Chancellor Doug Kristensen

University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen announced the gift of the A.E. “Alvie” and Ruth Payne Family Bridge to the campus.

In announcing the gift at a news conference Monday, Chancellor Kristensen said, “This gift is especially significant, because the bridge will connect the UNK main campus and the West Campus. It will bring the campus together.” The footbridge will span the Kearney Canal spillway, between the Health and Sports Center and the new College of Education Building. The Payne family are long-time UNK supporters. Alvie and his late wife Ruth have three sons–John, Chuck and Ron, all of whom live in Kearney and are involved in the family furniture business.

“They have all been long-time supporters of this institution in a variety of ways,” Chancellor Kristensen said. “They have always believed in the concept of ‘giving back’ to the community in which one lives–as well as the importance of the connection between town and gown.”

Both Alvie Payne, and his late wife Ruth, are Kearney State College/UNK alumni. Alvie is a past president of the KSC Foundation Board of Directors, the KSC/UNK Alumni Association, the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nebraska Retail Merchants Association. His son John and daughter-in-law JoDell have both served terms as KSC/UNK Alumni Association presidents. In addition, John served three terms, 18 years, as a member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents–chairing the board four times.

The Payne Family also supports a Payne Family Scholarship that is given each year to students majoring in business.

State Senator Joel Johnson of Kearney also spoke to the crowd, saying that the “Payne Family Bridge is one of the big parts of the Spillway Park project.” The Spillway Park project is a development that is beautifying the area surrounding the Kearney Canal Spillway.