University of Northern Iowa alum Steve Segebarth is proud to have been the “Liberal Arts guy” in boardrooms full of engineers, accountants and MBAs of all flavors over the course of a 30-plus year career.
Steve, who earned his bachelor’s degree in History (1967) and master’s degree in Political Science (1974) from UNI, always used his educational foundation to look at situations a little differently than individuals with a specialized degree. He also has a law degree (1976) from Iowa and a master’s degree in Labor Relations (1980) from Cornell along with spending four years in the Navy.
Steve and Linda Segebarth
“Steve isn’t blinded by preconceptions,” said Steve’s wife, Linda. “That makes him dangerous to the status quo in a good way. He has the ability to think creatively and work with management teams at all levels to rapidly implement practical solutions to difficult issues.”
This point of view shaped Steve’s vision as Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Saint-Gobain Containers – a company that manufactured billions of glass bottles and jars annually for the beer, spirits, wine and food industries. Before Saint-Gobain, he held various positions in Thomson Consumer Electronics (RCA) and the General Electric Company in addition to practicing law in Williamsburg, Iowa.
Steve believes that change and the need for continuous improvement is a given — whether you work in the private or public sector and no matter if your perspective is local or global. He also believes that the University of Northern Iowa is on its way to understanding this new normal and what it must do to position itself and its students to meet the many challenges of the future.
“I learned in my business life that putting together the right leadership with the right team, at the right time, with the right objectives to solve the right problem is what this is all about,” said Steve, who retired from Saint-Gobain Containers in 2014. “In my opinion, UNI is on this path.”
Steve and Linda’s generosity will help the university and its students meet these challenges. They recently created the Stephen A. and Linda Segebarth Endowed Scholarship and the Segebarth Endowed Fund for Excellence. The Stephen A. and Linda Segebarth Endowed Scholarship will provide support for students majoring in social and behavioral sciences with preference given to students who are involved in student government or areas of civic engagement, while the Segebarth Endowed Fund for Excellence will be used by the dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (CSBS) to support strategic opportunities that will advance the College. CSBS Dean Brenda Bass calls the gift a “game-changer” for the College.
“Linda and I are both concerned about the growing decline in civic literacy across the U.S.,” said Steve, who also had responsibility for Government Relations at Saint-Gobain Containers in more than 20 states and D.C. “We need to make sure that there is a pipeline of social scientists, historians and political scientists as resources for all citizens and newcomers to ensure better understanding and engagement in the democracy.”
“We focused on the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences because that’s where we can have the greatest impact,” Steve added. “We’re excited to watch the process grow.”
Steve calls UNI his “surrogate family” and hopes the gift will help students like he once was. The son of a Black Hawk County tenant farmer with an 8th-grade education, Steve was a first generation college student. With the help of National Defense Education Act loans, he completed his undergraduate degree in three years while driving a school bus, working at a pizza parlor and helping out with chores at the family farm in Dunkerton.
Steve and Linda were recognized for their generosity on Thursday, April 29, as the main Auditorium in Sabin Hall – a building in which Steve took over 100 semester hours— was renamed in their honor. The auditorium was dedicated during a ceremony that featured speeches from UNI President Bill Ruud, Bass and Emeritus Professor of Political Science Dhirendra Vajpeyi.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about my parents, Willie and Wanda, and the scholarships,” said Steve, who was joined by his siblings Judi, Becky and Scott, and a number of other extended family and friends at the ceremony. “The Segebarth Auditorium represents far more than just the name.”
Linda added, “It is a thrill to be able to do this now, knowing there will be an immediate and positive impact on CSBS. It is beyond cool.”
In addition to the Stephen A. and Linda Segebarth Endowed Scholarship and the Segebarth Endowed Fund for Excellence, Steve and Linda also created the Vajpeyi Political Science Endowed Fund in 2009. If you are interested in discovering how you can support the University of Northern Iowa, please visit www.uni-foundation.org.