$3.655 million gift expands teacher education at UNI

Posted on Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Lisa Baronio, vice president, University Advancement, 319-273-2487,

Victoria Robinson, interim dean and professor, College of Education, 319-273-3070,

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- A gift of $3.655 million from the Gerdin family will support the renovation of Schindler Education Center, the focal point of teacher education, at the University of Northern Iowa.

"Our family is pleased to be able to support the Schindler Education Center renovation project," said Julie Durr, a UNI alumna and spokesperson for the family. "UNI is nationally known for its outstanding teacher education program. We wanted to make sure this facility reflects the high quality learning that takes place inside the building."

"The University of Northern Iowa has the proud distinction of leading Iowa's number one teacher education program," said UNI President Bill Ruud. "Our College of Education is doing more than teaching tomorrow's educators, administrators and health specialists. Nearly 32 percent of teachers and 37 percent of school administrators in Iowa are UNI graduates. This gift from the Gerdin family means that we can continue to prepare hundreds of tomorrow's leaders to affect change in schools, communities and businesses around the world."

Renovations will feature spaces and furnishings that are flexible, such as the central learning commons area where students will be able to engage in diverse learning activities like group presentations. Lecture halls will be transitioned into collaborative, interactive learning spaces. Obsolete computer labs will be replaced by classrooms that use integrated technology. The new design will also create classroom simulation spaces in which teacher candidates can model instructional methods in learning environments similar to those that are currently used in kindergarten through high school settings. 

Renovations will also include replacement of exterior windows and the installation of new interior windows, which will provide credit toward LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) gold certification. In addition, an outdoor plaza will feature a green roof that will serve as a learning center for future teachers.

"School facilities must move from traditional classrooms where students are information receivers to facilities that encourage active learning," said Victoria Robinson, interim dean of the College of Education. "This shift from teacher-centered instruction to student-centered learning brings about the need for flexible education facilities. This generous gift will strengthen the program and help us prepare highly effective teachers, principals and superintendents."

The Gerdin gift was made to the University of Northern Iowa through the UNI Foundation. For more information about the UNI Foundation, visit