UNK-Two former UNK faculty members leave more than a legacy of education, now that a $100,000 endowment has been established in their honor.
In recognition of Marlene and Vern Plambeck’s 36 years of service to UNK, their son, Thane Plambeck, and daughter-in-law, Gloria Gatlin, of Palo Alto, Calif., created the Marlene and Vern Plambeck Endowment for the Fine Arts with a gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation.
“The gift is a wonderful honor,” said Vern Plambeck, retired professor of English. “My wife and I appreciated the opportunity to work at UNK for more than 35 years, and now we look forward to having a lasting mark there.”
The Plambecks said they plan for the money to be used to fund events, special needs, and student scholarships in any department within the College of Fine Arts and Humanities.
“I’m thrilled and delighted with the gift,” said Rodney Miller, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Humanities. “The gift reflects only a portion, however, of the benefit we as an institution have derived from the Plambecks’ years of service.”
Vern Plambeck taught English at UNK for 36 years before retiring in 2000. During that time his wife, Marlene, served as part-time English lecturer for more than 25 years and retired in 1997.
“Although I did not have the pleasure of working with Vern Plambeck for more than a couple years before he retired,” said Miller, “it was obvious to me that he was one of the most respected professors, not only within the English department but by the whole university.”
Marlene and Vern Plambeck graduated from Hastings College in 1957 and then taught at Fairbury Junior High School for five years before moving to Kearney. During that time, Vern Plambeck earned a master’s degree from UNL and later received a doctorate from UNL in 1973.
Vern Plambeck said that some of his time at UNK, besides teaching, was devoted to editing the Platte Valley Review, a journal of scholarly and creative writing. “I appreciated the time I spent working on the Review. It was a meaningful and enjoyable activity.”
Thane Plambeck is a 1980 graduate of Kearney High School and a 1985 graduate of UNL. He received a doctorate from Stanford University and went on to fund two computer software companies. His wife, Gloria Gatlin, was also active in the computer business before recently retiring. She holds a master’s degree from Stanford University.
The Plambecks look forward to seeing how the endowment helps the university. Long before the gift, however, UNK had already benefited greatly from the Plambecks’ influence.
“One of the best comments, I believe, one can make about a colleague is to say that he or she is an institution,” said Miller. “The Plambecks certainly are an institution at UNK and are highly regarded. Vern was literally a great moral authority in the English department as well as a positive role model. The college will continue to reflect his and Marlene’s values for a long time to come.”
The University of Nebraska Foundation is a non-profit corporation supplementing support for students, faculty, facilities, and programs at the University of Nebraska’s four campuses through gifts from alumni, friends, corporations, and other foundations.