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CONTACT: CHRIS GOODALE
Associate Director of Development
College of Medicine and College of Public Health
UI Foundation News
500 Levitt Center for University Advancement
Iowa City IA 52242
Phone: (319) 335-3305 or (800) 648-6973

Release: Jan. 11, 2000

Pioneer Hi-Bred funds UI rural safety and health professorship

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A $500,000 gift from Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. will fund a professorship in rural safety and health at the University of Iowa. The gift was made to the UI Foundation to create the Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. Professorship in the UI College of Public Health's Institute for Rural and Environmental Health and Department of Occupational and Environmental Health.

Recognizing a longtime partnership with the UI, Eric Fogg, community investment program manager at Pioneer, said, "A professorship at the University of Iowa is a logical step and a good investment for Pioneer. Iowa is taking a national leadership role in rural health and farm safety. Research done at the university affects a group of people who are very important to us -- they are our customers, they are our employees, and most important they are our friends."

Dr. James A. Merchant, dean of the UI College of Public Health, said the gift reflects Pioneer's tradition of making investments that strengthen rural communities. "Pioneer has made a tremendous commitment to Iowa's rural communities and farm families," Merchant said. "This professorship will memorialize in a very appropriate way all the work that Pioneer has done in the area of rural safety and health."

Dr. Craig Zwerling, head of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health and director of the Institute of Rural and Environmental Health, said a national search will begin immediately to name a Pioneer professor. The gift funds will be invested through the UI Foundation, and earnings from the endowment will be used to support activities of a professor to enhance rural safety and health research.

An Iowa-based company incorporated in 1926, Pioneer has partnered with the UI on numerous initiatives benefiting America's rural population. Pioneer's support of an international workshop and conference in 1988 resulted in the publication of "Agriculture at Risk—A Report to the Nation." The UI conference and report raised awareness of the epidemic of injury and disease among the nation's farm workers and influenced national policy for agricultural safety and health. Due in part to this report, more than $40 million is awarded annually through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the United States Department of Agriculture to protect farmers and farm families from occupational hazards.

The UI Center for International Rural and Environmental Health (CIREH), initially directed by Merchant, was founded and sustained with support from Pioneer. CIREH has developed research and training initiatives in Africa, Costa Rica and Eastern and Central Europe. Through CIREH, Pioneer has sponsored international scholarships and externships to benefit UI students, many of whom have gone on to international careers.

Pioneer funds also helped establish Iowa's Center for Agriculture Safety and Health (I-CASH) in 1990. Fogg now chairs an advisory board for the I-CASH program.

Pioneer has generously supported more than 20 areas within the UI including athletics, the performing arts, law, medicine, nursing, engineering, business and liberal arts programs. The company also supports professional training for women through its support of the university's Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program.

The Pioneer gift is part of the university's planned comprehensive campaign to advance the UI's strategic goals for the years 2000-2005. The campaign, which is in its early stages and for which no final dollar goal has been established, will be conducted under the guidance of the UI Foundation and will raise funds to substantially increase the number of UI merit- and need-based scholarships, as well as the number of endowed faculty chairs and professorships; support eight new educational and research facilities; fund outreach and service programs to benefit individuals, families and communities throughout the state of Iowa; build the UI's endowment; and launch new initiatives in the arts, sciences, business, health care and other fields.

The UI Foundation is the preferred channel for private contributions to all areas of the university. Foundation staff work with alumni and friends to generate funds for scholarships, professorships, facilities improvements, equipment purchases, research and other UI initiatives.