William Phelan has played a vital, though often behind-the-scenes, role for the University of Iowa for many years, inspiring confidence, offering wise counsel to its leaders, and lending a hand to make the university the best it can be.
As legal counsel to the UI Foundation since 1963, Phelan has worked side by side with the UI Foundation board of directors and staff. A supporter of the university both professionally and privately, Phelan has taken time away from his role as partner with the Iowa City law firm of Phelan, Tucker, Mullen, Walker, Tucker & Gelman to regularly serve as a lecturer in the UI College of Law, where he taught courses in estate planning; probate practice; and income, estate, and gift taxes, state and local taxation from 1955 to 1991.
He assisted in organizing the universitys Oakdale Research Park Corporation and served as a member of its board of directors from the time of its organization until 2004. He has served as a director of the Musser-Davis Land Company since it became wholly owned by the university until 2004. It goes without saying that the UI Foundation board and staff, members of the university administration, and the university community as a whole have great confidence in Phelan and have benefited enormously from his perspective.
Phelan has provided annual support to the University of Iowa for 41 years and has been recognized for his generous giving to the university as a Presidents Club member. He is also a member of the University of Iowa Alumni Association, emeritus member of the Friends of the Library advisory board, emeritus member of the Museum of Art Friends Development Council, and a Hancher Gold Circle member. In his longtime role as legal counsel for the UI Foundation, he has assisted the staff in raising millions of dollars through the planning and legal considerations of numerous major gifts.
He has participated in UI Alumni Association and Presidents Club tours and donated artwork to the Levitt Center for University Advancement. His interests are varied but, true to the UI spirit, he has cheered on the Hawkeyes as a season ticket holder for multiple sports.
Beyond this, Phelan is a true friend to Iowa City, the state of Iowa, and the legal profession. He is renowned as one of the best planned giving attorneys in the country, and he was listed in the initial publication in 1983 and annually thereafter in the prestigious Best Lawyers In America, recognized specifically for excelling in the areas of trusts and estates. He is a member of the Johnson County, Iowa State, and American Bar Associations, serving one term as president of the county association, and serving as member and chairman of the state associations tax committee for several years.
A good citizen, Phelan served the Iowa City Community School District for six years as a director, with one term as president. In addition, he served as a director of the Mercy Hospital Foundation and as a member of the Advisory Board for Mercy Hospital in Iowa City. One of the universitys most passionate advocates, he is truly deserving of the UIAA Distinguished Friend of the University Award.