While Nancy (77BA, 80JD) and Craig (75JD) Willis have practiced law for more than three decades, their avocation is community service. Deeply committed to two cornerstones of the University of Iowa's mission—health care and the arts—the Willises have transformed the campus and surrounding community through their involvement.
The real estate attorneys, who recently merged their Willis & Willis law firm and Security Abstract Company with Meardon, Sueppel & Downer law firm in Iowa City, are particularly passionate about ensuring a vibrant future for the UI Stanley Museum of Art. They have lent their unwavering support and wise counsel to help the museum establish a new permanent home following the 2008 flood. As members of the Stanley Museum of Art's Elliott Society, the Willises have exhibited leadership on the museum's Members Council and the advisory, green campaign, envisioning, and building campaign committees.
"Iowa City is a significantly better place because of their generosity and commitment to both our community and our university."
The couple's faithful service to the university extends to areas such as Hancher, Iowa Writers' Workshop, and several university presidential and dean search committees. Since 1992, Nancy has brought her keen business sense and fundraising expertise to the UI Foundation Board, including as part of the development committee and For Iowa. Forever More. campaign cabinet. The couple also belongs to Friends of UI Health Care, a volunteer group dedicated to providing greater access to health care, where Craig serves on the leadership council.
Beyond campus, the Willises have joined the board of directors for many local organizations, including the Iowa City Community School District, Iowa City Public Library Foundation, Iowa City Parks and Recreation Commission, Iowa City Hospice, Johnson County United Way, and UNESCO City of Literature. They also have made significant contributions to area arts organizations and received many volunteerism awards over the years.
As Cathy Zaharis (82BBA), chair of the UI Center for Advancement board of directors, says, "Iowa City is a significantly better place because of their generosity and commitment to both our community and our university."
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.