Don Briggs Receives Alpha Tau Omega Lifetime Achievement Award

Jim Rundstrom
director of the UNK Alumni Association, 308.865.8474

Don Briggs, long-time sports information director for Kearney State College/University of Nebraska at Kearney, received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity Founders Day Celebration held at the UNK Alumni House in Kearney last weekend.

Briggs, known as”Mr. B” to students through the years, was the ATO adviser for 40 years. In addition to advising the KSC/UNK chapter, Briggs also wrote and published the  ATO Shorts,  a quarterly newsletter, for nearly 30 years.

Presenting the award Saturday night were Bill Dunn, editor of the Grand Island Independent,  and Charles Slagle, director of Environmental Health and Safety at Sprint in Overland Park, Kan. Mark Reid, local broadcast personality, served as emcee. UNK ATO alumni came from as far as London, England, and domestically, from as far west as Washington and as far south-east as Georgia for the event.

Briggs earned a B.A. from UNK (then Nebraska State Teachers College at Kearney) in 1951 and began teaching at Lyman the following fall. He became principal in 1956. He later returned to the campus, and in 1957, he earned the first master’s degree awarded in the history of the institution. He then joined the staff and began his career as a journalism and English teacher. He advised The Antelope newspaper, the Blue and Gold  yearbook and Student Senate. From 1961 – 1974, he was director of Alumni Affairs, Public Relations and Publications, serving as the entire public relations department, which included alumni services, college relations, college publications and sports information. From 1974 – 1990, he was sports information director.

In 1971, Briggs was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame for meritorious service and twice received the NAIA Award of Merit. A career member of the NAIA Sports Information Directors Association, Briggs served as the organization’s president for two years–1968 – 1970. In 1980, he received the Sports Information Director of the Year Award.

Briggs has been historian for Loper athletics, having compiled a history of sports and all letter winners. He has been a member of the UNK Athletic Hall of Fame committee since its inception in 1980. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991 for his meritorious service.

For his work with alumni, Briggs received the KSC/UNK Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 1984. He was inducted into the Broken Bow Hall of Fame in 2004.

Further, he served as adviser to Phi Tau Gamma/Alpha Tau Omega fraternity from 1957-2002. Briggs pledged Phi Tau in 1948, and when the fraternity went national in 1966, he was initiated that summer. He received the National Alpha Tau Omega Adviser of the Year Award in 1984. He also served as an adviser to ATO chapters in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri from 1982-1991.

As adviser of Phi Tau Gamma, Briggs was instrumental, along with a number of other alumni, in acquiring the Phi Tau fraternity house located at 2221 7th Ave. The facility served as home for Phi Tau Gamma/Alpha Tau Omega fraternity until 1991, when the ATO fraternity moved into on-campus housing.

Briggs wrote the history of Loper athletics for the years 1905-2000. He also has written a history of the State Tuberculosis Hospital, which is now the West Center Building.

Finally, Briggs has had a role in a number of scholarships that have benefited students. Among those are the Don Briggs ATO Scholarship and the Don Briggs Endowed Scholarship for students in the College of Fine Arts and Humanities.