Transforming Ideas Into Opportunities

Richard and Sharon RodineYou can never underestimate where sharing an idea might lead," said Sharon Rodine.

Working in Washington, D.C., to recruit and train women for public office, it was after traveling to an event in Tennessee that she fully realized the impact of Carrie Chapman Catt, another Iowa State alumna. Sharon was attending a celebration honoring the passage of the 19th Amendment, as Tennessee's vote was the final one needed, and the program championed Catt as an important leader of the movement.

"I remember wondering why I had never heard about Carrie Chapman Catt when I was a student!" she said. "It revealed to me the need for more political leadership, education and engagement opportunities at Iowa State — and it was the perfect way to honor her legacy."

So Sharon wrote to then-President Jischke, outlining her idea — to create a center that would provide political leadership development, foster research and provide opportunities for civic engagement. Soon enough, her ideas started coming to fruition with assistance from Iowa State University Foundation staff. "The timing was right," she said. "The next thing I knew, we became lead donors."

Making the Impossible Possible

Richard and Sharon Rodine were in their early 40s and raising young children at the time, and it didn't seem feasible to give that level of support. That's when they were introduced to planned giving.

"The Iowa State University Foundation was helpful in exploring ways we could make a significant gift at that point in our lives," said Richard. "We were excited to find a way to create an impact gift and still manage the financial responsibilities of a career and growing family. Our planned gift turned out to be a great option because we have been able to shape our giving and legacy through the years as the needs of Iowa State changed and new options for support emerged."

And build their legacy they did. In the years since, the couple added an endowed scholarship and internship in the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, and funded a landscaping project for the Plaza of Heroines. Most recently, they created a study-abroad scholarship in the College of Design to support a student majoring in community and regional planning.

"The foundation was very supportive in helping us figure out next steps over the years. We were able to restructure and add things to support both of our colleges," said Richard. "Working with the foundation is a great tool to match opportunities, interests and needs, so we can support special projects as they are identified. Our estate plan is a work in progress, but in a wonderful way."

A Growing Connection to Iowa State

Yet the Rodines' giving is more than financial — their philanthropy has always included volunteering their time. It began when they were students at Iowa State and were active in campus activities. Richard served on the VEISHEA central committee in 1972.

"I remember being invited to lunch at the Knoll, where President Parks talked to us about how we could keep giving back to the university as alumni, and that some of us could possibly become members of the Order of the Knoll in the future," he said. "It sounded crazy to think of it then, as a junior in college, but it provided a spark and created a goal."

Sharon has served as a governor and on various committees for the foundation. "We've always enjoyed these opportunities," she said. "It keeps you energized and allows you to continue to grow your relationships with the university." For Richard, who now serves on the dean's advisory council in the College of Design for the Forever True, For Iowa State campaign, it can be an opportunity to almost relive treasured moments on campus.

"Attending Iowa State was such a good experience, and you miss it as an alumnus," said Richard. "Giving back allows you to re-create that period of time on campus by getting connected with the faculty and students in a new, fun way."

A Brighter Future Starts With You

Regardless of your age or income, you can help shape the future of Iowa State. Contact the office of gift planning at 800.621.8515 or to discover simple ways to create a lasting impact at the university.