UNI Legislative Update
The Office of Governmental Relations provides legislative updates to the campus community through online communication and bimonthly campus presentations. These updates will inform faculty, staff and students of hot topics facing the legislature and legislative actions affecting UNI and the Regents institutions.
August 19, 2010
Richard O. Jacobson pledges $11 million to create literacy center at UNI
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Des Moines businessman Richard O. Jacobson has pledged $11 million to create the Richard O. Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy at the University of Northern Iowa, pending approval by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. This is the largest gift the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation has made, and the largest gift ever to UNI.
The Center will focus on educating, coaching and mentoring teachers and administrators to develop effective instructional practices based on current reading research. Start-up support of $1 million will prepare UNI faculty and literacy coaches in selected partner schools. Professional development for teachers will impact the literacy learning of all students in the schools. An endowment of $10 million will support the expansion of the program to schools throughout Iowa as well as continue to strengthen UNI's work in preparing new teachers, serving current teachers and conducting research on best practices in literacy education.
Jacobson said, "Learning to read is the most important aspect of education and the foundation for all subsequent learning. UNI has long been known for excellence in preparing teachers and especially teachers in reading. I am pleased to partner with UNI to impact the children of Iowa."
"To have a non-alum and business leader of his stature invest in UNI is the strongest affirmation to our vision of being the nation's leading resource on pre-K through 12 issues," said UNI president Ben Allen. "Dick's gift reflects his commitment to the youth of Iowa and his understanding of the critical relationship between quality education, particularly reading, and economic development."
Dwight C. Watson, dean of UNI's College of Education, said, "This generous gift allows us to address literacy development of current and future students, and especially students of color and students with low socio-economic backgrounds. We will implement training through partner schools as well as the Research and Development School at UNI to successfully close the achievement gap for students with learning challenges. This model will be replicated across Iowa."
Jacobson, a Belmond, Iowa, native is the founder of Jacobson Companies. Beginning in 1968 with a single Des Moines warehouse, Jacobson grew the warehouse facilities to more than 30 million square feet, while expanding the company into a business encompassing eight separate companies and employing more than 6,500 people in 27 states. He was also one of the original investors in Hawkeye Renewables, one of the largest producers of ethanol in the United States.
Jacobson's gift is part of the $150 million Imagine the Impact Campaign for the University of Northern Iowa. The campaign focuses on scholarships, faculty and program support.