Guest Opinion: Where there’s a Phil, there’s a way

UI Facilities Management assistant director Dave Jackson shares how every single one of his donations to various departments on campus have made a real difference.


Charles Peckman

Photo illustration

Early in my career at the University of Iowa, I learned the value of giving to our institutional needs. On a warm fall day in 1991, I strolled across the Pentacrest and glanced up at Old Capitol’s golden dome. I immediately noticed the U.S. and Iowa flags were ripped, faded, and worn.

The Old Capitol Museum director informed me that funding for the flags was eliminated during the 1990–91 budget cuts. A volunteer had trimmed and hemmed up the long rips but could not keep up. The flags kept getting shorter. After I learned that each flag cost $26.76 apiece, I wrote a check for $267.60 to the Old Capitol Furnishings Fund for 10 flags. Within a week, new flags were flying over the golden dome, and I could see my donation put to good use.

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When I gave numerous gifts to the UI Raptor Center at the Lake Macbride Field Campus, I knew the money went directly to the rehabilitation of injured Iowa raptors. I also volunteered there for several years as a feeder, cage-maintenance person, and trainer for other volunteers. The experience changed my life. On a visit nearly 20 years later, I discovered that some of these same birds were still alive and well cared for, which inspired me to make another gift.

I’ve given several times to the Campus Beautification Project Fund because our campus appearance affects student recruitment — and to support the efforts of my coworkers. This fund supports the Gateway Project and International Flag Display, two initiatives that promote our rich diversity and sense of place.

I also give to the Sarcoma Registry for Outcomes and Results, which has made a significant difference in many lives. The registry provides the infrastructure that allows researchers to study and develop tailored treatments for sarcoma, including research projects that otherwise could not be done. I’ve also volunteered for the annual fundraising event, the Courage Ride, for the past 10 years. Donations to these types of unfunded initiatives make an impact and help save lives. I smile when I think of the many stories of grateful families helped by the sarcoma registry and how my donation provides physicians and researchers with innovative tools.

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Whether it’s giving to Hancher Auditorium, UI Dance Marathon, or UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, I can see that my donations have been put to good use. I like being Phil. It is part of my core and wired into my DNA. It is an investment in this great institution — an investment real and visible, touching many lives. I’ve come to believe “where there’s a Phil, there’s a way.”

Dave Jackson 

Assistant Director

UI Facilities Management

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