- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa’s governing board renamed the school’s 96-year-old children’s hospital Wednesday to honor a top donor who played a key role in the recent presidential search, a change that was unveiled and approved within hours.

University officials asked the Board of Regents on Wednesday to rename the UI Children’s Hospital the “Stead Family University of Iowa Children’s Hospital” after businessman Jerre Stead and his wife, Mary Joy. Four hours later, the board voted 9-0 to approve the plan, after hearing no public input on a change affecting an institution that has treated generations of Iowa children.

The regents had no discussion on the name change, which will take effect when the new $360 million, 14-story children’s hospital is dedicated in November 2016. The UI Children’s Hospital traces its history in Iowa City to 1919.

After the meeting, board president Bruce Rastetter told reporters the plan had been in the works for weeks but wasn’t announced until Wednesday at the request of the UI Foundation, the university’s fundraising arm. He said the renaming was appropriate to honor the Steads for their “remarkable” philanthropy.

“It’s something that we should certainly celebrate, recognize,” he said.



Maquoketa natives who graduated from the university, the Steads have pledged $53.9 million to it to support children’s medicine and the College of Business.

The Scottsdale, Arizona, residents are co-chairs of a major fundraising campaign for UI Health Care. The school named its department of pediatrics for the family in 2013 in honor of its $20 million in commitments. Since then, the couple has pledged another $5 million for children’s medicine, the UI Foundation says.

Jerre Stead, a corporate turnaround specialist known for successfully leading high-tech companies, is chairman and CEO of IHS, a Colorado-based provider of business information.

He was part of the search committee that recruited former IBM executive Bruce Harreld for the university presidency. The regents in September hired Harreld, who had no prior higher education administration experience but has called Stead a mentor in business. Stead has been an outspoken supporter of Harreld’s hiring, which was widely condemned by faculty, staff and student leaders for both the process and the outcome.

Some critics have complained that Stead’s donations and ties to Harreld gave him too much influence. Stead had known Harreld in business since the 1990s, when Stead was CEO of the National Cash Register Co. In that role, he had a business relationship with Harreld when Harreld was part of the team building the restaurant chain that would become Boston Market.

Jean Robillard, the UI vice president of medical affairs, was the leader of the search committee and served as interim president before Harreld’s hiring. He has also pushed for the state-of-the-art children’s hospital, which has ballooned in cost due to design changes and construction delays. In September, the regents increased the project budget by $69 million. It is being funded by bonds, income from patients and private gifts.

On Wednesday, Robillard told the regents that the Steads’ gifts were transformative and are enabling medical research and education that will help children worldwide.

“Their commitment to the university is without boundaries,” he said.

Unlike the renaming plan, other proposals on the board’s agenda Wednesday were released publicly two weeks ago. Board spokesman Josh Lehman, the agency’s designated “transparency officer,” said Tuesday the board was complying with the open meetings law by noting on its agenda that regents would consider naming a UI facility but giving no further details. Some university building naming decisions have been handled that way in the past.

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