Iowa College Foundation


Making the Partnership Work for More Than 60 Years

Over sixty years ago, a group of businesses in the Iowa Manufacturers Association got together to discuss the need to create a foundation to support the role of independent higher education. A couple of other states were having the same discussions.

In the spring of 1952, with the strong encouragement from the Iowa Manufacturers Association, 18 private college presidents from Iowa gathered at Drake University President Henry Harmon’s office to form a committee that would draft a preliminary constitution that would be modeled after a similar document from the Associated Colleges of Indiana. Three presidents were given the task of drafting the preliminary constitution. They were President Samuel Stevens from Grinnell College, President Russell Cole from Cornell College, and President G.T. Vander Lugt from Central College. It was difficult to tell which of the two organizations was being called to order, as the business leaders involved in both ICF and IMA were nearly the same.

On September 19, 1952, the Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws of the Iowa College Foundation were adopted by the presidents of eighteen (18) liberal arts colleges. The original colleges were Briar Cliff College, Buena Vista College, Central College, Clarke University, Cornell College, Grinnell College, Iowa Wesleyan College, Loras College, Luther College, Morningside College, Parsons College, St. Ambrose College, Simpson College, University of Dubuque, Upper Iowa University, Wartburg College, Westmar College and William Penn College. After Marycrest College separated from St. Ambrose College later that year, it applied for membership in the Foundation and was accepted as the 19th member institution. Coe College and Drake University respectively declined invitations to join at that time. Within the next 20 years, the following seven colleges were added: Dordt College, Graceland College, Mount Mercy University, Mount St. Clare College, Northwestern College, Ottumwa Heights College and Waldorf College. Parsons College, an original charter member, withdrew from membership after entering bankruptcy. Ottumwa Heights College resigned membership years later after it merged with Indian Hills Community College. In the early ’80s, Coe College, Grand View College and Drake University joined ICF. In the late ’90s, Marycrest College and Westmar College ceased operations and were dropped from membership. The Franciscan University (formerly Mount St. Clare College) and Waldorf College were purchased by “for-profit” companies in 2005 and 2009, respectively, and were dropped from membership, bringing the total current ICF roster to 23 institutions.

In 1952-1953, ICF received $53,520 from 40 corporate donors. In its second year, ICF received 10 more gifts but total dollars dropped to $52,259. To counter this trend, ICF hired its first director and opened an office at Grinnell College through the courtesy of the college. The following year, 1954-1955, 116 contributors gave $90,691 to ICF. In 1957, ICF moved its offices to Des Moines and continued to see its contributions and number of supporters grow. In 2008-2009, ICF raised $3.2 million from nearly 900 donors. Five of the original 40 donors from that first year still donate today!

Since its founding year, ICF has raised nearly 70 million for its 23 member colleges and universities! The average amount of money distributed to its member institutions has grown from $2,973 in 1952-53 to a current amount of $87,263. All 23 member institutions have received more than $1 million in cumulative gifts from ICF, 17 institutions have received more than $2 million, and 5 have received over $3 million. ICF's impact on member colleges and universities over the years has been remarkable!