Wednesday, July 15, 2020

And now for some good news.

As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the economy well into the month of May 2020, it became increasingly obvious that financial hardship may prevent some Tippie students from returning to campus. The University of Iowa Tippie College of Business began a quiet effort that raised more than $115,000 in donations specifically for scholarships that will help students who have been affected by COVID-19.

“Keeping our student body progressing academically while in a global pandemic is a multi-faceted challenge,” said Interim Dean Amy Kristof-Brown. “We can’t control many aspects of those challenges, but financial support is one area where we can have a positive impact. Through the amazing generosity of Tippie Advisory Board Members and other prominent supporters of our BizEdge Mentoring and Tippie Gateway programs, we are able to provide support when they need it most.”

Tippie advising staff went into overdrive to identify current Tippie undergraduate and graduate students who were most likely to drop out due to financial pressures, such as a student whose parents lost their jobs. These resources largely support first generation students, those from underrepresented minority groups, as well as women, and members of the college’s LGBTQ+ community. As of this writing, 39 undergraduate and 12 graduate emergency scholarships have been awarded.

“Advisors personally called a list of about 40 students that we identified through various means that might be in financial trouble. That personal outreach went a long way in letting them know the Tippie Community cares about them and is here to offer support. It was critical to connect with students before they got to the breaking point in making a decision for the fall in the hopes that this additional support would allow them to choose not to withdraw,” said Mark Archibald, assistant director of first-year experience and co-director of the Tippie Gateway Program.

That little extra boost of funding was critical to one particular student, says Gabriela Rivera, associate director of diversity, equity and inclusion and director of the BizEdge Mentoring program. After a student’s father lost his job due to COVID-19, this student was heavily weighing whether returning to school was too much of an economic burden for his family.

“Having this extra money is a huge relief for a lot of people,” said Rivera.

The awards themselves average around $2,000 per student, which may not sound like a lot but for many students it’s necessary to ensure that they can graduate on time, said Archibald.  

In early April, rising Tippie senior Jacob Lewis Howard was furloughed from his job but the bills continued to pile up. He credits the Tippie community for keeping him on track: faculty that went the extra mile, student organizations like BizEdge and individuals like Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Ken Brown and Gabriela Rivera for providing support; and now a scholarship that will help ensure he will graduate next year.  

“I was shown that people do care, and people want us to succeed. I’m grateful and I’m glad to be a Hawkeye.”