On a cold, snowy day in early January, more than 200 Drake alumni and friends gathered for an alumni event at Principal's renovated headquarters in downtown Des Moines. The remarkable evening was a celebration of Drake's strong connections to Des Moines, the business community, and the world. We were fortunate to host a delegation from Iowa's sister state of Kosovo and to recognize our partnership with that nation during the evening's program.
The alumni event was also a reflection of the value of Drake's leadership in the city and beyond. More than 20,000 Drake alumni live and work in central Iowa, and they contribute nearly $2 billion to the regional economy each year. Drake alumni add to the vitality of Des Moines in ways big and small, as do our faculty, students, and staff.
As an institution, we are committed to using our resources to improve our community. During the January board weekend, the Board of Trustees approved the timeline for the Gregory and Suzie Glazer Burt Boys and Girls Club. Construction of the Burt Club on Drake's campus will begin in the spring and be completed by summer 2019.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Iowa (BGCCI) offers a supportive environment for children and teens outside of school hours with activities ranging from homework assistance and mentoring, to arts and crafts and sports. The Burt Club will serve up to 225 neighborhood children—kids who will grow up thinking of Drake as their university. I'm excited about the potential and promise this growing relationship with BGCCI holds.
Speaking of athletics, I hope you are following the women's and men's basketball teams this year. The women's team is now an impressive 13-0 in conference play. The men's team is also having a strong season under new head coach Niko Medved. In early February, senior Reed Timmer became Drake's all-time leading scorer for men's basketball. (Reed, a pharmacy major, is also a two-time recipient of the Missouri Valley Conference's Scholar-Athlete of the Year award!) It's been fun cheering for both of these teams as they play in front of energetic crowds at the Knapp Center.
The women’s team is now an impressive 13-0 in conference play.
On a personal note, I'm grateful for how enthusiastically the Des Moines community has embraced Laura and me since our move. I share what initially excited me about Iowa and my journey to Drake in this dsm magazine article. One of the things I enjoy the most about being in Des Moines is the fact that it is a "can-do" community. It imagines big things and then goes and gets them done—just like our university.
Finally, allow me to thank you for your continued support of Drake University. Your leadership-level giving provides our alumni and friends with a powerful example—one I hope you'll encourage others to follow. You have invested in Drake at an important and valuable moment for the university. We could not sustain our community outreach and deliver exceptional opportunities for our students without your engagement and commitment.