News Service


Thomas Mitchell, ISU Foundation, (515) 294-4607
Murray Blackwelder, External Affairs, (515) 294-7730
David Topel, College of Agriculture, (515) 294-2518
John McCarroll, University Relations, (515) 294-6137


AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University has received an $80 million gift, the largest in its history as well as one of the largest to a public university in the United States.

The gift's history began in 1996 when Iowa State announced a $34 million gift from an Iowa couple who wished to remain anonymous. The commitment included a $4 million trust and an estate valued at $30 million and kicked off the University's record-setting $300 million Campaign Destiny: To Become the Best, the largest private fund-raising initiative in ISU's history.

"We have now received this estate gift, and its current value is estimated at $80 million," said Iowa State University President Martin C. Jischke, when he announced the gift today on central campus. "It was the donors' intent not to have the total value known until their deaths."

Hundreds of ISU students, including representatives of several agricultural related student organizations, were on hand for the noon ceremony. In addition to President Jischke, the program was to include remarks by Charles Johnson; national chair of Campaign Destiny; Thomas Vilsack, governor, State of Iowa; Owen J. Newlin, president of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa; and David Topel, dean, College of Agriculture.

"The people who made this gift were long-time friends and supporters of Iowa State. This gift, with its incredible history, reflects their long- term faith in this university," said Jischke.

The gift is the largest made to a college or university in Iowa, the eighth largest to a U.S. public university, and the 26th largest to any U.S. university, according to the Aug. 20, 1999, listing, "Major Gifts and Grants to Higher Education since 1967," maintained by the "Chronicle of Higher Education. "

The gift, which will be used to establish an endowment for Iowa State's College of Agriculture, also is believed to be the largest to any U.S. college of agriculture, according to members of the National Agricultural Alumni and Development Association, Inc.

The donors requested that the estimated $4-million annual income from the endowment be used to support agronomy programs through such enhancements as endowed faculty chairs and distinguished professors, scholarships and fellowships, and research and education programs.

"Receiving this gift is both an honor and responsibility. The donors' generosity will make it possible for Iowa State to educate more students, explore further the frontiers of science and better serve agriculture and society. It creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the College of Agriculture and Department of Agronomy to become the best in the nation. Our gratitude is tremendous and goes beyond mere words," Jischke said.

Agriculture has been a focus of Iowa State since being designated as the first land-grant institution in 1864. The College of Agriculture is the third largest at Iowa State for undergraduate enrollment, reflecting a 10-year upward trend. In addition to more than 3,600 students, the college has 16 departments, offers 26 specialties, and is involved in 360 research projects. The Department of Agronomy, founded in 1902, has some 400 graduate and undergraduate students and more than 200 faculty and staff members.

"Programs in plant breeding and genomics and plant stress, programs focused on natural resources, farm profitability, the security of our food supply and distance education -- all would reflect the donors' broad interests," said David Topel, dean of the College of Agriculture.

"This gift will have a transforming effect on Iowa State, the College of Agriculture and the Department of Agronomy," said Tom Mitchell, ISU Foundation president. "This is just another example of the extraordinary faith that alumni and friends have shown in Iowa State. The common thread is the thousands of donors whose gifts of all sizes are making Campaign Destiny an unparalleled success."

"Campaign Destiny is helping Iowa State extend its land-grant mission by giving more students educational opportunities and by providing Iowans with ideas that address the economic and societal problems in our cities and rural areas," said Charles Johnson, national chair. "Its impact reaches across disciplines and is helping ISU become the best land-grant institution in the nation."

The campaign goal was extended to $425 million in September 1998. Scheduled to conclude in June 2000, the campaign has generated more than $370 million in gifts from alumni, friends, corporations and foundations.


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