When I think of someone who embodies “Purple for Life!” David VanSickel, ’74, immediately comes to mind.
Whenever David is asked to do anything for UNI, and specifically the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the answer is “YES”.
David grew up in Sheffield, Iowa and graduated from UNI with a bachelor's in history and a minor in political science. He relates that UNI was a family choice with all three of his brothers also graduating from UNI. For David, the campus was just the right size … big enough to have a diverse student body and faculty but small enough to still be able to get to know and interact with faculty and not feel like just a number.
David stated, “I was lucky enough to have some outstanding faculty from the history department for some of my survey courses and they instilled in me a fascination with history that has never diminished.” He went on to share that professors Lang and Eiklor were great role models who really expanded his horizons. Another great influencer was professor Sunseri. David relayed listening to his lecture on a Huey Long speech and ventures that anyone who heard it would never forget it. He credits Prof Sunseri’s “encouragement (insistence really)” that he think critically as a life-long influence.
After graduating from UNI, David continued his education at the University of Iowa College of Law, graduating with a J.D. in 1977. Since that time, he has been an attorney with Dentons Davis Brown PC in Des Moines, Iowa, where he specializes in public finance as bond or underwriter’s counsel on financings for public bodies, including Des Moines Area Community College and the State of Iowa and its various authorities, and non-profit corporations including most of the private colleges and universities in Iowa. David has enjoyed working with public officials and college and university administrators to secure financing for important state projects and higher education facilities.
David has been a long-time contributor to the CSBS Dean’s Fund as well as to the VanSickel Student Support Fund, established to assist students with Study Abroad expenditures. David has also recently made a commitment to support the gerontology program's endowed professorships and scholarships accounts.
When asked when and why he chose to contribute to CSBS/UNI, he responded that it has been such a long time since he initially made the decision that his reasoning has shifted with the times. David believes, “in an era of constantly declining support from the legislature, it is important for everyone who believes in the value of higher education do what they can to support UNI. That concern and my interest in study abroad have been the initiatives for my contributions.”
David is a great believer in travel as a way to experience other cultures and promote greater understanding among peoples. It is for this reason that he has supported Dean Bass in providing assistance to students wanting to spend a semester or at least some time studying abroad. It is his hope that the travel has been rewarding and an interesting learning experience for the students he has assisted.
In addition to his monetary generosity, David has been extremely generous with his time and talents, by serving on the CSBS Advisory Board, volunteering at CSBS events, and most recently serving on an ad hoc committee for the UNI Board of Trustees.
David will soon be retiring from his practice of law and is anxious to have more time to enjoy and pursue his hobbies of reading, travel, biking and hiking. We all wish him well as he embarks on his next chapter and look forward to our times to interact with this “Purple for Life!” alumnus.
Dianne Campbell, '91
Senior Director of Development