The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Our Tomorrow, unlocked today

UNI campaign raises goal to $300 million by 2026
UNI+alum+David+Wilson+from+the+class+of+1970+pledged+%2425+million+to+the+College+of+Business+on+Oct.+20%2C+2023.+Wilsons+donation+is+the+largest+single+gift+in+UNIs+history.
STEPH STARK
UNI alum David Wilson from the class of 1970 pledged $25 million to the College of Business on Oct. 20, 2023. Wilson’s donation is the largest single gift in UNI’s history.

As of January 2024, Our Tomorrow: The Campaign for UNI, has officially exceeded its $250 million goal two years ahead of schedule. Now, UNI’s foundation wants to think even bigger for Our Tomorrow to create a better tomorrow for UNI. 

The UNI foundation has announced that after the campaign’s immense success, Our Tomorrow’s new goal is to raise an additional $50 million in hopes of raising $300 million by 2026. 

Jim Jermier, president of University Foundation and vice president of University Advancement at the University of Northern Iowa, said that it’s been remarkable to see the community step up to this campaign not just as vice president, but as an alumnus. 

“As an alumni, to see my friends giving toward this campaign was incredibly fulfilling, it meant the world to me,” Jermier said. 

Jermier added that Our Tomorrow also recently celebrated the fact that out of approximately 28,009 unique donors, 40% of them were first-time donors to the campaign. 

“If anything, that should show the confidence people have for the University of Northern Iowa,” Jermier said. “And it really represents the president’s vision of building the tomorrow UNI needs.” 

Volunteer co-chair of the Our Tomorrow campaign, Katie Mulholland agreed that the most rewarding part of the campaign has been seeing the numerous donations by people who believe in the University of Northern Iowa. 

“It told me that their education and experiences at UNI made such a difference to them that passing that legacy on to the next generations was critical,” Mulholland said. 

According to Iowa Capital Dispatch, the creation of Our Tomorrow by the UNI Foundation began its funding in 2018 before officially being announced publicly in October 2022.

Mulholland also shared that UNI President Mark Nook thought of the name “Our Tomorrow” based on song lyrics from one of the university’s graduation songs. 

“President Nook floated the idea among the campaign team as an important message in the UNI alma mater song with the verse, ‘Our tomorrows shall be thine,’” Mulholland said. “I loved that idea.” 

UNI President Mark Nook speaks at the historic announcement of David Wilson’s pledge. (STEPH STARK)

A major boost in allowing the campaign to surpass its goal two years early is credited to alumnus David W. Wilson (‘70), who donated $25 million to the business college – the largest single donation in UNI’s history. 

During the donation announcement, Wilson said he decided to make his gift a challenge gift in hopes that others would step up as well to help build this remarkable institution. 

“Each donation shows your commitment to the students of today, as well as those of tomorrow,” Wilson said. 

In the donation announcement, President Nook said the David W. Wilson College of Business building is now the first named college on campus. 

“We’re honored that the Wilson business college will forever stand in testament to David’s belief in the power of the University of Northern Iowa,” Nook said. 

Jermier also added that very early on in the campaign, Our Tomorrow celebrated a $10 million donation from co-chair David Takes and his wife Karen. 

In response to Our Tomorrow raising their 2026 goal to $300 million, Mulholland believes it’s more than achievable. 

“I think it can be met because of the energy and focus of President Nook and his leadership team, UNI’s faculty, the tremendous work of the Foundation leadership and staff, and the alumni whose life and family successes will pay it forward,” Mulholland said. 

Mulholland added that the new donation goal has made it possible for additional goals to be added to accommodate projects that were not in the initial plan, as well as meet some funding gaps. 

Our Tomorrow’s newly added projects include the nursing program, a new wrestling facility, and continued funding for student scholarships and faculty support.

We overcame any challenges by the university’s story of what we’re all about and always have been: there were enough good people, both campus partners and volunteer leaders, that wanted to make this happen.

— Jim Jerimier, president of University Foundation and vice president of University Advancement at UNI

Jermier notes that despite Our Tomorrow achieving its original 2026 goal, there’s still much to do to benefit the university and its students and faculty. 

“We’ve come a long way, but there’s still more to do. For example, for Gallagher Bluedorn we’ve raised $14.9 million. We’re currently $600,000 dollars short,” Jermier said. 

Other physical projects that still need financial support are the applied engineering building, the UNI dome, and the Campanile, which is a $2.1 million project and has raised $1.7 million thus far. 

Jermier said that also noteworthy is the 14,050 faculty and staff who contributed to this campaign. 

“The amount they’ve donated is record breaking, nearly $12 million,” Jermier said. “It is remarkable to see that they believe, they believe in the institution they represent. It shows our alumni and other supporters an awesome message.” 

COVID-19 happening in the middle of the campaign was one obstacle to work through. Jermier said that despite this challenge, the committee found ways to accommodate by using video conferencing. 

“We overcame any challenges by the university’s story of what we’re all about and always have been: there were enough good people, both campus partners and volunteer leaders, that wanted to make this happen,” Jermier said. 

Jermier added that all donors, old and new, are transformational toward this campaign and any campaign to come. 

“Whether it’s $5 or $25 million, every gift matters. We’ll have our hands full the next couple years,” Jermier said. “But, if you want to make something happen, you will find a way. And if you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

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KATE MURPHY, Staff Writer
STEPH STARK, Head Photographer

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