UNK Unveils Plans for Centennial Plaza at Ground-Breaking Ceremonies and Sakura Celebration Set for 3:30 P.M. Friday, April 29

Dr. Ken Nikels

Plans for the University of Nebraska at Kearney Centennial Plaza will be unveiled at ground-breaking ceremonies set for 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 29, at the Hostetler Amphitheatre, located between the Calvin T. Ryan Library and the Fine Arts Building.

The Centennial Plaza, which has been designed by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, will feature benches, and plantings of trees and shrubs. The plantings will be financed by Centennial Celebration gifts. Individuals and groups who donate to the plaza at Gold ($500 or more), Silver ($300-$499) and Bronze ($100-$299) levels will be recognized with plaques located in the plaza, according to Centennial Committee co-chairs Dr. Ken Nikels, dean of the Office of Graduate Studies, and Earl Rademacher, former vice chancellor for Business and Finance.

“Any proceeds existing after the Centennial Plaza and tree plantings are completed will be directed to the Centennial Scholarship Fund, which will benefit both undergraduate and graduate students,” Dr. Nikels said.

The ground-breaking ceremonies will combine an observance of Nebraska’s Arbor Day and the Japanese Sakura celebration. Sakura, which means cherry blossoms, is the Japanese celebration of spring. Last year, the National Collegiate Network (NCN) Foundation donated Sakura trees that were planted on the campus near Welch Hall.

The Centennial Plaza event will be opened by an introduction by UNK Senior Vice Chancellor Finnie Murray followed by greetings from Dr. Galen Hadley, mayor of Kearney. Dr. Susanne Bloomfield, who is writing a history of the campus for the centennial, will speak on the history of the university. Rademacher will then speak about the plans for the Centennial Plaza. He will be followed by Jerry Fox, UNK director of International Education, and Dr. France Pruitt, who will give greetings from NCN .

The Sakura portion of the event will include keynote speaker Dr. Pruitt of NCN, chorus and speech performances by Japanese students, as well as a large exhibit of an origami picture. NCN places Japanese students in American universities to study in a four-year bachelor degree program under the supervision of Japanese-speaking counselors. The Sakura festival is held to express gratitude to the key NCN partner universities participating in the program, and to express thanks, symbolized by planting cherry trees, to the local community and university community for welcoming Japanese students.

After the Japanese students’ presentations, the ground-breaking and tree planting will take place. The event is free and open to the public.

In case of rain, the ceremonies will be moved to the Choral Room, located in the southeast are of the UNK Fine Arts Building.