Suzie has devoted more than four decades of her time, energy, and resources to philanthropic work across Iowa

During its 156th commencement ceremonies this past weekend, Drake University awarded an honorary degree to one of the most prolific and celebrated philanthropists in the Midwest and beyond, Suzie Glazer Burt.

For more than four decades, Suzie has dedicated her time, talents, and resources to empowering and enhancing the lives of others. Among the institutions and communities that have benefited from her impactful work is Drake. Suzie has carried on her family’s legacy of service to the Drake community. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Suzie is the granddaughter of Ellis I. Levitt, who served on Drake’s Board of Trustees and founded the first Boys Club in Iowa, which was later renamed the Boys & Girls Club. Her father, Edward Glazer, was chair of the Drake Board of Trustees; and her mother, Maddie Levitt, also served on the Board of Trustees and was the national chairperson for two Drake fundraising campaigns.

Suzie is the third generation in her family to serve as both a member of the Drake University Board of Trustees and a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs Board of Trustees. She is also the third in her family to receive a Doctor of Humane Letters from Drake. Drake awarded its first honorary degree, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals in various endeavors, in 1884. The honorary degree lauds individual merit, distinguished achievement, and exemplary service to Drake.

“Drake University is proud to recognize Suzie with an honorary degree. She has generously shared her time, talents, and treasure to support and advance the work and mission of Drake and many other nonprofits across central Iowa. For years, Suzie has demonstrated a powerful commitment to transform lives and strengthen communities,” said Marty Martin, Drake University President, who presented the honorary degree to Suzie during the 2024 undergraduate commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 19.

Gregory & Suzie Glazer Burt Club

In 2019, Drake University and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa opened the Gregory & Suzie Glazer Burt Club located on Drake University’s campus—only the second in the nation to be located on a private university campus. The Club is a direct result of Suzie’s and her late husband Greg’s vision, advocacy, and charitable giving. The Burt Club serves more than 200 youth, providing kids and teens in the Des Moines community with a safe, supportive place to be after school. Additionally, the Club provides numerous educational and service opportunities for Drake University students and further integrates the University with the surrounding neighborhood.

The Ones Campaign

Suzie currently serves as the co-chair of Drake’s comprehensive campaign, The Ones: Drake’s Campaign for the Brave & Bold. The campaign is the largest fundraising campaign in the University’s history and has raised more than $247 million to date. Suzie has not only championed the campaign, but she has also generously gifted more than $12.5 million in support.

Drake Women’s Basketball

In addition to Suzie’s ongoing leadership and involvement on campus, she has generously supported Drake Athletics, contributing $5 million to the Drake Women’s Basketball program—the largest non-capital donation ever for a women’s basketball program. In alignment with her efforts to empower and strengthen women, and close the gender gap in athletics, her gift has uplifted and provided invaluable resources to Drake’s female coaches and student-athletes.

Suzie’s leadership and commitment to charitable giving continue to have a profound impact on the lives of Drake students, faculty, staff, and the broader community.