For the second consecutive year, the University of Northern Iowa broke its record for highest annual fundraising total in history, raising $43.1 million.

“We are grateful to the more than 9,300 alumni and donors who gave to support UNI in another record year,” said Jan Bittner, outgoing chair of the UNI Foundation Board of Trustees. “The continued fundraising success shows the commitment and dedication the Panther family has to UNI and its students.”

Total fundraising from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 increased nearly 12% over the previous fiscal year. Success was due in part to record giving from corporations and foundations, with $10.7 million of the UNI Foundation’s fundraising coming from these organizations.

John Deere Waterloo gave its largest gift on record to the university – a $750,000 commitment in support of the Industrial Technology Center renovation. Private fundraising will cover $4.2 million of the $43.9 million cost of the renovation, with the majority of the project funding coming from the State of Iowa. In addition to the support for the Industrial Technology Center, John Deere Foundation continued its support of UNI’s Upward Bound community partnership with a $437,000 grant.

The Kern Family Foundation provided a $2.57 million gift to the UNI Institute for Educational Leadership to expand the “Leading and Learning with Character” program. The program provides professional development around character and ethical frameworks to Iowa school leaders, with a focus on rural Iowa districts.

The Center for Violence Prevention was bolstered by a $2 million gift from Pat and O. Jay Tomson to build the capacity of its prevention efforts as well as provide sustained funding for the Tomson Scholars program, which since 2016 has funded student internships with violence prevention organizations and agencies providing direct services to survivors of abuse.

Of the giving to the UNI Foundation, $18.1 million supported endowments. As of June 30, the university’s endowment had grown to $176 million. Forty new endowments were established during the 2020-21 fiscal year.

“The continued growth in endowments will have an impact on the university and our students long into the future,” said Jim Jermier, vice president for university advancement and president of the UNI Foundation. “The endowments ensure support for generations of UNI students to come.”

Because of donor support, over $5.8 million was provided by the UNI Foundation in scholarships to 1,936 students. Sixty new scholarships were created.

“A UNI education should be within reach of the next generation of UNI students. These scholarships create a path to greater opportunity for students across Iowa and beyond,” said Jermier.

Momentum for the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center renovation, scheduled to begin work in 2022, continued with notable gifts from the Gallagher Family Foundation and the Pauline R. Barrett Charitable Trust toward the $14.9 million renovation and expansion.

Generous support for the Van G. Miller Family Charitable Foundation Meeting Room in the UNI-Dome and the Doug and Ann Goschke Outdoor Practice Facility allowed renovations on those projects to break ground. Construction on each of those projects is nearing completion.

“Each gift from the Panther family is making a better student experience and a strong UNI for generations to come,” Bittner said.

More information about the UNI Foundation can be found by visiting


Sarah Parsons, UNI Advancement,, 319-273-2505