Why They Give: A Passion for Drake

By Steve Dinnen

Peggy Fisher (pictured) says Drake University has been very good to her. It brought her to Des Moines. (Like a lot of Drake students, she’s from the Chicago suburbs.) It got her interested in women’s basketball – she and husband Larry Stelter are regular game attendees. It got her involved with a sorority (Delta Gamma) where she met lifelong friends. And it got her involved in being a presence in the Drake community, as she is just now set to end her 16th year as a trustee of the school.


Now Fisher and Stelter are returning the goodness in the form of a gift of $3.25 million to Drake’s new capital campaign called “The Ones: Drake’s Campaign for the Brave & Bold.” It is an ambitious $225 million effort to move Drake forward and prepare its students to lead and position graduates as ones who “create solutions.”


Some of those solutions have already been launched with an early “quiet phase” rollout of the capital campaign that has raised $107 million of the total effort. That includes funding the Gregory and Suzie Glazer Burt Boys & Girls Club, which is up and running on the campus and serves neighborhood youths. Also rolled out and already accepting students is John Dee Bright College, which offers two-year associate degrees designed to appeal to students who Drake said might not otherwise have considered it to be their collegiate home. Those classes started last fall in renovated space in Meredith Hall.


As a trustee of Drake, Fisher said there has been an expectation that with that appointment she should financially support Drake. She has blown clear through that, figuring that she has supported Drake for 27 consecutive years. It’s part of her overall commitment to charitable giving, which leans heavily on education but also includes children and animals. (One of her favorites is the Wildcat Sanctuary, which provides a refuge for lions, tigers and other cats in Sandstone, Minnesota.)


But as of now, Drake rules. “My history’s at Drake,” Fisher said of her attachment to the school. “I feel like I literally grew up at Drake.”

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