Another busy April has come and gone for Drake University, and it has yielded plenty of event updates to share and points of pride to celebrate. We opened the month with All In, the University’s 24-hour giving challenge that celebrates our collective ability to transform lives and strengthen communities. This year, 1,680 alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff, and friends generously gave nearly $520,000 to support the extraordinary opportunities offered by a Drake education. This again breaks the previous year’s record, and as the numbers around this exciting tradition continue to grow, I feel it is an apt reflection of the upward trajectory of success of this outstanding institution.
Demonstrating Drake’s global reach, I personally was able to go “All In” from 9,200 miles away in Malaysia.
I traveled with Dan Connolly, dean for the College of Business and Public Administration; Leslie Mamoorian, retired Drake staff member; and Patrick Bourgeacq, assistant director for international admission. Together, we explored opportunities for recruitment and partnership. While in Kuala Lumpur, we hosted more than 70 alumni and guests for a lively reception and dinner, and I had the pleasure of learning how Drake has affected and continues to impact the lives of many international graduates. From there, I had the privilege of traveling to Paris to participate in The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement’s fourth annual International Disability Employment Summit. The summit convenes high-level representatives from organizations and countries around the world who are working to increase the employment of people with disabilities. It was inspiring to witness Drake’s leadership make an impact worldwide to create a stronger and more inclusive society.
Of course, the flagship event of April was the 110th Drake Relays. As usual, the athletic competition was stellar from beginning until end and the weekend full of joyful activity. One notable event was the official dedication of the Robert D. and Billie Ray Promenade. The promenade replaces what was formerly 27th Street with a beautiful walkway and gathering space for the community. We’re proud to celebrate the Rays’ incredible legacy through the promenade, and the dedication was another opportunity to recognize what Governor and Mrs. Ray have meant to Drake University and the State of Iowa. We were honored to have Billie (and Griff!) at the event.
Finally, the month ended in spectacular fashion with the announcement of a historic investment in the women’s basketball program. Suzie Glazer Burt’s $5 million gift to empower and inspire our female student-athletes will have a transformational impact across the entire women’s basketball program—which has already seen remarkable success on and off the court. I’m so grateful for Suzie’s incredible support for Drake and her faith in our vision for our athletic programs. Her gift received national media attention—and even caught the eye of famed tennis star Billie Jean King.
We now turn our attention to the end of the academic year. Few moments capture the true impact of this institution like commencement. This year we will honor and send off over 1,100 Drake-educated individuals who will go on to add immense value to the organizations and communities they join, empowered and guided by the liberal arts education and professional preparation they received here on campus. It is a tangible demonstration of our ever more important mission and though it happens each year, it never ceases to inspire me.
Also inspiring to me are the donors like you who make all this possible. Your support lifts our students up and enables us to offer them life-changing opportunities. If you have not yet renewed your President’s Circle membership for this fiscal year, I encourage you to do so by making a gift before June 30. Reflecting on this month of incredible activity, it is evident that through our shared commitment to Drake University, we are truly making a difference in the lives of so many. I thank you once again for your partnership.
President, Drake University