CONTACT: STEPHEN PRADARELLI
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Nov. 18, 1999
Blanks donate $5 million for gifted/talented building,
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Myron and Jacqueline Blank of Des
Moines are donating $5 million to the University of Iowa Foundation for the
Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted and Talented Development, $3 million
of which will go toward construction of a new building to house the Center
and the UI Honors Program, UI President Mary Sue Coleman announced today.
The remaining $2 million will endow future Belin-Blank programs.
Including the $5 million gift, the Blanks have given
more than $9 million in the past two decades to the University of Iowa Foundation
in support of the Belin-Blank Center.
The Blank gift was officially announced during a special
reception this afternoon at the W.A. Krause Center in Des Moines. In addition
to the Blanks, the event was to be attended by Coleman, UI College of Education
Dean Sandra Damico, Belin-Blank Director Nicholas Colangelo, Belin-Blank Associate
Director Susan Assouline, UI Foundation President Michael New and Owen Newlin,
president of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.
The building will be constructed along the T. Anne
Cleary Walkway east of the Chemistry Building. In addition to the Blank donation,
the recently formed Belin-Blank Advisory Board -- chaired by Mark McCormick
of Des Moines -- has pledged to help raise at least $3 million in private
donations. The Belin-Blank Center, part of the UI College of Education, is
currently housed in the Lindquist Center. The Honors Program is housed in
The project was given an initial green light Oct.
21, when the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, gave the UI permission to hire
an architect to draw up a master plan for developing the site. The building
would be included in the first phase of that development. No timeline for
construction of the building has been set.
Coleman and New will propose that the new building
be named after the Blanks.
By bringing the Belin-Blank Center and Honors Program
together under one roof, Coleman said the University of Iowa will become the
first school in the nation to offer programs, services and support for academically
gifted and talented students all the way from kindergarten through college.
"Twenty years ago, a gift from the Blanks provided
seed money for what would later become a nationally recognized center for
gifted and talented children," Coleman said in announcing the gift. "With
today's generous donation, the Belin-Blank Center -- working closely with
the Honors Program -- undoubtedly will make the University of Iowa the nation's
premiere center for students with exceptional academic ability.
"With their creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial
skills, these students will create a ripple effect that will benefit the University
of Iowa, and the entire state, culturally and economically," Coleman added.
Colangelo called the donation a "landmark gift."
"Their generosity and thoughtfulness will make possible
a place and program that will enhance the education and lives of countless
students and their teachers," Colangelo said. "The new Center will provide
the research and training that will make the education of highly able students
an exciting and fundamental part of the nation's schools. Iowa's reputation
as a leader in education will be strengthened. The vision and generosity of
Myron and Jackie Blank will be a legacy to the students and teachers of our
Myron Blank is president of Central States Theatre
Corporation in Des Moines, and Jacqueline Blank is the corporation's vice
president and assistant secretary. Jacqueline Blank is also a former member
of the University of Iowa Foundation's board of directors.
Although the Blanks are not graduates of the University
of Iowa, they are longtime supporters of the university and in 1990 received
the Distinguished Friend of the University award from the UI Alumni Association.
In 1979 they established a program in the UI College of Education to help
identify talented and gifted students in Iowa, and in 1988 they -- along with
the late David and Connie Belin of Des Moines -- provided financial support
for the creation of the Belin-Blank Center.
The Belin-Blank Center, under Colangelo's direction,
specializes in programming and research to meet the educational needs of exceptionally
talented children and their teachers. It conducts an extensive roster of talent
searches, precollege programs, teacher training workshops and counseling programs.
It also has partnerships with programs in other countries, making it both
a national and international force.
Additionally, the Belin-Blank Center has programs
targeting teachers and students in nearly every grade level and from a variety
of backgrounds. Its summer programs have drawn almost 10,000 students from
elementary school through high school, and from both rural and urban areas,
take part in hands-on programs in the arts, humanities,
mathematics and science. Its Invent Iowa program encourages students in elementary,
middle and high school to create inventions and other innovations. And this
fall, 10 high school juniors from across the country became the inaugural
class of the Center's National Academy of Arts, Sciences and Engineering (NAASE),
a program -- the first of its kind at a major research institution -- that
allows students with high academic ability a chance to move into the stimulation
of university research and course work.
The Center is also involved in cutting-edge research
of gifted and talented education. In May it organized the inaugural Wallace
Family National Conference on Gifted Education in Rural Schools, which was
sponsored by H.B. and Jocelyn Wallace of Scottsdale, Ariz., through their
Wallace Research Foundation. The event brought together leading researchers
and advocates to discuss the challenges and successes of gifted education
in small and rural school districts throughout the nation and produced "Gifted
Education in Rural Schools: A National Assessment." Currently, it is accepting
papers for the Fifth Biennial Wallace National Research Symposium on Talent
Development May 18-20, 2000, an opportunity for researchers and theorists
from around the world to present their current work on talent development,
creativity, and gifted education.
The Honors Program is open to qualified undergraduate
students. The program offers academic and social events such as classes, seminars,
speakers, assistance in applying for scholarships and jobs, and opportunities
for volunteer activities to more than 3,500 UI honors students.