University of Nebraska receives record $354.5 million in private support

58,072 donors made a gift during the fiscal year ending June 30

LINCOLN – The University of Nebraska Foundation announced a record $354.5 million in new funds committed for the fiscal year ending June 30, as Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future helped to inspire philanthropic support for the state’s only public university system. In addition, 58,072 donors made a gift, the second-best year for the number of individual supporters.

This marks the fourth consecutive year that the new funds committed total has eclipsed $300 million.

“It is a tremendous accomplishment to raise $354 million in private support in a single year,” University of Nebraska System President Ted Carter said. “I continue to be humbled by the remarkable support the University of Nebraska receives from both our private and public partners. These results show that the Only in Nebraska campaign resonates with our supporters. The campaign’s ultimate impact goes well beyond the numbers. It’s about changing the lives of students, growing the workforce and sustaining a vibrant, competitive university that serves people in Nebraska and around the world.”

Announced in 2022, the Only in Nebraska campaign is a historic, multiyear effort to engage at least 150,000 benefactors to give $3 billion to support University of Nebraska students, faculty, academic and clinical programs and research to address the needs of the state. As of June 30, $1.96 billion has been raised from 129,787 unique donors toward the campaign goals.

Donors supported all campuses: 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. Gifts came from alumni, friends of the university, foundations and corporations.

Projects receiving philanthropic support include the UNK-UNMC Rural Health Education Building on the UNK campus, Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine, a new innovation and excellence fund at UNO and scholarships for University of Nebraska College of Law students, UNMC pharmacy and nursing students and UNO fine arts and communications students, as well as many other initiatives.

“Donors understand the power of a University of Nebraska degree. Our supporters are committed to ensuring a high-quality, affordable education for Nebraska students and to investing in faculty who are an important source of intellectual capital for our state,” said Brian Hastings, president and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation. “Vital investments in lifesaving research and innovation are occurring because of this extraordinary level of commitment from the philanthropic community.”

The foundation reports all fundraising results in accordance with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Global Reporting Standards, which governs reporting for educational philanthropy at schools, colleges and universities across the globe.

Highlights from the fiscal year include the following:

  • Donors created 112 new endowed funds and 56 new expendable funds to support students with scholarships and other assistance.
  • Four campus giving days were a source of new donors to the University of Nebraska and allowed the foundation to achieve its second-best year for the number of individual donors. Glow Big Red at UNL, Wear Black, Give Back at UNO, One Day for UNK and UNMC Giving Day – For the Greater Good raised a combined $1.75 million from 8,798 unique donors.
A public-private partnership, the UNK-UNMC Rural Health Education Building is slated for completion in November 2025 on the UNK campus.
A public-private partnership, the UNK-UNMC Rural Health Education Building is slated for completion in November 2025 on the UNK campus.

Many gifts were received during the fiscal year to support the three primary areas of the Only in Nebraska campaign:

Relentless focus on student access and success
  • The Holland Foundation established a permanently endowed scholarship fund to provide financial assistance to students pursuing their education in UNO’s College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media.
  • UNMC College of Nursing Dean Juliann Sebastian, who recently retired, left a lasting parting gift by creating a scholarship to support nursing students. To honor her legacy in nursing, the Leland J. and Dorothy H. Olson Charitable Foundation of Omaha also established a scholarship fund in Sebastian’s name.
  • Carol Krutsinger of Norfolk honored her late husband, Ron, by making a $1 million gift to create a permanent endowment to support the Nebraska Beef Industry Scholars Program and provide scholarship support to students at NCTA and in UNL’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
  • Dan and Judy O’Neill of North Platte created two new endowed scholarships at UNK in honor of Dan’s parents, Sam and Margaret Ellen O’Neill, who lived in Sumner. The Thomas J. “Sam” and Margaret Ellen O’Neill College of Business and Technology Endowed Scholarship Fund and Thomas J. “Sam” and Margaret Ellen O’Neill College of Education Endowed Scholarship Fund provide support for students in the colleges of Business and Technology and Education.
  • Philanthropic support was raised for the Rural Health Education Building, a UNK-UNMC project that’s designed to meet the urgent need for health care workers in rural Nebraska. A public-private partnership, the project has a $95 million budget and is slated for completion in November 2025.
  • Greater Omaha Packing Co., a supplier of premium beef, made a $700,000 pledged gift to support construction of the Feedlot Innovation Center at UNL’s Eastern Nebraska Research, Extension and Education Center near Mead. The center will provide new capacity to develop and evaluate emerging technology used in managing animals in feedlot settings. It also will include instructional classrooms and provide students with hands-on experiences as they’re exposed to the newest research and technology.
Enhancing faculty, academic and clinical excellence
  • Barbara and Wally Weitz made a $25 million gift commitment, with $14 million pledged to establish the Weitz Innovation and Excellence Fund to be awarded to strategic UNO priorities. The fund’s purpose is to elevate particularly good programs to nationally recognized ones while addressing critical areas of need in Omaha and the state of Nebraska. Other aspects of the gift will create an endowed chair in higher education leadership, to be attached to the UNO chancellor’s position, and help to redevelop a historic building into the Student Success and Activity Center at NCTA.
  • The Acklie Charitable Foundation pledged a landmark gift to the University of Nebraska College of Law. The gift will establish a permanent endowment for the Children’s Justice Clinic, which gives legal representation to vulnerable Nebraska children, and provide ongoing support for the College of Law’s other law clinics. Another aspect of the gift will provide approximately 80 scholarships annually, as well as other financial support, to law students.
Transformational research and innovation
  • The foundation successfully secured the funds necessary to qualify for $15 million in state match funding for the Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence. The center’s stated goal is to find a cure for pancreatic cancer.
  • Joe Williams, who died in 2021 and graduated from the UNMC College of Pharmacy in 1950, made a $20 million gift to the college through his estate. His gift creates a matching fund to spur giving in support of students, faculty and programs, and further develops the UNMC Center for Drug Discovery. The gift also creates an endowed deanship for the College of Pharmacy and establishes scholarships for pharmacy students.