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

Friday, November 18, 2022 - 4:00pm

On Nov. 18, 2022, University of Nebraska System President Ted Carter, joined by the chancellors of the four University of Nebraska campuses, announced 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 for areas of critical need, such as in 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, the University of Nebraska‒Lincoln, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.

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.

Examples of campaign priorities for each campus include:

  • UNK – Scholarships and other student support; endowed faculty professorships and chairs; creation of the UNK-UNMC Rural Health Education Building and programs to grow the health care workforce, especially in rural areas of the state; redevelopment of the Calvin T. Ryan Library to include a modern student learning commons to provide a variety of student success programs; and 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.
  • UNL – Scholarships and other student support; endowed faculty professorships and chairs; investments in the College of Engineering to address the state’s severe shortage of engineers and computer scientists by completing Kiewit Hall and creating a dedicated home for the School of Computing; creation of a world-class arts educational experience by expanding the Lied Center for Performing Arts to include a new studio theater, enhanced guest entrance and renovated guest facilities; support for athletic facilities and student-athlete support through the GO BIG Training and Student Support Facility, which includes a new locker room, strength complex, athletic medicine area, equipment room, meeting spaces, academic and life skills center and more for all student-athletes.
  • UNMC and Nebraska Medicine – Scholarships and other student support; endowed faculty professorships and chairs; creation of Centers of Excellence to build on strengths in cancer, immunotherapies, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease, women’s health research, behavioral health, chronic care management, health equity and other areas; Project NExT (Nebraska Transformation Project) to educate the next generation of Nebraska’s health care workforce and those responding to infectious diseases while advancing research and providing patients with the best quality care possible; a Health Science Education Expansion Facility to serve as the new home for the College of Allied Health Professions as well as to provide additional educational and teaching laboratory space for other expanding health science education programs including those in the College of Public Health, College of Nursing and College of Dentistry.
  • UNO Scholarships and other student support; endowed faculty professorships and chairs; a new space in Omaha’s Aksarben Village called UNO=ECO, an integrated learning center where education, community and business can come together; expansion and renovation of facilities to support STEM education, such as renovation of Allwine Hall and expansion of the Peter Kiewit Institute; creation of Samuel Bak Museum: The Learning Center to allow UNO to house works by renowned artist and Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak while serving as home to events and engagement opportunities on issues of genocide, human rights, the Holocaust and artistic expression.
  • NCTA – Scholarships and other student support and the Student Activity and Success Center to bring together advising services, career counseling, dining, clubs and extracurricular activities.

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

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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


What others are saying about Only in Nebraska

“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.”

Carey and Brian Hamilton, UNK Campaign Chairs

“The University of Nebraska is doing a great job of finding ways to deliver education in the most cost-effective and efficient way and making sure that educational opportunity is affordable. The university is also the driver of workforce development in many ways, and as our state grows and as diverse employment opportunities expand, the university is the place that’s going to develop the needed skill sets.”

Holly and Tonn Ostergard, UNL Campaign Chairs

“Philanthropy is an essential element in helping the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine fulfill their roles and missions. It’s just so exciting seeing new programs developed, novel research conducted, outstanding education delivered, recruitment of outstanding faculty and, of course, extraordinary medical care provided. If you think about the purpose of a university, its key goals are to help people maximize their human potential through education and to serve as the catalyst that drives innovation in our state.”

Karen and Jim Linder, UNMC and Nebraska Medicine Campaign Chairs

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