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UI to Award Honorary Degrees to Pomerantz, Ponseti

The University of Iowa will award honorary doctorate degrees to Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, who developed a technique to cure club foot as a professor of orthopaedics in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, and Marvin Pomerantz, university alumnus, business leader, benefactor, and former president of the Iowa Board of Regents.

Pomerantz and Ponseti will receive their Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees during the winter commencement exercises for the University of Iowa's Graduate College at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21 in Hancher Auditorium.

Pomerantz will also speak at the Tippie College of Business' undergraduate commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 22 in Hancher Auditorium.

Pomerantz earned his bachelor's degree in commerce from the UI in 1952. He is a founding member of the Tippie College of Business' Board of Visitors and the business library is named in his honor. He has been a member of the UI Foundation board of directors since 1976, chaired the Iowa Endowment 2000 Campaign, co-chaired the campaign that resulted in the construction of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and served as a member of the steering committee for the College of Business Building Campaign.

He co-chaired the "Good. Better. Best. Iowa." campaign, where he helped raise more than $1 billion for the university. He and his family have also given generously to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, College of Public Health, Hancher Auditorium, Museum of Art, University of Iowa Athletic Department, Tippie College of Business and the Pomerantz Career Center. His lead gift of $10 million was instrumental in the development and construction of the Pomerantz Center.

Pomerantz also served as president of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, from 1987 to 1993 and again for a year in the mid-1990s. He also started three companies in Iowa: the Mid-America Group, the Great Plains Bag Corporation and the Gaylord Container Corporation.

Ponseti, professor emeritus in the UI's Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, is internationally recognized for pioneering a nonsurgical treatment for clubfoot more than 50 years ago. Clubfoot is a congenital disorder that causes a child's foot to turn inward and downward. Many cases -- mostly in developing nations -- go untreated, leaving children unable to walk normally.

The Ponseti method involves gentle, manual manipulation of the child's foot and the application of toe-to-groin plaster casts. The casts are changed weekly after a clinician manipulates softened foot ligaments to gradually achieve near-normal muscle and bone alignment. Peer-reviewed research has shown the method to be 95 percent effective, which is better than surgery. Moreover, the Ponseti method can be taught to nonphysician providers, making it a viable treatment option in global regions with few or no doctors.

A UI faculty member since the mid-1940s, Ponseti has treated approximately 2,000 children with clubfoot. At 93, he continues to see patients and raise awareness on the benefits of the nonsurgical method. Ponseti International, established in 2006 and based at the university, is an association dedicated to improving clubfoot treatment worldwide through collaboration, education, research and improved access to care.


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