John W. Buchanan, 56BSC, and Ellen Hasse Buchanan, 77SE, have had an enormous impact on students and faculty at the University of Iowa. Their contributions of time, leadership, and resources have benefited the university and the entire Iowa City area.
In 1963, John co-founded the Iowa City-based insurance firm of Riepe, Buchanan & Piper, which later merged with the Marsh & McLennan Companies and now operates nationally under the name Seabury & Smith. A retired executive with the firm, John is an adjunct professor at the UI's Entrepreneurial Institute. According to evaluations forms completed by students at the end of each semester, John is a personable and enthusiastic teacher, consistently ranking in the top ten percent of the business faculty. In 1989, Buchanan was one of only 20 U.S. entrepreneurs to be selected to participate in the Price-Babson Fellowship Program at Babson College in Massachusetts, and in 1994 he received the program's Appel Prize for Leadership in Entrepreneurial Centers.
Ellen, who received a B.A. in radio and television from the University of South Dakota, served as public service director for four years for local radio station KCJJ, when she first reviewed children's books and later hosted a talk show. She received a 1995 Irving Weber Award from the Johnson County Historical Society for producing and hosting Tell Me Your Story and One of a Kind, two television interview series for the Iowa City Public Library channel. Ellen is past president and a longtime member of the Iowa City Public Library's Board of Trustees, and she currently serves on the UI School of Religion Board of Fellows.
The Buchanan's have displayed steady and substantial support of the arts at the UI. In addition to their generous gifts supporting Hancher Auditorium's programming and activities, Ellen has served as the Hancher Guild representative on the auditorium's advisory committee, while John was a vice chair of OVATION! -The campaign to renovate Hancher.
The university's nationally recognized healthcare programs have also benefited fron the Buchanan's caring involvement. Ellen served as co-chair of Emerald Fest, the tenth anniversary celebration of the Ronald McDonald House. Both Ellen and John have been active members of the Friends of UI Hospitals and Clinics and have financially contributed to the College of Medicine.
Perhaps the most visible sign of the Buchanan's' commitment to the university is through the College of Business Administration. When the campaign to finance the Pappajohn Business Administration Building was announced, John and Ellen stepped forward with the generous gift toward development of the 400-seat auditorium that now bears their name. Their gift made it possible to equip the auditorium with the latest audiovisual technology, creating a state-of-the-art lecture hall for both business and liberal arts classes, as well as for many other community purposes.
In addition to their consistent financial support of the UI's athletic programs, the Buchanans provide annual UI scholarships in religion, business, medicine, and the arts.
John and Ellen are also well known to the Iowa City community for their leadership in providing a high-level gift as a challenge match on behalf of the Iowa City Public Library. In recognition of their admirable history of service, John and Ellen were named "Outstanding Philanthropists" by the Eastern Iowa Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives.
The Buchanan's are life members of the Alumni Association and members of the Foundation's Presidents Club. John is a member of the College of Medicine Dean's Club, and they are both members of the College of Liberal Arts and College of Business Administration dean's clubs.