University of Nebraska launches Only in Nebraska campaign to address future needs of the state

LINCOLN – University of Nebraska System President Ted Carter, joined by the chancellors of the four University of Nebraska campuses, announced today the public launch of Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future. The campaign is a historic effort to encourage at least 150,000 benefactors to give $3 billion to support University of Nebraska students, faculty, academic programs and research to address the needs of the state.

“As Nebraska’s only public university, we have a special opportunity and responsibility to meet the needs of students, our state and the workforce,” Carter said. “The University of Nebraska is one of the state’s most powerful drivers of economic growth and quality of life. With this campaign, we can extend our impact even further – today, tomorrow and for generations to come.

“Our university is extraordinarily fortunate to be generously supported by alumni, friends and all Nebraskans. This campaign is an investment in students and in our future. We are excited to build that future together – as only Nebraskans can.”

While the campaign has three priorities, the top priority is students. The campaign will create additional scholarships to help make education affordable, attract more students and keep them in Nebraska. It also will invest in programs such as learning communities, which help retain students, provide mentorship and guidance and ensure their timely degree completion.

The three campaign priorities are:

  • Relentless focus on student access and success ($1.6 billion) – The campaign goal is to create scholarships for every college within the university system to expand access and help the university compete for top talent. The campaign also will raise support for first-generation students, community college transfer students and areas of critical need, such as health care, engineering, information technology and teacher education; funds to create or expand programs that help retain students, such as learning communities; and funds for modern facilities that offer students contemporary, hands-on learning opportunities.
  • Enhancing faculty, academic and clinical excellence ($750 million) – The campaign seeks funds for endowed chairs and professorships to recruit and retain faculty who are a source of intellectual capital for the state as well as the inspiration and teachers of the next generation of students. It will seek support for faculty programs, many of which spin off innovations for commercialization and create new business startups.
  • Transformational research and innovation ($650 million) – The campaign seeks funds to support research and innovation that bring solutions and discoveries to the state and improve outcomes for Nebraskans. This includes health issues where Nebraskans have higher incident rates than the national average; support for agriculture; and support for areas where there is existing university expertise, such as in business, entrepreneurship, food and water security, STEM and early childhood education.

Carter said that while the campaign goal is $3 billion, many gifts are pledged over a number of years or are planned gifts coming to the university later. The private funds that are raised in the campaign can complement but not replace state funds for basic operations. More than 99% of all gifts to the University of Nebraska Foundation are restricted by donors to a specific use.

The campaign will support all campuses of the university, which include the University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska Medical Center and its clinical partner Nebraska Medicine, University of Nebraska at Omaha and Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.

The campaign priorities at UNK include:

  • $35 million for the Rural Health Education Building and programs to grow the state’s health care workforce
  • $22 million in new student scholarships
  • $10 million for endowed faculty professorships and chairs
  • $3 million for the Loper Sports Performance Network to provide a student-athlete experience that touches all aspects of an individual’s well-being, including physical, mental and academic
  • $2 million for the Calvin T. Ryan Library redevelopment project and student success programs

“UNK is a national model of excellence in accessible, quality undergraduate education. With the phenomenal support from our communities and our private partners, we can do even more for our students and our communities, address our workforce challenges and build the future Nebraska needs right now. Working together, I know we can,” UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen said.

Carey and Brian Hamilton, UNK campaign chairs, added: “We want to be a part of the continued success of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. A philanthropic gift to the university makes all the difference in the world and is the only way that the really cutting-edge things happen. The university is educating our future leaders of the state, of the nation, of the world, so we need to have innovative education to prepare them for the jobs and careers that will be available in the future.”

University of Nebraska Foundation President and CEO Brian Hastings said a major factor in the campaign’s success is its volunteers.

“More than 300 volunteers are investing their time and talent to ensure that the Only in Nebraska campaign, the largest in the university’s history, succeeds,” Hastings said. “We are grateful for their leadership and support and have no doubt this campaign will be successful thanks to their efforts.”

Barbara Weitz, a university regent and member of the campaign’s executive committee, said the Only in Nebraska campaign provides more opportunities to talk about the University of Nebraska and all it does for people and the state.

“There’s nothing more exciting than being part of something that’s bigger than yourself – something that will go on to be a legacy for our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren and many generations to come,” Weitz said. “When you invest in the University of Nebraska, you’re investing in the future. We have the opportunity to make that investment now through the Only in Nebraska campaign.”

More than half the campaign goal – $1.6 billion – has already been given or pledged toward the campaign from more than 112,000 benefactors. The campaign began in a quiet phase in 2018 and was made public today.

More information about Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future is available at

Campaign Executive Committee Members
Carey and Brian Hamilton, UNK campaign chairs
Holly and Tonn Ostergard, UNL campaign chairs
Karen and Jim Linder, UNMC and Nebraska Medicine campaign chairs
Barbara and Wally Weitz, UNO campaign chairs
Susan Buffett
Susan and Jim Clifton
Mary and Rodrigo López
Tricia and Jeff Raikes
Martha and David Slosburg
Gail and Mike Yanney
Don Voelte, ex officio
Walter Scott Jr., in memoriam