two fortune cookies
June 28, 2017
Sara O'Leary

“You’re not going to believe this,” he said.

It was summer 2014, and all eyes were on Henry Tippie (BSC49). He and his wife, Patricia, along with a small group from the University of Iowa, had just finished lunch at Henry’s favorite Chinese restaurant in Austin, Texas. Henry was the last of the group to pluck a fortune cookie from the middle of the table. He was about to read his fortune aloud.

The group, which included Tippie College Dean Sarah Fisher Gardial, had met with Henry in his office earlier that day to discuss a major contribution to the college — one that would energize the college’s $125 million For Iowa. Forever More. campaign goal. At the close of the meeting, Henry didn’t give a definitive answer. It was a significant gift, and he and Patricia had a busy week ahead; he’d need some time to think it over.

So they went to lunch. And then Henry opened that lone fortune cookie and erupted into laughter. The message?

“Giving makes you smile.”

“It was a moment that could not have been scripted in Hollywood; everyone at our table nearly fell to the floor,” says Dean Gardial. “And after I recovered, I thought, ‘Wow. I think he’s going to do this.’”

Henry called the very next day and said, “I’m going to do it. Here’s how it’s going to work.”

That call set in motion a $15 million matching challenge from the Tippies: Donors who gave $1 million or more, outright, to the college during the remainder of the For Iowa. Forever More. campaign would have their gifts matched.

THE NEXT GENERATION OF LOYAL ALUMNI

That visit to Austin and the ensuing fated fortune cookie (which, by the way, was not orchestrated), grew from a series of conversations between Henry and Dean Gardial about a campaign that was lagging. And about who could step up and become the next generation of transformational givers.

To complement the challenge, the college established the Tippie Society, a recognition group for those who make an extraordinary impact on the Tippie College by giving $1 million or more.

The society will live beyond the campaign, and the two incentives were exactly the boost the campaign needed.

“Our donors are business people,” says Dean Gardial. “They understand leverage, and those who responded to the challenge loved the idea of being able to double their impact.”

Donors did indeed step up and did so gladly. By the time the campaign closed on December 31, 2016, the challenge resulted in a total of $30 million in gifts to the college, which provided critical funding for students, faculty, facilities improvements, and programming.

DEVELOPING FUTURE BUSINESS LEADERS

Jennifer Blackhurst is one of the many faculty members who is grateful for this visionary collaboration.

“It has been my honor and privilege to be a Tippie Research Fellow,” Blackhurst says. “Support such as this makes working at the college so rewarding. It ensures that my fellow faculty members and I have the resources we need, not only to develop ideas and tools to help companies thrive, but also help shape and develop our students into future business leaders.”

Blackhurst has seen the benefits to students as well. One of the collaborative gifts established a leadership program for women. A gift from Tippie alumna Kathy Dore helped establish the Kathleen Dore-Henry Tippie MBA Women’s Leadership Program. Dore, a highly successful businesswoman, wanted to help attract top female MBA candidates to Iowa and create programming to help them rise to leadership roles in business.

“This gift was crucial for the college,” Blackhurst says. “As women move up the corporate ladder, we see a drop off in the percentage of women in leadership roles. Our program focuses on skills development, networking, mentoring, and building a community.”

The first cohort of women to complete the two-year leadership program graduated this past May, and Blackhurst notes “this unique and valuable experience would not have been possible without the generous support of its founders.”

Dean Gardial also is grateful for the remarkable gifts this challenge inspired.

“The Tippies, and those who responded to their call, reenergized this campaign and were the reason that we reached our campaign goal,” says Gardial. “More important, our Tippie Society members helped us set the bar higher. We’re the smallest school in the Big Ten, and we have the lowest tuition. We are funded, through tuition and the state, to be good. We are not funded to be great. Support from our alumni and friends is what allows us to compete and to be the best we can for our faculty and students.”

And the bonus for donors? Well, it’s in the fortune cookie: Giving makes you smile.

THE TIPPIE SOCIETY

Membership in the Tippie Society recognizes donors who, in a single gift or commitment, give $1 million or more to the Tippie College of Business. Members are:

  • Mark and Melanie Albertin
  • Robert C. and Amy L. Arzbaecher
  • Dale and Linda Baker
  • Mary H. and David Q. Bell
  • Alan G. and Diane M. Bunte
  • Sue W. and Frank Cannon
  • Todd S. Caven
  • Daniel W. Collins
  • Keith L. Cook and Sharon Kress
  • Betty C. and Vernon Cox
  • James C. and Mary B. Cozad
  • Barbara A. Davis
  • Kathleen Dore and Keith Jepsen
  • Helen G. and Keith Dunn
  • Janice and Bruce R. Ellig
  • Harris and Judith R. Frank
  • Dennis F. and Bonnie J. Geer
  • Kevin R. and Donna R. Gruneich
  • Leonard A. and Marlene Hadley
  • Lorraine R. Hart
  • Judelle Walke Havener and Gary Havener
  • H. John and Florence Hawkinson
  • Robert E. and Eleanor G. Henry
  • Robert T. and Emma Holmes
  • Stanley and Helen Howe
  • Kurt S. and Sandy S. Huneke
  • Richard O. Jacobson
  • Francis E. and Muriel J. Jeffries
  • Roy G. Karro
  • Chris and Elise Klein
  • Thomas A. and Margaret M. Kloet
  • Curtis K. and Carol Brindley Lane
  • Michael and Julie Mahoney
  • William Mann
  • John L. Miclot and Cathy Rinchetti
  • Herbert E. and Lenore S. Miller
  • Barbara L. and H. Richard Montross Jr.
  • Bob and Kathy Nicolls
  • Lloyd J. and Thelma W. Palmer
  • John and Mary Pappajohn
  • Amanda H. and David G. Pickering
  • Marvin A. and Rose Lee Pomerantz
  • Dempsey J. and Mary T. Prappas
  • Frederick J. Ray
  • Michael A. and Sandra R. Rocca
  • O. Wayne Rollins Foundation
  • Soumyo Sarkar and Chinyu Huang-Sarkar
  • Mark J. Smith
  • Jerre L. and Mary Joy Stead
  • Dennis R. and Margaret M. Stessman
  • Scott L. and Elizabeth R. Taylor
  • Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie
  • Erik M. and Rima J. Torgerson
  • Carol N. Vavra
  • Larry V. and Lori Wright