William R. Nester, former President of Kearney State College, will deliver the University of Nebraska at Kearney winter commencement address on Friday, December 20, at the Health and Sports Center. Graduation ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. Nester served as the Kearney State College president from 1983 to 1993 and was very influential in expanding and improving the campus in many ways during his term. He based his presidency on several important themes, including: sound education planning, a greater number of quality educational programs, significant improvement in funding, higher expectations for endowed support and improved physical facilities. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Nester received his Doctorate in Administrative Education from the University of Cincinnati. He tenured as a professor at the University of Cincinnati and Ohio State before he was nominated for the position of Kearney State College president in October 1982.
While at UNK, he helped the Calvin T. Library double its size by adding onto the building in 1983. In 1985, the Memorial Carillon Bell Tower, a well-known landmark on campus, was erected. The Ockinga center and two residence halls, University Residence North and South, were built during his term. In 1990, he was present for the dedication of the Health and Sports Center, UNK’s 6,000-seat arena.
Before Nester ended his term, he was influential in obtaining funds for closing the streets near Copeland and Men’s Hall in order to build the Cope Memorial Fountain and make the campus a safer environment for students walking to class. For a decade, he developed and improved physical facilities and he also stressed beautifying the campus with better landscaping and more trees.
Nester’s crowning achievement was guiding the transition from KSC into the University of Nebraska system, which became effective on July 1, 1991. The change encouraged and inspired members of the academic community to seek new levels of excellence. Nester also increased faculty recognition and exposure through their participation in faculty development initiatives and through expanding the Pratt-Heins Foundation Awards for teaching, scholarship and service.
As the seventh president/chancellor of UNK, Nester oversaw the most extensive growth in the history of UNK, in more areas than one. Nester successfully achieved a vision that created a distinctive future for higher education in Nebraska.
At commencement, UNK graduate Ryan Samuelson of Gibbon will address his fellow 393 graduates while giving the Senior Class Response. Graduates Manju Shrestha of Nepal and Brett Bandemer of Grand Island will give the invocation and the benediction, respectively. Special music will be performed by the UNK Choraleers and the Brass Ensemble directed by David Bauer and the University Band, directed by Neal Schnoor. UNK graduate Susan Dusty Walston of Haysville, Kan., will sing the National Anthem and the Alma Mater and graduate Lori Schluntz of Naponee will accompany on the piano.
Michael Fitzpatrick, newly-elected President of the Alumni Association, will give the Alumni Greetings. Fitzpatrick is president and chief executive officer of Cosgriff Company, a national consulting firm with headquarters in Omaha. He and his wife, Kathie, live in Omaha.
For those unable to attend commencement, the ceremony will be web cast on the UNK website at www.unk.edu.
Addressing the students at the morning Honors Convocation breakfast will be Chancellor Doug Kristensen. Student Body President Ryan Hatt of Omaha and Loree Knispel of Ogallala will give the greetings and senior response, respectively.