John Pappajohn to Receive Honorary University of Iowa Doctoral Degree
John Pappajohn, who immigrated to Iowa from Greece as an infant and went on to become one of The University of Iowa's most accomplished alumni and one of Iowa's most influential entrepreneurs and philanthropists, will receive an honorary doctoral degree from the UI. The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, unanimously approved the honorary degree on March 24, 2010. Pappajohn will receive the degree on Sunday, May 16, 2010.
UI President Sally Mason said the honorary doctor of humane letters degree is a fitting honor for Pappajohn, who lives in Des Moines with his wife, Mary.
"John Pappajohn's vision, generosity, and service have touched the lives of countless Iowans and inspired extraordinary change throughout not just our state, but the nation and the world," Mason said. "He, along with his wife, Mary, has transformed health care, empowered entrepreneurs, and brought the arts to life. We at The University of Iowa are privileged to extend this honor to John."
Pappajohn expressed his gratitude for the Regents' gesture.
"I feel honored to receive an honorary doctorate of human letters from The University of Iowa," he said.
Pappajohn, who beginning at the age of 16 ran his family's grocery store in Mason City, Iowa, after his father's death, earned a bachelor's degree in business from the UI in 1952. He immediately employed his entrepreneurial skills after graduating, starting an insurance agency, and by 1962 had organized the Guardsman Life Insurance Company. He served as chairman of the board for Guardsman until 1969.
In 1969 Pappajohn founded Equity Dynamics Inc., a financial consulting entity, which he continues to serve as president. Through the venture capital firm he also created in 1969, Pappajohn Capital Resources, he has been involved in financing more than 100 business start-ups, many in the health-care field, and has served on the board of directors for more than 40 public companies. In 1996 he was named to the Iowa Business Hall of Fame.
A 1995 recipient of the Horatio Alger Award, Pappajohn is one of Iowa's and the nation's leading philanthropists; the Chronicle of Philanthropy listed the Pappajohns 23rd among its "Philanthropy 50" for 2009. His philanthropic interests have focused on education, the arts, and health care in Iowa. Some highlights include:
- Organizing and financing the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers at five universities and colleges in Iowa; more than 80,000 people have participated in entrepreneurial programs and initiatives
- Supporting the John and Mary Pappajohn Higher Education Center in Des Moines, a collaboration among seven Iowa colleges and universities
- Donating works from his personal collection for the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines; from 1998 through 2009, the Pappajohns were named among the 200 top art collectors in the world by Art News magazine
- Creating the John and Mary Pappajohn Scholarship Fund for ethnic, disadvantaged, and minority students
- Supporting the UI's academic medical center, leading to the naming of the Pappajohn Pavilion at UI Hospitals and Clinics; the John and Mary Pappajohn Clinical Cancer Center; and the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute, to be housed in the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building now under construction
- Supporting the construction of the John Pappajohn Business Building, in which the UI Henry B. Tippie College of Business is housed.
Pappajohn also has served as a volunteer on numerous UI and UI Foundation committees and boards.
Pappajohn will receive his honorary degree at the Tippie College of Business' Undergraduate Commencement on Sunday, May 16 at 1 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Contact: Barbara Thomas, Communications and External Relations, 319-335-2188