For the Love of Discovery

John and Donna Cleasby

John (Jack) L. and Donna Cleasby

One lesson John (Jack) L. Cleasby learned in his years of teaching is that given enough support, graduate students can be one of the most valuable resources for innovation in a field.

For most of his career in the department of civil, construction and environmental engineering, Cleasby taught courses for students seeking graduate degrees in environmental engineering. His graduate students assisted with his research work in water and wastewater treatment, and he directed their thesis research projects.

"Back then, it was so helpful when Dr. E. Robert Baumann (leader of environmental engineering) was able to allocate state funds he had obtained to support one or two of my graduate students per year," he explained. "It meant I could turn good students loose to choose their own research topics, which led us down different paths of research I never would have pursued otherwise."

When he retired after 40 years of teaching and research, Cleasby had attained tremendous respect in his field: He was honored as an Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in the College of Engineering and elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He had also developed a lifelong connection with the university; not only did he spend almost his entire career here and help launch the careers of hundreds of environmental engineering professionals, he also earned a Ph.D. from Iowa State in 1960.

It was the type of relationship that made Cleasby look for ways to give back and create a legacy that would ensure the future excellence of his department and his field. For him, the obvious place to direct his giving was graduate support. "I realized many of the experiences I had during my career, and the support to pursue new ideas, are getting harder and harder to come by," he said. "These days, professors everywhere must seek funding from all possible sources and usually must define the specific topics and approach to the research. This doesn't leave any room for the students to pursue what interests them."

When exploring the best ways to create a graduate fellowship and maximize its impact, Cleasby sought the advice of the Iowa State University Foundation planned giving team. "I learned that changing the beneficiary designation on our IRA account to the university provided a tax-free solution," he said. Along with leaving his IRA account to the university, Cleasby and his wife, Donna, decided to make annual charitable distributions from his IRA to establish the Cleasby Environmental Graduate Fellowship in their lifetimes.

"The purpose of this fellowship is to have money available that one of the current faculty members can use to support a student and tell them, ‘Pick a topic and make a proposal for what you want to do.' I know that freedom is very beneficial and leads to the greatest possible outcomes for both student and faculty," said Cleasby. "It's gratifying seeing graduate students benefit from the support now, while also knowing the estate gift will ensure the future of the fellowship after we're gone. I'd think this would be truly an ideal situation for anyone with charitable intent."

"I had a long and fruitful time at Iowa State," said Cleasby. "I have fond feelings about the people I worked with and students I taught. It's nice to find a way to honor that time in my life."

Be Part of Iowa State's Future

You, too, can have a stake in Iowa State University's future with an estate gift. Your support equips students to become the leaders and critical thinkers of tomorrow. Contact the office of gift planning at 800.621.8515 or giftplanning@foundation.iastate.edu to explore the gift option that is right for you.

“I thought about what meant the most to me – outside of my family – and it was obvious that I would give to Iowa State. So I called the office of gift planning and they helped me plan the best course of action.”

- Margaret "Margi" Donaldson

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Iowa State University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Iowa State University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at Ames, Iowa, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Iowa State or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Iowa State as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Iowa State as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Iowa State where you agree to make a gift to Iowa State and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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