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Hadley and Villafana to Receive Honorary UI Degrees

Leonard A. Hadley and Manny Villafana will receive honorary University of Iowa degrees in recognition of their contributions to industry, civic involvement, and support for UI students and programs.

Hadley and Villafana will be awarded their degrees at the university’s May commencement ceremonies. The Iowa Board of Regents approved the degrees during its Dec. 4 meeting.

“Len Hadley and Manny Villafana are accomplished leaders, strong supporters of education, and good friends to the University of Iowa,” says UI President Sally Mason. “We’re grateful for the chance to recognize their work and the example they set for our students.”

Advocate for business education

Hadley will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the May 17 Tippie College of Business undergraduate commencement ceremony. The honor recognizes his leadership and advocacy on behalf of the college, and his commitment to the missions of the college and the university.

Len Hadley

“Len Hadley is a stellar example of someone who reached the highest point possible in his working career, but also has had a significant impact on his alma mater, the University of Iowa,” says Tippie College of Business Dean Sarah Fisher Gardial in nominating Hadley for an honorary doctorate. “We are a better and stronger institution thanks to his support.”

Hadley received a Bachelor of Science in commerce degree from the UI in 1958. In 1959, he joined the Maytag Company as a cost accountant, beginning a career with the company that spanned more than 40 years. He was named Maytag’s CEO and chairman in 1992, briefly retiring in 1999 before returning to steer the company toward profitability. He resumed his retirement in 2001.

Hadley has helped the Tippie College of Business expand its evening and weekend MBA programs, building backing in central Iowa, providing financial support, and, while Maytag CEO, helping to fund tuition for interested Maytag employees.

He and his wife, Marlene, are generous supporters of the college; Hawkeye athletics; Hancher; and glaucoma research, education, and clinical care through the Department of Ophthalmology in the Carver College of Medicine and UI Health Care. Hadley is a member of the UI Foundation board of directors, the Tippie College of Business advisory board, and the UI Presidents Club.

A committee of UI faculty receives nominations for honorary degrees and forwards recommendations to the university’s provost and president. The Iowa Board of Regents reviews and approves honorary degree requests.

Medical device pioneer

Villafana will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science degree in recognition of his contributions to biomedical device development, biomedical engineering, civic leadership, and student success. He’ll be awarded the degree at the May 17 College of Engineering commencement.

Manny Villafana“Manny Villafana rose from modest beginnings to become one of the world’s preeminent innovators in the area of medical devices,” says UI College of Engineering Dean Alec Scranton. “His amazing ability to identify and develop important new medical devices has touched countless lives.”

Villafana worked with companies Picker International and Medtronic before launching a career as an entrepreneur. In 1971, he launched Cardiac Pacemakers Inc., which revolutionized the field with the long-life lithium iodine pacemaker, a technology that still makes up most of the market.

He also founded Guidant Corporation to focus on cardiovascular health care products; St. Jude Medical, which introduced the bi-leaflet mechanical heart valve; GV Medical, manufacturer of a device to open blood vessels; Helix BioCore (later ATS Medical), whose bi-leaflet valve reduced clots and improved blood flow; and CABG Medical to create an artificial graft for coronary bypass surgery.

In 2007, Villafana launched Kips Bay Medical, a medical device company that focuses on developing, manufacturing, and commercializing its proprietary external saphenous vein support technology, or eSVS MESH®, for use in coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery. He currently serves as founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Kips Bay Medical.

Villafana and his wife Elizabeth Elder Villafana—a UI Tippie College of Business alumna—are strong supporters of the College of Engineering. He helped develop the college’s biomedical engineering department into the nationally recognized program it is today, and provided gifts to establish the Elder Computer Laboratory and enhance facilities available to all UI engineering students.

A committee of UI faculty receives nominations for honorary degrees and forwards recommendations to the university’s provost and president. The Iowa Board of Regents reviews and approves honorary degree requests.


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