Alumna gives back to UNK with scholarship for students in crisis

Contact: Robb Crouch, NU Foundation, 402-458-1142,

Kearney, Neb., June 11, 2013 – Dropping out of college may unfortunately seem like the only option for students who experience a serious personal hardship. To encourage and support University of Nebraska at Kearney students who may face life’s unpredicted challenges, alumna Ilene Albrecht Steinkruger has established a scholarship to help when they may need it most.

Steinkruger established a permanently endowed scholarship fund with a $300,000 gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation. Annual income from the Ilene Albrecht Steinkruger Scholarship Fund will enable UNK officials to make scholarship awards available to students who experience a significant hardship, such as a personal emergency or family crisis, and because of this are at risk of abandoning their studies.

Steinkruger, who was raised in Kearney, said she created the scholarship as a way to give back to her alma mater, because the education she received enabled her to enjoy a successful teaching career, and she is able to relate to students who may be struggling

“College was a financial challenge for me, and I was blessed to receive funds from several local organizations to help me pay expenses,” said Steinkruger, who lives in Colorado. “A scholarship for current students facing hardships is my opportunity to show appreciation to UNK and the Kearney community for their support of me many years ago.”

Charlie Bicak, senior vice chancellor of academic and student affairs at UNK, said the gift will have a tremendous positive impact on students for years to come.

“Gifts like this change lives,” Bicak said. “The UNK community is very grateful for this scholarship, as doors that otherwise may be closed for students will be opened for their success. We are thankful and pleased to have alumni such as Ilene Steinkruger who think so highly of our students and the work we do on their behalf.”

Steinkruger said today’s college expenses can be overwhelming, which is why she believes scholarships are critical for helping and encouraging students to meet financial demands and to succeed in a specific field of study.

“Smaller colleges and universities such as UNK graduate outstanding students, but often the institution does not receive the funding assistance provided to larger schools,” Steinkruger said. “Without student scholarships some deserving students may not be as fortunate as I was.”

Ilene Albrecht Steinkruger married fellow university alumnus Milton Steinkruger in 1960. He died in 2009, and a gift from his estate to the University of Nebraska Foundation established a permanently endowed scholarship that is also used to provide scholarship awards to students who experience a significant hardship while attending UNK.

The gifts from the Steinkrugers have supported the University of Nebraska’s current fundraising initiative, the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities, including one of its priorities to increase support for student scholarships at UNK.

The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization raising private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for more than 75 years. In 2012 donors, through their gifts to the foundation, provided the university with $165 million for scholarships, medical and other research, academic programs, faculty and buildings. All foundation funds are donor- designated. The foundation’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, the Campaign for Nebraska, concludes in 2014. For more information, visit



– Robb Crouch