Jim and Margaret Dunn have a vision
for Washington County, Iowa. Soon,
thanks to their partnership with
Kirkwood Community College, their
vision will become reality as construction
begins this fall on the Kirkwood
Washington County Regional Center.
Last spring, Jim and Margaret, along
with their sons Dave and Mark and their
respective families, donated eight acres
northwest of the city of Washington. The
planned $9 million facility will provide
enhanced learning opportunities for
Washington County area students. The
gift provides the foundation for a longterm
educational commitment: the new
center will offer innovative programming,
collaborating with several local high
schools to bring hands-on technical
programs and college-level arts and
sciences courses to rural students.
"We've been thinking about what we
could do to help with education in
Washington County area through
Kirkwood," Jim explains. "When this
regional center idea came up, we thought
this could do as much or more for
Washington County area and the people
who live here than anything else in our
The Dunns are long-time Kirkwood
advocates. Jim has served on the
Kirkwood Foundation's Board of
Directors for more than 10 years,
and the family supports a special
Kirkwood scholarship for students
who have attended a Washington
County high school.
"Our loyalty to the college stems from
admiration for Kirkwood's dedication to
putting students first," says Jim Dunn.
"You learn a lot about an organization
when you serve on the board," he
explains. "I've had the benefit of working
with all the good people at Kirkwood.
The student does come first. Every
decision Kirkwood makes is based on
whether it will benefit the students."
The impact of the center is huge in terms
of diversifying career opportunities and
training in the area it will serve.
"The broad scope we have planned will
make college education more accessible
for everyone, from students still in high
school up through adults who might
need an entirely new career," notes Karen
Gorham, the Kirkwood Board of Trustees
District 4 representative, which includes
Margaret Dunn stresses the value of
the center's ability to give high school
students hands-on career experience
while also earning college credit.
"This is an opportunity for high school
students to be able to take two years of
classes, at no cost to their families, that
will transfer to the University of Iowa
or elsewhere," she says. "Students from
all the schools involved will be able to
The 35,000 square foot center's
diverse course offerings will include
justice, arts and sciences, computer
networking, automotive technology,
patient care/CNA and more. It's notably
more than individual school districts
could provide alone.
The Dunns envision the Regional Center
as a huge asset to the Washington County
area - now and in the future.
"This is helping people help
themselves," Jim Dunn says. "They
will be better prepared for life than
they would otherwise. And this center
will grow and do more good in the