DMU, community celebrate the power of education at Glanton Dinner

Nearly 400 central Iowa community members came together Oct. 16 to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion at Des Moines University’s 16th annual Glanton Dinner. The event generates financial support for the University’s Glanton Fund, which was established in 2004 to provide scholarships for minority students under-represented in health care professions and also support initiatives to enhance the cultural competency of all students.

Presented this year by Bankers Trust and held at the Meadows Events and Conference Center in Altoona, IA, the dinner raised $367,985 for the Glanton Fund.

DMU President and CEO Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., announces the financial impact donors to the Glanton Fund have had this year.

“The power of education is a gift that cannot be taken away, a gift that enables us to thrive and contribute to society,” said DMU President and CEO Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., at the event. “It is a gift we use more than any other. And it is a gift that you have helped make possible as supporters of the Glanton Fund.”

Named in honor of the late Des Moines civil rights leaders Willie Stevenson Glanton, J.D., and Luther Glanton Jr., J.D., the Glanton Fund has grown to nearly $3.2 million and has provided more than $2.2 million in scholarship dollars. The fund is among the priorities of Purple & Proud: the Campaign for Des Moines University, a $25 million fundraising effort that DMU announced publicly last December. To date, campaign gifts total $23,588,650.

Shahbaz Ahmed Merchant was honored at the 2019 Glanton Dinner for his advocacy for education.

“Purple & Proud is all about what DMU represents – preparing highly competent, compassionate and culturally sensitive health care professionals; providing holistic, patient-centered care in our DMU Clinic; and contributing our expertise and service in discussions about health care policies and the provision of accessible health care to all people regardless of their backgrounds,” President Franklin said.

During the annual Glanton Dinner, the University honors community members for working to create opportunities for others. This year’s Glanton honoree was Shahbaz Ahmed Merchant, who was recognized for his advocacy for education. He came to the United States from Pakistan to pursue his college education. Now chair and CEO of Merchant Investment Trust, which operates Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, Merchant has served on the boards of several educational institutions, including Des Moines University and the Des Moines Area Community College Foundation. Internationally acclaimed opera star and Iowa native Simon Estes, himself a past Glanton Dinner honoree, performed “God Bless America” in Merchant’s honor.

World-renowned opera star Simon Estes performed at the Glanton Dinner in honor of his friend Ahmed Merchant.

“Ahmed Merchant demonstrates his belief that giving educational opportunities to people enables them to be productive participants in society, regardless of their background,” President Franklin said.

Individuals aspiring to give back to society include first-year DMU osteopathic medical student Sedale Boire, who spoke at the Glanton Dinner.

“It isn’t easy coming into a profession where minorities are so poorly represented, but that makes me even more determined to become the best physician I can be,” he told the audience. “I’m deeply grateful that Des Moines University and donors to the Glanton Fund have made my quest easier by providing me with a Glanton Scholarship.”

DMU students Ricardo Bodra, Alexis Cross and Sedale Boire shared their experiences and gratitude with Glanton Dinner guests.

Mark your calendar now for the 17th annual Glanton Dinner on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, at the Meadows Events and Conference Center, Altoona, IA.

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