The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

University of Iowa grad and entrepreneur discusses importance of giving back

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Ben S
A Herky statue with a “PHIL Was Here” sash stands on the Pentacrest on Monday, April 24. Beginning in 2012, the UI launched PHIL Was Here to celebrate philanthropy at the university. (The Daily Iowan/Ben Smith)

Giving back to the community is a pillar the University of Iowa prides itself on — and Thursday, “Phil’s Day,” was no exception. In order to honor those who have given back to the community, the university held a “Life with Phil” discussion on the importance of giving back, and the fruits of that philanthropic labor.

On Thursday at the Old Capitol, entrepreneur and UI alum Mark Kaufman, the founder and president/CEO of Athletico Physical Therapy, discussed the importance of philanthropy at the UI and the possibilities it can bring to the community — he has also given back to a number of organizations outside of the UI, including underserved communities through Big Brothers and Big Sisters Chicago and Operation Walk Chicago.

Kaufman’s talk highlighted his path to becoming an entrepreneur and philanthropist, beginning with his origins in small-town Iowa. He grew up listening to Hawkeye football games and working with his father, which led to him attending the UI in the athletics training program. Eventually, Kaufman founded Athletico, which has expanded its clinics throughout the Midwest and Arizona throughout the last 30 years.

“I’ve had a really blessed life, and there’s opportunities to show appreciation and gratitude every day,” he said.

Philanthropic efforts, Kaufman said, are important to generating tangible change in communities, and donations will create a large difference on campus.

“We are just getting started with what the University of Iowa can be,” Kaufman said.

He also provided suggestions to the audience, including identifying mentors, being passionate, and the importance of realizing contributions more than money, such as volunteering.

Kaufman’s sentiment was backed by UI junior Ryan Brennan, a business student and president of the Student Advancement Network, a group focused on spreading philanthropic efforts on campus and beyond.

“I can honestly stand up here and say that I couldn’t be more grateful,” he said. “There are people all over the world that are supporting me and this university that are making opportunities possible.”

Phil’s Day, the university’s seventh-annual celebration, honors philanthropic actions and support of the UI. Nicknamed “Phil” by then-UI Foundation’s Campus Philanthropy Initiative, the day highlights buildings decorated in black and gold to denote funding efforts and places where donations have made a difference.

UI President Bruce Harreld spoke on the importance of Phil’s Day and honoring individuals and businesses who have shown their dedication to the UI and higher education as a whole.

“I would hope that none of us forget the impact that others have on our lives to get us where we are and will be,” Harreld said. “At some point, you need to turn back and decide to help others lie they helped you.”

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