MMU announces two transformational gifts: first-ever named college and state-of-the-art wellness and athletic performance center

Mount Mercy University is pleased to announce two transformational gifts, made possible by the philanthropic foresight of two MMU trustees and one alumna.

Martin-Herold College of Nursing & Health

MMU trustee Ron Herold and his wife, alumna Paula (Martin) Herold, have continued their generous support for Mount Mercy’s nursing education leadership with a life-changing gift—establishing the University’s first-ever named college, the Martin-Herold College of Nursing & Health. 

The College will serve as a valuable organizational umbrella for Mount Mercy’s renowned undergraduate and graduate nursing and health care programs—facilitating increased synergies, offerings and enrollment while addressing critical shortages in health care. 

Dr. Mary Tarbox

Dr. Mary Tarbox

The Herolds’ pivotal gift provides support for Mount Mercy’s fall launch of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program and creates a permanent endowment to support ongoing demands and future growth in nursing and health-related programs.

Dr. Mary Tarbox, current chair and professor of nursing at Mount Mercy, has accepted the inaugural deanship of the College. Recognized as one of the 100 Great Nurses of Iowa and as a Nurse of the Year by the Iowa Nurses Association, Tarbox has been on the MMU nursing faculty since 1977. Before that, she served as a pediatric nurse at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics and in various public health nursing roles.

Originally from Iowa—Ron from Cresco and Paula from Lawler—the Herolds haven’t lost touch with their small-town Iowa roots, despite moving to Minnesota and then Florida. Ron owned successful manufacturing companies in Stillwater, Minnesota, and Dresser, Wisconsin, and Paula, a 1961 graduate of the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Cedar Rapids, worked in pediatrics and maternity nursing in the Twin Cities. The Herolds previously endowed a scholarship for Mount Mercy nursing students from rural Iowa or Minnesota.

“The Herolds’ gift will enhance the vision for our nursing program, beyond our expectations,” said Tarbox. “It will provide the community with the quantity and quality of professional nurses needed to meet the growing demands of the health care system—especially in rural Iowa.”  

“We want to turn our success and appreciation into support for the community,” said the Herolds. “Mercy nursing has been a strong influence in our lives, and it is our honor to invest in the continued and future success of Mount Mercy nurses.”

Rinderknecht Athletic Center

An MMU trustee since 1988, John Rinderknecht has continued his generous support for Mount Mercy with a transformational gift to renovate the Rinderknecht Athletic Center. The Center will be a vibrant and compelling complement to MMU’s newly completed outdoor Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex.


Rinderknecht Athletic Center as it stands now on 17th St. NE

As president of Denver-based RAM Development Company, Rinderknecht’s insight, expertise and generosity will transform an old warehouse on 17th Street NE into a state-of-the-art wellness and athletic performance center—serving as a dynamic training facility for Mount Mercy’s 500+ student-athletes, and as a recreational fitness resource for the University’s 2,100+ students, faculty and staff.

“The Rinderknecht Athletic Center will be a major asset for our growing Mount Mercy athletics program,” said Paul Gavin, athletic director. “Providing a top-notch training and fitness center right next to our new outdoor athletic complex will improve our ability to serve our student-athletes, coaches and the entire campus community.”

“I am honored to support the talented efforts of Mount Mercy’s growing student-athlete population, as well as all students, faculty and staff with the renovation of the Rinderknecht Athletic Center,” said Rinderknecht. “They work hard, study hard and compete at the highest levels—all while giving back to the Cedar Rapids community. They deserve the best facilities possible.”

OPN Architects and Rinderknecht Associates will partner with Mount Mercy to complete this project. The namesake company of John’s father, Rinderknecht Associates, has a long history of shaping Mount Mercy’s physical campus with the construction of numerous buildings, including the Plaster Athletic Complex.   

“On behalf of the entire Mount Mercy community, I extend my deepest gratitude to Ron and Paula Herold, and John Rinderknecht for their generosity, vision and dedication to the future of Mount Mercy University,” said President Laurie Hamen. “These transformational gifts will positively impact MMU for decades to come.” 

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