and ask our legislators to reinvest in our state universities.

– Lynette Marshall

President and CEO

University of Iowa Center for Advancement


As the UI seeks funding from the state Legislature for its fiscal 2019 appropriations request and faces the possibility of more midyear budget cuts, the DI will publish informational pieces and pieces from UI community leaders highlighting the value of higher education and calling for advocacy. Continue checking as Iowa’s universities face this critical issue.

Special Sections

Print Edition

Front Page PDF

Text Links