UI to receive $70 million gift for health care expansion, biggest in university history

In the largest gift in university history, the University of Iowa will receive a $70 million donation from the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation to expand health care for Iowans.


Tate Hildyard

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics are seen on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Editor

The University of Iowa will receive $70 million to fund a new patient care building for the university’s hospitals and clinics.

The gift is the largest in the UI’s 175-year history and comes from the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation. Jacobson graduated from the UI in 1958 and the foundation focuses its grants to education, youth development, and medical research. In April 2020, the foundation gave UI Health Care $2 million to help cover COVID-19 expenses.

In an interview with The Daily Iowan, UI President Barbara Wilson said she hopes this investment will allow the university’s health care system to turn away fewer patients.

“We’ll be building a new tower in the hospital area, so it’s really exciting,” Wilson said. “We turn away many patients every year around the state who need critical health care and we just don’t have the space for those patients, over 2,000 individuals a year.”

She said the gift is “transformational” for the university and is a “great endorsement” in UIHC’s current workings.

The university knew it needed to expand its health care infrastructure before the gift was donated, Wilson said. The funding helped the university lean toward the decision to build the tower.

The new building will be across from Kinnick Stadium once it is built.

Wilson said the gift process began before she started her tenure at the UI in July 2021. Funds from the gift will not be allocated to research or education facilities.

“This [gift] is really for the tower, which will be primarily a patient care facility,” she said. “We have other work to do on that side of the river and around research and other things. But this particular tower will be for patient care.”

The building is part of a 10-year revitalization plan for the university. The plan focuses on academic, health care, and research buildings across the central UI campus.

In a press release, Regents President Mike Richards said the gift is “extraordinary.”

“UI Health Care must continue to prosper and grow, and this transformational funding gets the planning of the 10-year UI medical campus modernization off to a phenomenal start,” Richards said. “I look forward to updates from the university.”

The new facility will feature single inpatient rooms, operating rooms, and ICU beds. The release said the tower aims to resolve rising health care demands across Iowa and aging facilities.

Lynette Marshall, UI Center for Advancement president and CEO, wrote in an email to the DI that the gift shows Jacobson’s passionate commitment to education and medical research.

“Donors at all levels make a difference at Iowa, and Dick’s gift will be transformational for our health care campus,” she wrote. “He has already helped our campus community in so many ways … It’s truly extraordinary to witness this generosity and imagine what it will do and how many people it will help.”

The gift will help modernize its care facilities to meet complex care needs of Iowans. It will allow residents to remain in the state to receive health care.

UI Vice President for Medical Affairs Brooks Jackson said the facility will be essential to the university’s future plans for its health care system in the press release.

“Over the next decade, Iowa will face a health care crisis related to an aging population with complex care needs,” he said. “This new facility is an important piece of a larger plan to meet these needs, and this visionary gift will positively impact the lives of Iowans throughout the state for generations to come.”