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$28 million gift from Greg Johansen for new student center
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$28 million gift from Greg Johansen for new student center

Drake University has received the largest single-donor donation in the institution’s history as part of the college’s major The Ones campaign.

Greg Johansen, a prominent central Iowa resident, leader and alumni of the Drake pharmacy program, donated $28 million to revitalize former dorm Morehouse Hall, 2803 University Ave., which will become a student center with dedicated intercultural space. It will be called the Johansen Student Center after the historic donation.

“We are truly honored and thankful for the Johansens’ visionary support and commitment to advancing our mission,” Drake University President Marty Martin said in a statement. “Greg’s generous commitment is an expression of his unwavering confidence in the power of the Drake Experience and will play a pivotal role in driving progress and transformation across our institution.”

Drake University Board of Trustees member Greg Johansen speaks during a donation announcement at Cowles Library on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Des Moines.

Johansen has a long history with Drake, first as a 1976 graduate of the Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He has received the Lawrence C. and Delores M. Weaver Medal of Honor and a Distinguished Alumni award. He serves on the college’s Board of Trustees and is a senior advisor for GRX Holdings LLC, which owns and operates several Medicap Pharmacy locations.

“I believe in the mission of the college and that the students and graduates will do great things in the future,” Johansen said at a news conference announcing the donation.

“This gift commitment is a statement of gratitude to Drake University for the education I received here beginning more than 50 years ago,” he said. “The opportunity I was given to receive a Drake education was a gift to me and now I am here to return the favor.”

The Johansen Student Center will be a student hub that will offer the campus’ first dedicated space for students from diverse populations, both domestic and international, that “is welcoming and supportive of them,” Martin previously said. In February 2023, Sammons Financial Group committed $3.15 million to create the Sammons Intercultural Center and an outdoor area called the Sammons Plaza at the student center.

Construction is expected to wrap up in January.

“It will provide an incredible foundation of support,” Drake student body president Ashley Dyson said. “It will give the opportunity to find a sense of belonging to evolve in organizations and causes.”

Drake University Board of Trustees member Greg Johansen sits in the audience next to his wife, Cecelia, right, during a donation announcement at Cowles Library on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Des Moines.

The Johansens’ donation also will go toward the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, John D. Bright College, Drake Athletics with an emphasis on women’s basketball, sustainability efforts, including the installation of solar panels on the recently restored Meredith Hall, and The Drake Fund.

The Ones: Drake’s Campaign for the Brave and Bold campaign launched in 2021 with a goal to raise $225 million that, among other goals, would expand its rural outreach, prepare more women and people of color for tech jobs and build a new university center and performing arts venue.

“We said that our ambitious goal was a three-year sprint to $225 million,” Drake vice president John Smith said. “Well, since our last campaign announcement, through the support of many others, we are very excited to announce that the (total) is now at $247 million.”


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