Since its founding as the Iowa State Normal School in 1876, the University of Northern Iowa has constantly evolved to meet the needs of the community, state of Iowa and beyond. Now, the university is calling on alumni and friends to give toward the largest fundraising campaign in the university’s 146-year history to build the UNI tomorrow needs.
The university officially launched Our Tomorrow: The Campaign for UNI with a campus celebration Friday, Oct. 7. Through the $250 million comprehensive campaign, donors are able to invest in all areas of the university. More than $187 million, or 75% of the funding goal, has been raised to date from 25,000 donors. The university hopes to secure the remaining funding by its sesquicentennial in 2026.
“This ambitious and historic campaign will lay the foundation for the future of this institution,” said UNI President Mark Nook. “Through investments in our students, faculty and staff, our academic programs and learning spaces, we are ensuring the promise and power of a UNI education not just for students today, but for the generations to come. We’re grateful to our incredible alumni and friends who have stepped up to support this campaign and we’re looking forward to getting others involved.”
While Our Tomorrow publicly launched on Oct. 7, generous contributions have been making an impact at UNI throughout the quiet phase of the campaign. A total of $187,573,231 has been raised as of Oct. 7 from 24,843 unique donors. More than a third of these donors (9,201) are first-time supporters of UNI.
“There is a momentum at UNI, and the enormous support already for Our Tomorrow from alumni and friends speaks volumes,” said Katie Mulholland, a three-time graduate of UNI (1969, 1980 and 1989) and co-chair of the campaign alongside David Takes, a 1981 UNI alumnus. “Those of us who’ve experienced this wonderful university know firsthand the value of UNI for the future of our state, and we’re stepping up to ensure a strong legacy for the decades to come.”
“I’ve never had to sell anyone on the University of Northern Iowa,” said Takes, campaign co-chair. “Like so many who’ve graduated from UNI, this university made an enormous impact on my life, and I’m honored to play a role as we once again commit to preserving and expanding the quality of opportunities at UNI — tomorrow, the next day, and the next, for future generations of UNI students from all walks of life.”
The Our Tomorrow campaign is organized around four strategic pillars: student access and success, engaged learning, academic programs and faculty, and iconic spaces. More information can be found on campaign priorities at ourtomorrow.uni.edu.
Direct investments in students are the heart of the campaign, with a goal of creating a path to opportunity for many more students. A total of 361 new scholarships have been established thus far through Our Tomorrow. By 2026, the university hopes to have raised over $70 million for scholarships.
Putting students’ skills and knowledge to work to make a difference today has been an important piece of a UNI education. The Our Tomorrow campaign will support initiatives that enhance student professional and career readiness, provide service learning and community engagement opportunities and advance diversity, equity and inclusion on our campus and in the community.
Since its founding, UNI has adapted to meet the needs of the Cedar Valley, state and the country. Investments in innovative and transformative programs will power UNI’s enduring spirit of innovation. Direct support for faculty will ensure UNI continues to recruit and retain teacher-scholars who make the university and its students successful.
Our Tomorrow is the Panther community’s opportunity to renew the hallmarks of our shared UNI experience. Campaigns for the Campanile, the Gallagher Bluedorn and UNI-Dome will revitalize these spaces for the decades to come. Over Homecoming weekend, UNI officially began a $2.2 million renovation of the Campanile. A mobile foundry hosted on campus during the weekend cast seven new bells for the Campanile, part of a series of upgrades to the campus icon. Fundraising for the $14.9 million Gallagher Bluedorn renovation began in 2018 and construction is slated to begin in 2023. A $50 million campaign to support a renovation of the UNI-Dome publicly launched Homecoming weekend as well.
Two of these campus landmarks will celebrate milestones in 2026; the year marks the Campanile’s 100th anniversary, and 50 years of the UNI-Dome.
The public attended the Our Tomorrow Celebration and Concert Friday, Oct. 7 on the Campanile plaza. Food trucks and a beer and wine garden were available from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. with games, exclusive giveaways and a display of seven new bells cast for UNI's Campanile. The program and concert began at 7 p.m. featuring Tony-nominated Michael Cavanaugh, who was made famous for his piano and lead vocals in the starring role of the Broadway Musical "Movin' Out." Special guests for the evening included Nook, Mulholland and Takes along with Kurt and Brenda Warner, Jim Jermier, Jeremy Schraffenberger, Sandy Phillips Stevens, Angela Weekley and Gina Weekley.
More information about the Our Tomorrow campaign can be found at ourtomorrow.uni.edu.