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'Only in Nebraska': NU announces $3 billion fundraising campaign

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The University of Nebraska on Friday announced a campaign to raise $3 billion to support students and faculty, as well as academic and research programs.

Launched in an online event for NU employees, "Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University's Future" also aims to engage more than 150,000 donors.

Kiewit Hall, 11.18

Construction continues Friday on Kiewit Hall, the new headquarters for the College of Engineering on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.

Since 2018, the campaign has raised more than $1.6 billion to support university efforts from 112,000 private donors during a quiet phase of fundraising.

More than 300 volunteers are leading and supporting the campaign, with chairs for each campus spearheading those efforts, according to Brian Hastings, president and CEO of the NU Foundation.

NU President Ted Carter said "Only in Nebraska" will help the state's only public university system to meet the "needs of students, our state, and the workforce."

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

The campaign, which will benefit NU's campuses in Lincoln, Omaha, and Kearney, as well as the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis, has three priorities.

The first is to provide $1.6 billion in support for first-generation students, community college transfers in "areas of critical need" like health care, engineering, information technology and teacher education, as well as retention efforts across the university system.

Donations will provide scholarships to students, while also expanding retention efforts, and ensuring the university has modern facilities for learning to occur, the campaign said.

Second, "Only in Nebraska" will also provide $750 million to create endowed chairs and professorships and bolster other programs for faculty, including support for discoveries that lead into commercialization and new businesses.

Finally, the campaign will inject $650 million into research and innovation in areas where NU has established itself as a leader, like human health, agriculture, food and water security, STEM, and early childhood education.

As it moves into the public phase of its effort, "Only in Nebraska" dwarfs previous comprehensive campaigns in its goals and potential amount raised.

In the late 1970s, the "A Commitment to Excellence" campaign more than doubled its $25 million goal in raising $51 million to provide a boost to the university's offerings.

Between 1993 and 2000, the "One Nebraska, One University" campaign sought to raise $375 million; donors ultimately gave more than $727 million.

And the "Unlimited Possibilities" campaign raised nearly $1.9 billion between 2005 and 2014, well over its goal of $1.2 billion.

Regent Barbara Weitz of Omaha, who is on the campaign's executive committee, said the newest campaign was an investment in the future of both the university 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.

At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, fundraising efforts will go to support scholarships and other student support, the NU Foundation said in a news release.

Along with scholarships for students, philanthropic giving has also been instrumental in supporting the College of Engineering, including Kiewit Hall, as the university seeks to address a major workforce shortage in the state.

Other UNL initiatives that have or will benefit from the Only in Nebraska campaign include a dedicated home for the School of Computing -- the university is eyeing a standalone building for the new school -- as well as an expansion of the Lied Center for Performing Arts and the new athletic training complex.

Funds raised -- 99% of the money received by the NU Foundation is earmarked for specific purposes, and private donations can't replace state-supported operations -- will also help programs and building projects at other campuses.

At the University of Nebraska at Kearney, for example, donations will round out funding for the Rural Health Education Building, while at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, private donations have helped create Centers of Excellence to build strengths in cancer research, immunotherapy research and other areas.

UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green said the new campaign, like fundraising efforts that have come before it, will "impact generations to come" as UNL seeks to become a world-leading land grant university.

"Just as we stand on the shoulders of those who came before, they will stand on ours," he said. "It is an awesome responsibility and opportunity."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS



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