Elizabeth Beck, University Honors, (515) 294-4371
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa – Robert and Patricia Jester of West Des Moines have pledged $60,000 toward a new building for the Iowa State University Honors Program.

The new building is estimated to cost $2 million, with half coming from university funds and half from private support. The proposed site for the 6,800-square foot building is on central campus on the north side of Curtiss Hall.

"Pat and I believe this new building is essential to the future growth of the University Honors Program, already a notable strength at Iowa State," said Robert Jester. "The plans for this new facility expand upon the residential nature of Osborn Cottage, where the program is now located. Students will benefit from the new conference rooms, scholar's learning center, quiet study areas, kitchen, computer lab and more."

The University Honors Program began in 1961 to facilitate creative and individualized learning among talented and motivated students through advanced courses, seminars and research or special projects with faculty mentors. Approximately 1,300 students, including 400 freshmen, are involved in eight university honors programs each year. The University Honors Program has been housed in Osborn Cottage on central campus since 1976. Osborn Cottage, built in 1882, provides University Honors students with a homelike environment and 24-hour access, said Elizabeth Beck, program director.

"The strongest Honors programs in the nation are housed in specifically designated buildings," said Beck. "While Osborn Cottage has served Iowa State for more than a century, the Honors Program has outgrown this aging building. The Jesters' generosity moves us closer to a new building to serve our growing population of University Honors students."

Robert Jester is president and owner of Jester Insurance Services, which was founded by his great grandfather in 1897. He previously served as president for the boards of directors of Friends of Iowa Public Television and the Des Moines Metropolitan Transit Authority. He attended ISU from 1958 to 1963 and was named Outstanding Young Alumnus in 1975. He received the Order of the Knoll Cardinal and Gold Award in 1997. Patricia Jester is retired as president and owner of Creative Foods Ltd. She graduated from ISU in 1964 with a degree in foods and nutrition.

The Jesters are ISU Foundation Governors, life members of the ISU Alumni Association and members of the Order of the Knoll. Others gifts to ISU from the Jesters have supported the Robert and Patricia Jester Endowment Fund for General Scholarships in the College of Agriculture, the Iowa State Center and the Durham Computational Center.

The Jesters' gift to the University Honors Building project is part of Campaign Destiny, the largest capital campaign in the history of ISU.

"The Jesters' gift reflects the desire of Iowa State alumni and friends throughout the world to help the university become the best land-grant in the nation. Since this campaign began in 1995, their gifts have helped areas throughout the university become even better," said Tom Mitchell, president of the ISU Foundation.

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