Seacrest donation to permanently support Fine and Performing Arts

James and Rhonda Seacrest
James and Rhonda Seacrest

The University of Nebraska Foundation and the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts announced a major gift from James and Rhonda Seacrest prior to the Oct. 6 UNL Symphony Orchestra concert. The announcement was made during a Kimball Hall reception honoring the couple.

The Seacrests made the contribution to create the James C. and Rhonda Seacrest Program Excellence Fund. The fund is a permanent endowment that will support the college forever. The amount of the gift is not disclosed.

“James and Rhonda Seacrest's generosity to the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts — in terms of their time, energy and philanthropy — is truly noteworthy and immensely appreciated,” said Christin Mamiya, interim dean and professor of art history. “We are inspired by their commitment to student and faculty excellence and know that this gift will benefit our students for years to come.”

The Seacrest Program Excellence Fund will support all three departments in the college — art and art history, music, and theatre and film — for activities and initiatives that promote student excellence, including scholarships, fellowships, awards, travel, exhibitions and performances.

“Jim and Rhonda Seacrest are true visionaries, who have given so much to the University of Nebraska,” said Lucy Buntain Comine, director of development for Fine and Performing Arts at the NU Foundation. “We are grateful for their continued support. They have a long history of making our students' dreams come true, from their support of the UNL Opera program to the creation of the Chamber/Opera Orchestra. This gift for the entire college will continue that legacy.”

James Seacrest graduated from UNL in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. The Seacrest family owned and published newspapers in Lincoln, Scottsbluff and North Platte. Since leaving the newspaper business, the Seacrests have given their time, talent and financial support to many UNL projects.

Their support has touched many areas at the university, including the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, the College of Business Administration, Sheldon Museum of Art, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications and the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.

In 2008, James Seacrest received the Nebraska Builder's Award, the highest honor given annually to individuals who have been “builders” of UNL through their philanthropy.

Their previous donations to the NU Foundation for the School of Music funded two trips to Ireland for the UNL Opera program to compete in the Waterford Light Opera Festivals in 2002 and 2007. The program won Best Opera during the 2007 festival. Their gifts have also helped support a chamber/opera orchestra and the creation of the Ariel Bybee Professorship, among many others.

The couple currently serves as co-chairs of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts Campaign Committee. The college has established a goal of raising $20 million as part of the University of Nebraska Foundation's Campaign for Nebraska and has currently raised more than $16 million toward that goal.

“Jim and Rhonda Seacrest's leadership in the campaign has been invaluable,” Mamiya said. “And thanks to generous gifts like this one from the Seacrests, we continue to get closer to our campaign goal.”

— Kathe Andersen, Fine and Performing Arts

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