University of Nebraska supporters mark record year

Nancy Keegan of Los Angeles, the outgoing chair of the University of Nebraska Foundation, with Clarence Castner, president, announced the record-breaking private support figure on Oct. 28.
Nancy Keegan of Los Angeles, the outgoing chair of the University of Nebraska Foundation, with Clarence Castner, president, announced the record-breaking private support figure on Oct. 28.

Alumni and friends of the University of Nebraska demonstrated their generosity this year by giving the most private support in history. Donors gave more than $172.1 million to the University of Nebraska Foundation during the fiscal year ending June 30, making it the best year ever in its 75-year history.

More than $130.2 million was transferred to the university’s statewide system during the same period, also representing a record.

This is the sixth consecutive year annual gifts to the foundation exceeded $100 million. The previous best year was 2008 when $166.5 million was given.

“This is truly a remarkable achievement by the many people, companies and organizations who show they care very much about the mission and academic quality of the University of Nebraska,” said Nancy Keegan of Los Angeles, chair of the University of Nebraska Foundation board of directors. “We cannot thank them enough for making this impressive investment in Nebraska’s higher education.”

This is the fourth consecutive year more than $100 million in private funds was transferred to the university from the foundation. Funds transferred benefit areas as designated by the donors. More than $23.6 million was provided for student support; $5.1 million for faculty support; $7.1 million for research; $30.4 million for academic programs; $5.1 million for museums, libraries and fine arts programs; $57.9 million for campus and capital improvements; and $1 million to support each of the four university alumni associations.

Funds transferred from the foundation helped ease the financial burden of attending college for many students, Keegan said, and about 10,000 scholarships were awarded across the university for the 2010-2011 academic year.

The market value of the foundation’s total assets was $1.7 billion on June 30, also a record, and represents a 17.7 percent increase from last year. The foundation’s main endowment realized a return of 22.6 percent for the year; this performance ranked among the top 9 percent of major institutional endowments in the nation.

Gifts to the foundation this fiscal year also supported the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities, the University of Nebraska’s fundraising initiative. Gifts to the campaign have now exceeded $1 billion toward the goal of raising $1.2 billion by 2014 to meet high-priority opportunities and needs of the university. The campaign started in 2005.

“During this campaign, an impressive 33,000 individuals and organizations have given to the university for the very first time,” said Clarence Castner, president of the University of Nebraska Foundation. “The priorities of the university have captured their attention. More than 69,000 households and organizations have contributed so far, and nearly 60 percent are from Nebraska. So far their generosity has established nearly 3,000 new funds to benefit the university, in many cases in perpetuity.”

Castner said the highest campaign priority, as established by university leadership, is to help ensure the university remains accessible by increasing private support for student financial aid and student global engagement opportunities. Increasing support focused on retaining and recruiting top faculty members is a priority as well. The campaign also focuses on areas where the university has the greatest potential to excel, including cancer research and treatment; agriculture and life sciences; water and natural resources; early childhood education; information technology; and architectural engineering and construction.

A sample of major campaign projects and gifts over the past year, including outright gifts and gifts pledged over time, that affect UNL include:

• Leadership gift from Susie Buffett to create the Buffett Early Childhood Institute
• Leadership gift from the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation to create the Daugherty Water for Food Institute.
• $1 million from World’s Foremost Bank for a student scholarship endowment
• $1.2 million from Sally and Wil Hergenrader for engineering faculty support
• $150,000 gift from Carol Swarts for a biological engineering teaching lab
• Major gift from Professor Steve Baenziger to support small grains research

At the foundation’s Oct. 28 annual meeting of trustees, Nancy Keegan was recognized for her two-year volunteer service as chair of the board of directors. Peter J. Whitted, a physician from Omaha, was welcomed as the new chair. Tonn Ostergard, president and CEO of Crete Carrier of Lincoln, was announced as chair-elect.

Trustees also elected Karen Himle of Hopkins, Minn., and Tim Daugherty of Omaha as new directors to the board for three-year terms.

For more information about the University of Nebraska Foundation’s annual report and audited financial statements, go to

- Robb Crouch, NU Foundation

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