University of Nebraska Foundation celebrates 85 years of generosity

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The University of Nebraska Foundation kicks off the celebration of its 85th year of service on June 3, 2021. It was on this date in 1936 that Nebraska citizens answered the plea of University of Nebraska Chancellor Edgar Burnett to help create a university greater than what the state alone could afford.

VIDEO: Brief History of the University of Nebraska Foundation

Today, as when it was founded, the University of Nebraska Foundation is focused on its mission to grow relationships and resources that enable the University of Nebraska to change lives and save lives.

Dorothy Thai is a recipient of the Edward J. Cornish Scholarship, the oldest existing scholarship at the University of Nebraska.

Dorothy Thai of Lincoln is one example of this mission in action. She holds the university’s longest-running scholarship, created by Edward J. Cornish in 1937. As a food science and technology major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, she looks forward to a career using her education and passion for cooking and baking.

Thai said the Cornish Scholarship and other private aid she’s received comes at a particularly important time, as the COVID-19 pandemic has added unplanned financial stress on her.

“If I could personally thank Edward Cornish, I would tell him, first of all, thank you for putting your time and money towards education for so many future students like me,” Thai said. “And secondly, thank you for entrusting your funds to a university that has the heart to look past the cultural and ethnic differences that continue to divide this world today. UNL has so much diversity that I am proud to be a part of. I am forever grateful for everyone who has made my education possible and that of so many others.”

It is Thai and others like her who make the foundation’s 85th anniversary so meaningful, said University of Nebraska Foundation President and CEO Brian Hastings.

“Our strength today, as at our founding, is due to our volunteers — our trustees and our board and committee members who freely give of their time — and our contributors who made scholarships possible for Dorothy Thai and thousands like her,” Hastings said. “Because of our volunteers and contributors, about $200 million is made available to the university and its affiliates every year.

“This generosity creates scholarships, helps recruit and retain top faculty, supports life-changing and transformational research and provides extraordinary medical care.”

Today, the University of Nebraska Foundation remains a top 20 fundraising organization among public universities and generates $6.53 in gifts for every dollar invested in its operations.

Just as Edward Cornish had foresight in creating an endowment to help future generations of students, Dorothy Thai is also thinking ahead about how she can express her gratitude for scholarship support while helping others.

“These scholarships mean so much to me and have inspired me to start my own scholarship fund sometime in the future,” she said.

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