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UNI announces $15 million gift for teacher education

CEDAR FALLS — A $15 million gift from Des Moines businessman Richard O. Jacobson sets a milestone for teacher education at the University of Northern Iowa. Jacobson’s gift to UNI’s College of Education is the largest gift UNI has ever received.

Jacobson said, “UNI is renowned for the quality of teachers it produces. It has an outstanding program for preparing principals and superintendents, and the university’s 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.”

Jacobson’s gift will benefit UNI’s students and faculty as well as pre-K through 12 students throughout Iowa and the nation. A portion of the gift will support endowed UNI faculty positions in literacy and science, visiting faculty and visiting fellows. Funds will support faculty and student research and an annual education summit, among other initiatives. In addition, Jacobson chose to honor his long-time friend, UNI President Ben Allen, by creating an endowed scholarship in the amount of $5 million. The scholarship will attract talented, accomplished students who have the potential to be excellent teachers.

President Allen said, “We have embraced pre-K through 12 educational leadership as a top priority at UNI. This extraordinary gift affirms our commitment and provides the resources we need to support innovation and leadership in education. I am deeply grateful to Dick for helping us transform education in Iowa and for helping Iowa regain its national leadership in pre-K through 12 education.”

Dwight Watson, dean of UNI’s College of Education said, “Dick’s remarkable generosity will help us strengthen and create education opportunities that propel all Iowa’s children to achieve success as individuals and contributors to the larger community and society. Well-trained, highly effective teachers will play a key role in helping to eliminate social, racial and economic barriers so Iowa’s children will thrive.”

This is Jacobson’s third and largest gift to the 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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