Kevin Gruneich, 80BBA, was able to attend college thanks in part to others’ generosity, and now he uses his own Wall Street success to help hundreds of University of Iowa students pursue their dreams.
Known as one of the top publishing analysts in the world, Gruneich retired in 2004 from a senior leadership role at the Bear Stearns Companies. However, he remains actively engaged in private business ventures and serves on several corporate and philanthropic boards. He and his wife also administer the Kevin and Donna Gruneich Charitable Foundation, which focuses on education, religion, and environmental protection—and on helping the underprivileged.
The Park City, Utah, resident, who earned an M.B.A. degree in finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, got his start in finance and industrial relations at the UI. “The undergraduate years are so important,” he says. “What one experiences, learns, and practices during college…is key to attaining life goals.”
This belief is what has inspired Gruneich to help open doors for students at Iowa. The Gruneichs’ foundation helped fund the UI’s new business hub, a study center now under construction at the Henry B. Tippie College of Business. For the past 11 years, Gruneich has also been instrumental in underwriting the Iowa Edge—a program that provides orientation, programming, community building, and counseling support for Iowa’s minority and first-generation college students.
“Like Kevin Gruneich, I did not have any big advantages growing up,” says Jose Diaz, a student at the Tippie College of Business, who graduates this year and will work for J.P. Morgan Chase & Company. “With the help of the Iowa Edge program, I submerged myself in the UI’s wonderful culture and became heavily involved with student organizations. My parents, who never went past the sixth grade, still can’t believe the strides that one generation in our family has made through the help of Iowa and Kevin Gruneich.”
Gruneich has helped students such as Diaz attend college and has inspired a new generation of philanthropically minded graduates. Gruneich played a key role in launching and underwriting the Fundraising and Philanthropy Certificate Program in the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This program, one of the few undergraduate philanthropy studies programs in the nation, helps students from all majors prepare for careers—and leadership roles—in the nonprofit sector.
“I am just beginning to return the investment others have made in me,” Gruneich explains. “I believe the students I help will eventually be there to help others, creating a virtuous cycle that will improve the university, the state, and society as a whole.”
In addition to his work in nurturing and mentoring students, Gruneich also has been a member of the University of Iowa Foundation’s board of directors since 2006 and serves on its investment committee.
In all that he does, both personally and professionally, Kevin Gruneich demonstrates a deep understanding of the power of philanthropy—and the importance of “paying it forward” for University of Iowa students.
Gruneich is a life member of the UI Alumni Association and a member of the UI Foundation’s Presidents Club.
Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.