Allen College in Waterloo has received the largest donor gift in the history of the nursing and health sciences education institution.

The estate of Jesup-area farmer Edward W. Jesse, Jr., is donating nearly $3.1 million to the school, UnityPoint Health-Waterloo officials announced on Tuesday (Jan. 17, 2017). The gift comes in the form of an endowed scholarship fund that will provide scholarships for Allen College students well into the future.

“We are fortunate to have friends of Allen like Ed Jesse and his family,” said Pam Delagardelle, President and CEO of UnityPoint Health–Waterloo. “This extremely generous gift will help many area students be able to afford their dream of entering the healthcare field and to begin important and satisfying careers – many of them right here in the Cedar Valley. It will also aid Allen College in its efforts to increase enrollment at a time when nursing shortages remain a concern all across Iowa and the nation.”

The Edward W. Jesse Estate Endowed Scholarship will be presented annually to students based on financial need, personal qualifications and signs of academic success. A preference may be given to applicants who graduated from Black Hawk County or Buchanan County high schools. Further information will be available on the Allen College website at

The gift goes toward the Allen College initiatives portion of the For Allen For You capital campaign that is raising $19.8 million for three distinct projects. To date, more than $11 million has been raised or pledged toward that overall campaign total.

Campaign organizers have noted that the average Allen College undergraduate debt load at graduation has reached nearly $30,000. Depending on how the market performs, the college should be able to distribute about 10 significant scholarships per year, beginning in the next academic year.

Edward William Jesse, Jr., died in 2013, at the age of 78. He had been a longtime farmer in Black Hawk and Buchanan counties and was a life-long member of Zion Lutheran Church. In 2008, Jesse donated the land for UnityPoint’s Clinic in Jesup. His total lifetime giving to Allen is nearly $3.26 million.

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