"Contributing to the Parents Fund and taking an active role in the Parents Association seemed like a natural extension..."

For Iowa Hawkeye football fans, Mark Abbott’s voice is a familiar one—he’s the announcer for the games at Kinnick Stadium. But he and his wife, Mary Jo, have another important role as a voice for UI parents and their children.

Mark and Mary Jo, whose daughter, Leslie, is a UI senior majoring in Spanish and elementary and secondary education, are contributors to the Parents Fund for Student Support, which provides resources for vital student-centered projects throughout campus.

They are also members of the Parents Association’s board of directors, helping to guide the group’s work on behalf of other UI parents.

“All UI parents are automatically members of the Parents Association,” Mark points out. “We help the UI provide safe and fun activities and programs that go beyond what the UI itself is able to do, especially in these tight budget times.”

The Parents Fund for Student Support is instrumental in enabling those efforts.

“The board directs Parents Fund resources toward programs that we think will have maximum positive impact on students’ lives,” Mary Jo says. “Often, initiatives need seed money to give them the chance to prove themselves. Other times, programs are well established and we want to see them continue.”

Mary Jo, who earned a B.S. degree in pharmacy from the UI in 1971 and works as a pharmacist at UI Hospitals and Clinics, and Mark, a 1973 UI law graduate who works as an assistant to the director of athletics at the UI, like to be involved in the lives of their children and the University.

“We learned a lot from the UI. We believe in being advocates for the University,” Mark says. “And we were always involved in our kids’ activities in high school, so contributing to the Parents Fund and taking an active role in the Parents Association seemed like a natural extension of that.

“It’s an easy and effective way to help students have the best possible UI experience.”