Drake University announces $3.15 million philanthropic commitment from Sammons Financial Group

The gift will support the construction of an Intercultural Center, priority scholarships 

West Des Moines, Iowa – February 23, 2023 –Drake University announced today that Sammons Financial Group® has committed $3.15 million to Drake to support the development of the Sammons Intercultural Center and Sammons Plaza, along with support for two scholarship funds that will create a total of 14 endowed scholarships.

Beginning in 2024, Drake will use $1.75 million of the Sammons Financial Group gift to renovate and revitalize one of its most beautiful and historic buildings—Morehouse Hall. The 1930’s building will be transformed from a classic residence hall to a dynamic student center that will be home to Drake’s first dedicated intercultural space. Roughly $1 million of this gift will support the Sammons Intercultural Center, which includes 2,700 square feet dedicated to celebrating diversity through student-centric community programming. ​​Another $750,000 will support the creation of a student-centered community outdoor area to be known as Sammons Plaza that will be developed adjacent to the center. Sammons Plaza will be a place for the Drake community to build relationships that are central to the university experience and that will propel graduates into the world. The investment in this project reflects Sammons’ deep commitment to diversity and the Drake student body as a whole.

“We are proud to further strengthen our relationship with Drake and help support the creation of a dedicated space for the campus’ many multicultural organizations with our gift, which is centered around workforce development, D&I initiatives, and increasing community and campus engagement,” said Esfand Dinshaw, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Sammons Financial Group and Drake alumnus. “Sammons Financial Group and Drake University have enjoyed a supportive, long-term relationship. As a financial services leader in the Des Moines area, it is incumbent upon our company to do all we can to invest in the next generation of business leaders.”

“I cannot wait to see how this space will transform our campus community,” said Drake University President Marty Martin. “We are incredibly grateful to have such strong relationships with central Iowa businesses like Sammons Financial Group, who continue to invest in the advancement of Drake. Current Drake students and those who are still to come will deeply benefit from Sammons Financial Group’s impactful gift and continued generosity.”  

The financial services company’s gift will also allow for the continued expansion of two scholarship programs that were announced as priorities with the launch of Drake’s comprehensive campaign, The Ones: Drake’s Campaign for the Brave & Bold—the Sammons Financial Group Changemaker Scholarship and the Sammons Financial Group Inclusive Scholars of Digital Proficiency Scholarship.  

​​​Built upon the principles of leadership, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility, the Sammons Financial Group Changemaker Scholarships’ four-year academic and business engagement program will help cultivate students’ experience and understanding of solving societal challenges through mission-driven for-profit work. Changemaker Scholars will receive hands-on learning experiences with start-ups and corporations, tailored development tracks in entrepreneurism and leadership, and opportunities to use the power of free enterprise to make positive changes in the world—from neighborhoods to nations and everywhere in between. 

Each endowed Changemaker scholarship will be funded through an investment of $100,000 and students receiving those awards will pursue degrees in actuarial science, marketing, or finance at the Zimpleman College of Business as well as those studying information technology, graphic design, and communication. Changemaker Scholars will develop professional relationships throughout the business community, including with Sammons Financial Group.

The Sammons Financial Group Inclusive Scholars of Digital Proficiency Scholarship will be dedicated to enhancing the diversity of the technology and data analytics workforce by specifically recruiting high-achieving students who are underrepresented in these fields and providing them with the resources needed to complete their degrees and secure employment. 

Each endowed Scholars of Digital Proficiency scholarship will be funded through an investment of $100,000 and students receiving those awards will pursue degrees in computer science, data analytics, artificial intelligence, actuarial science, information systems, mathematics, or mathematics education. With this investment, Drake will work with Sammons Financial Group to promote opportunities for engagement between the Inclusive Scholars and the company, including internships, mentorships, and programming.  

“We are especially excited to be lead sponsors of 14 endowed scholarships totaling $1.4 million,” added Dinshaw. “These scholarships are not simply one-time gifts to qualifying students. Rather the students who receive a scholarship will have our support as long as they attend Drake. Longer term, we also hope they choose to consider working and living in the Des Moines community well beyond their university experience.”

In addition to long-time generous financial support from Sammons and its employees, the company continues to provide exceptional opportunities for engagement and internships for Drake students. Sammons is currently the professional home for dozens of Drake graduates. 

Sammons’ significant gift is a part of Drake’s comprehensive campaign, The Ones: Drake’s Campaign for the Brave & Bold, which kicked off in 2021 with a $225 million goal. The campaign is making possible multiple transformative advancements across the university’s campus, including the construction of state-of-the-art facilities like the Sammons Intercultural Center and new scholarship opportunities. With the support of its alumni, campus community and businesses like Sammons Financial Group that are working as a force for good, Drake is unlocking its potential and securing a more vibrant future for the generations of students to come.  

About Drake University 

Drake University is recognized as one of the finest national liberal arts universities. A distinctive and distinguished private university in Des Moines, Iowa, Drake enrolls nearly 3,000 undergraduate and more than 1,800 graduate students. Students choose from more than 70 majors, minors, and concentrations and 20 graduate degrees offered through seven colleges and schools. In addition, Drake offers a range of continuing education programs serving working professionals, community members, and area businesses. Drake recognizes the importance of its location in Iowa’s capital city and seeks to connect its teaching and learning to the wealth of cultural, recreational, and business resources it provides. At the same time, it weaves global thinking and intercultural learning into everything it does, preparing students to lead in an increasingly interconnected world.