UI Dance Marathon commits $1.5 million to Stead Family Children’s Hospital for new pediatric cancer professorship

Student representatives of Dance Marathon and UI faculty spoke at the donation’s announcement on Monday in the Iowa Memorial Union.


Matt Sindt

David Dickens, interim department chair and UI Dance Marathon chair in pediatric oncology/hematology speaks at the Iowa Memorial Union on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. Dickens addressed a $1.5 million gift from Dance Marathon to facilitate research and care for children with cancer.

Archie Wagner, News Reporter

Members of the University of Iowa’s Dance Marathon announced a donation of $1.5 million on Monday to fund a new professorship in pediatric oncology at the Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

The funding will facilitate research and medical care for children with cancer.

President of the UI Center for Advancement Lynette Marshall said in the Iowa Memorial Union on Monday afternoon that UI Dance Marathon has a longstanding tradition of service.

“Today, Dance Marathon will make a new commitment to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital,” Marshall said.

A key part of the donation was the emphasis on people’s role in medicine versus technology or facilities.

Bill Nelson, associate dean of students and the IMU executive director, explained how UI Dance Marathon spoke on the important work of people involved in science at the announcement.

“I want to acknowledge the foresight, and frankly the bravery of our student committee members and our family committee members in particular, who helped other Dance Marathon families understand that investing in the scientists, researchers, and practitioners who are engaged in the work is just as important as the pharmacy co-pays,” Nelson said.

David Dickens, interim director in the division of pediatric oncology/hematology and Dance Marathon chair in pediatric oncology/hematology, said the hospital is looking for new staff including pediatric oncologists, especially those from top institutions, to come to Iowa City.

“There’s only so much that one person can do. So I sat down with our department, and we had these meetings earlier, and I said, ‘What do we need the most? We need people,” Dickens said.

“I wish there’s a day where I don’t have to diagnose anybody, but we’re not there yet. So the best I can do now is to make sure that every [parent] who comes here I can say your child is going to be cured,” Dickens said.

UI Dance Marathon’s Big Event will take place Feb. 3-4, 2023, in the IMU.