Phase I of UNK’s comprehensive Residential Renewal Project came to a ceremonial close on September 8 with the public dedication of the Antelope/Nester Hall residential complex.
The newest section of the complex, inhabited by students just a few weeks ago, is named in honor of Dr.William R. Nester, who served as the last president of Kearney State College (1983-1991) and the first chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Kearney (1991-1993). Dr. Nester and members of his family were special guests throughout this dedication day’s events.
More than 200 students, faculty and staff, and community members gathered in the aesthetic area under the “bridge” of the Antelope/Nester Hall Complex on the east end of campus to hear comments about how the new living and learning facility is already impacting the lives of students. James B.Milliken, President of the University of Nebraska, expressed his delight in being on campus or this occasion to honor and advance the vision of Dr. Nester of “a vibrant, residential campus that focuses on students.” He concluded, “This is your day, Bill.”
Rick Larsen, Director of Residential and Greek Life, along with Stephanie Cunningham, President of the Residence Hall Association, and Travel and Tourism major from South Bend, NE, offered remarks on how Nester Hall is complementing the life of students, in and out of the classroom. Cunningham told the audience of her pleasure to be a “witness to the ripple of change “ travelling across campus. “The Nester/Antelope Hall Complex is the gateway to the enhancement of facilities. . .UNK does not just proclaim (student focus), it upholds its dedication to our comfort, the beauty of campus, and our feeling of belonging.”
The day and dedication event were deeply enhanced by Mayor Stan Clouse’s Proclamation of Dr.William R. Nester Recognition Day. Mayor Clouse said that the building of Nester Hall “sends a loud and clear message of the important role that UNK plays in the community. It is a cornerstone in the community.”
After Chancellor Kristensen presented Dr. Nester with his own copy of the etching from one of the windows in his namesake Hall, the latter addressed an admiring crowd of former and new colleagues, students and neighbors. His poetic, deeply heartfelt words moved many in the crowd to tears. “Day by day, this institution is in my head and in my heart. . .today is my final roll call with you, and when I cross the river, my last and continuing thoughts will be of duty, honor, country. . .and UNK, UNK, UNK.”
The tenure of Dr.William R. Nester as leader of Kearney State College and the University of Nebraska at Kearney will be remembered for the unprecedented progress that took form at all levels across campus–academically, in professional development, in service programs, and in the building of learning and living facilities. Hallmarks of his character and success, the leadership style and vision of Dr. Nester are what laid the foundation and assured the future of UNK for students, faculty, staff, and the community of Kearney.
A reception in the University View room of Nester Hall followed the dedication program, at which Dr. Nester and his family greeted and reminisced with hundreds of visitors. The University View room—destined to quickly become a signature emblem of campus—is named in Dr. Nester’s honor for the central role he played in the transformation of Kearney State College to the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Also, several groups of visitors joined residents of the Antelope/Nester Hall on tours of the interior rooms and features of the complex. Lee McQueen, UNK Director of Facilities, reports that the dedication of Nester Hall concludes Phase I of the Residential Renewal project. Mantor Hall will go offline this month. Chancellor Kristensen said, “The naming of this (Nester) Hall has great symmetry. The University ‘View’ bridges living and learning. I couldn’t be prouder of having (Dr. Nester’s name) as the first vision of people as they come onto campus.” Keep informed of the progress of the Residential Renewal project as well as other Facilities Management projects at www.unk.edu/offices/facilities.