Distinguished Alumni Award


Richard O. Jacobson

Friend Award 2000

Richard O. Jacobson, a former student at the UI's business college, is president of the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation in Des Moines. His support and continuing involvement have helped the University of Iowa press ahead toward ambitious goals and high-quality programs.

In 1968, Jacobson founded Jacobson Companies, a warehouse company with six employees, and he guided the development of the firm until it now employs more than 1,000 people in transportation, investment management, and warehousing. Thanks to Jacobson's hard work and exceptional leadership, the Jacobson Companies have adopted principles of continuous improvement to ensure the highest degree of customer satisfaction, as well as employee performance and loyalty.

A true philanthropist who is eager to share his success with many worthy beneficiaries, Jacobson has provided generous support to Hawkeye athletics and to the Henry B. Tippie College of Business. He first became involved with Iowa athletics in 1973 as a member of a local I-Club, and his annual gifts have grown steadily. In 1993, he pledged $1 million to the Hawkeye Horizons Campaign, an extraordinary contribution recognized by the naming of a new football facility in his honor, the Richard O. Jacobson Athletic Building. In 1997, Jacobson became an honorary letterman of the National Iowa Varsity Club in recognition of his commitment to UI sports.

Jacobson has been quick to provide gifts to other Iowa programs, too. In 1996, his annual gifts qualified him as a member of the Henry B. Tippie College of Business's Dean's Club, and in 1997 he was appointed to the Henry B. Tippie College of Business's Board of Visitors. In addition, his company is recognized by the UI Foundation as a Presidents Club Associate, the highest honor club for contributors to all areas of the university.

Jacobson's public-spirited generosity extends beyond the university to embrace the larger community, with support to Youth and Shelter Services, the Rock in Prevention substance abuse program, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and Youth Homes of MidAmerica. He also works for Orchard Place, a home for children with extreme emotional disturbances. Most notably, as cofounder of the I Have A Dream Foundation, Jacobson provides hope to disadvantaged schoolchildren. His organization not only pairs them with mentors to help them make it to high school graduation, but also guarantees those high school graduates a fully funded college education at the school of their choice, in any field, for as many years as they need to pursue their degrees. So far, the I Have A Dream Foundation has found mentors for 49 children from the most impoverished neighborhoods of Des Moines.

Jacobson has been named Outstanding Individual Philanthropist by the National Society of Fund Raising Executives in Central Iowa, Humanitarian of the Year by the Variety Club of Iowa, and Outstanding Philanthropist by Youth and Shelter Services.

Jacobson is a member of the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.


About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.


UI Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony

Friday, October 28, 2022
3 p.m. CDT

Levitt Center for University Advancement

Join us in celebrating the 2022 recipients. This event is part of Iowa's 2022 Homecoming festivities and is open to the public.


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With the start of a new year upon us, it's time to look back at your favorite University of Iowa stories from 2018. Here are Iowa Magazine's top 10 most-read articles of the year: The Nomadic Life (spring 2018) Hawkeye football favorite Paki O'Meara (10BA) finds ultimate freedom in backpacking around the world, taking photos that inspire a sense of wonder. PHOTO COURTESY PAKI O'MEARA Kinnick at 100 (summer 2018) This past summer marked two historically significant dates for Hawkeye fans: the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nile Kinnick (40BA), and the 75th anniversary of his tragic death. In memory of Iowa's favorite son, scholar, and Ironman, we look back on his life and legacy. Ahead of the Game (spring 2018) The Iowa football team becomes the first in the nation to equip the majority of its players with a state-of-the-art new helmet designed to improve player safety. PHOTO: MARK STASTNY Hollywood U (fall 2018) Alumni success in TV and film shines the spotlight on Iowa's? flourishing screenwriting program. ILLUSTRATION: FABIEN GILBERT / ARTISTIQUE INTERNATIONAL Mountain Roots (spring 2018) Nearly 80 years ago, an unlikely UI mountain-climbing club emerged from the cornfields of Iowa to become one of the most active in the world. Now the next generation of outdoorsmen continue in their Hawkeye family's footsteps. PHOTO COURTESY EBERT FAMILY The Secrets of Sleep (fall 2018) UI doctors and researchers work to shine light on the third of our lives we spend in the dark. Illustration: John Emigh Fry's Dream Team (fall 2018) FRYFest honors Hayden Fry's legendary 1983 coaching tree. PHOTO: UI ATHLETICS Going the Distance (spring 2018) UI-trained dentist Deb Carneol (92DDS) completes seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. PHOTO: MARK CONLON/WORLDMARATHONCHALLENGE.COM At 105, Our Oldest Hawkeye? (spring 2018) Catherine Shaw Shors (35BSC), who earned her business degree from Iowa more than eight decades ago, celebrated a milestone birthday in May. 1936 HAWKEYE YEARBOOK A Heroic Homecoming (spring 2018) Avengers: Infinity War director Joe Russo (92BA) receives a superhero's welcome at his alma mater. PHOTOS: Justin Torner

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