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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Best-selling author Robert Waller has made a high level seven-figure gift to his alma mater, the University of Northern Iowa. The exact amount was not disclosed.

The former dean and professor of the UNI College of Business graduated from UNI in 1962 with a bachelor of business education-marketing degree and master of arts in marketing in 1964. He taught in UNI’s College of Business Administration for more than 20 years, serving six as dean.

“UNI allowed me to explore my intellectual interests and my tastes, as a student, a professor and a dean,” said Waller. “As a professor, UNI provided me room to experiment with courses and course content; and as the first dean of the business school, to have some influence on the direction of the university. I am pleased to lend support to my alma mater and to help it grow as a first-class university.”

Waller has many and varied interests — economics, business and jazz, and of course, writing — that are reflected in how the gift will be directed: the Robert James Waller Scholarship in Economics, an annually funded full tuition and fees scholarship for a student majoring in economics. Bequests include the Charles T. Leavitt Scholarship in Economics; the Robert James Waller Professorship in Economics; Robert James Waller College of Business Faculty Enrichment fund; support for jazz scholarships; the Honors Program; and the Rod Library will receive royalties from his books.

“Robert’s generous gift will have an immediate and significant impact on current and future generations of UNI students and faculty,” said UNI President Ben Allen. “We are grateful to see an alumnus, former professor and dean give back to the university in such a significant way. We also appreciate the way that Dr. Waller continues to challenge all of us at UNI with his own rigorous scholarly work. Robert’s gift provides support for our students and the example he sets inspires us to always strive for excellence in our academic programs.”

Waller, whose phenomenal best-seller “The Bridges of Madison County” has sold more than 12 million copies and was made into a major film and theatrical productions in numerous countries, has recently released a nonfiction book, “The Summer Nights Never End ... Until they Do,” subtitled “Life, Liberty & the Lure of the Short-Run,” published by Wasendorf & Associates/Traders Press.

The former Cedar Falls resident, now residing in Texas, has lectured and published widely in the fields of problem solving and decision-making, and has worked as a consultant around the world.

He believes UNI has dramatically increased in quality and sophistication over the last 30 years and is poised to become a first-class regional institution serving areas outside of Iowa, as well as its ongoing contributions to the state of Iowa.

“My gifts are intended to support this continuing, rapid growth in quality over the coming decades. While the gifts are centered on the business college, additional funds are directed toward other parts of the university, also. Long conversations with Ben Allen and Noreen Hermansen, not directly involving gifts, also played a major role. I have enormous respect for Ben and his leadership.”

The Waller gift is part of UNI’s Imagine the Impact campaign, which supports scholarships and programs. For more information about the campaign, visit


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