UNK naming recognizes contributions of Warner family

Founders Hall

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Founders Hall now will bear the name of two prominent Nebraska state senators – father and son – who played a significant role in the institution’s history.

The name “Jerome and Charles J. Warner Hall,” was approved by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents at its meeting today, and the transition from Founders Hall to Warner Hall begins immediately.

Jerome Warner
Jerome Warner
Charles J. Warner
Charles J. Warner

“By naming Founder’s Hall the Jerome and Charles J. Warner Hall, UNK and the Board of Regents express their gratitude and appreciation to the families of Charles and Jerome Warner for their exemplary service to the University of Nebraska at Kearney and University of Nebraska,” UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen said in the university’s proposal.

The idea to honor the Warners arose during the year-long “Year of Celebration” at UNK in 2016, during which the university celebrated 111 years as an institution, and 25 years as part of the University of Nebraska. The Warners’ legacies appeared in university research, in documents and presentations throughout the year.

Chancellor Kristensen, in his March 1, 2016, address, “A Century Later: From 111 Ballots to Today,” reminded the audience that it was Charles J. Warner – often referred to as the “grand old man of Nebraska politics” – who in the Nebraska House of Representatives in 1903 led the effort to establish Kearney Normal School.

Charles Warner was a member of the Nebraska House from 1901-1907, then in the Nebraska Senate from 1919-1937, and then the Nebraska Unicameral from 1937-1939, and served as the combined legislature’s first Speaker. He was later elected lieutenant governor four times, serving from 1949 until his death at age 80.

Jerome Warner himself became the next “grand old man,” serving 35 years in elected service as state senator, including as Speaker, and heading committees on Education, Appropriations, and Revenue, and the Executive Board. He led efforts on bills related to state school aid, forming the Department of Administrative Services, limiting property taxes, highway and road funding, development of the biennial budget process, among others. His leadership helped make Kearney State College part of the state university system in 1989.

Charles Warner received the Nebraska Builder Award, the University of Nebraska’s highest non-academic honor, for his contribution to the welfare of the university and the state; and Jerome Warner received the Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

The building – which houses administration, some business offices, departments of criminal justice, political science, math and social work – was dedicated by Kearney State College in 1978 with “Founders Hall” honoring the memories of the original founding faculty and administration. The Founders Hall dedication plaque will continue to hold a place of honor in Warner Hall.

Upon approval today, the university will begin transitioning to calling Founders Hall, Warner Hall, with the full formal name “Jerome and Charles J. Warner Hall.” Signage will be updated over the summer, with a ceremony to recognize the naming planned the first week of fall semester.


Contact: Todd Gottula, Director of Communications, 308.865.8454, gottulatm@unk.edu