It took Lt. Col. Dennis Meredith courage and strength to serve in the Vietnam war in 1969 and 1970 with the 7th and 8th artillery units. But to have a 28-year career serving in Vietnam, Germany and at Fort Sill in Oklahoma — that took good ol’ Nebraska grit.

He was a man of the military, a trained engineer, an ROTC instructor and a student.

He spent his undergraduate years at the University of Nebraska at Omaha as a part of the bootstrap program after serving in Vietnam. His wife, Laurell Meredith, said UNO seemed to really care about his education.

“When he was writing the standard letter to get accepted into the program, the other schools were perfunctory, but UNO plotted out a whole curriculum for him,” Laurell said. “Denny said, ‘That’s where we’re going, that’s for sure.’

“As a teacher, I was impressed that there was total individual attention.”

Although neither Laurell nor Dennis were Nebraska natives, Laurell said the state evokes special memories for them. While there, her husband was challenged by his studies but thoroughly enjoyed them, she said.

“The whole community of Omaha really did welcome the veterans,” she said. “We had such happy memories there, and Denny really wanted to honor the group that he was with in Vietnam.”

In 2001, Laurell and Dennis established the Meredith B/7-8 FA Scholarship Fund through their estate plans to assist students interested in higher education at a military-friendly school.

Following Dennis’ death in 2013, Laurell wanted to see the scholarship benefit students during her lifetime. In 2015, she created an endowed fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation, so the Meredith B/7-8 FA Scholarship could be awarded while she was still living.

“I thought, I want to see some action here,” Laurell said. “Even if it begins as a smaller amount, maybe it will grow.”

At a recent reunion of the battalion, she read aloud the letter from the latest recipient of the scholarship.

Laurell described the recipient as having the ideal situation for the scholarship. He was in a bind and was so close to graduating but didn’t have the GI benefits and financial help he needed. The Meredith B/7-8 FA Scholarship enabled him to succeed.

“It was really nice to know that we helped somebody achieve a goal,” she said.
During his career in the military, Laurel said, her husband was always helping others. She described him as a people-oriented person who looked out for the troops.

Dennis died March 26, 2013, living 14 years after suffering an aortic aneurysm. Laurell said the scholarship fund is an important way for her husband’s legacy to live on while serving as a tribute to the people who served their country so faithfully and so well.

“I’m glad I have this sort of memorial to him, and you know I still miss him. He’s still a part of my life,” she said. “I just feel like this is a legacy he would’ve been proud of.”

Bill Jackman has zip lined over the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. He’s gone scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef and cage diving with sharks in South Africa. He’s navigated the Nile, run with the bulls in Pamplona, parasailed, parachuted, climbed mountains and bungee jumped off mountains. He’s done it all or, nearly, all.

Jackman has dived headfirst into life. In his 50-odd years, he’s traveled to 110 countries. That’s extensive for someone who started out in a place far less exotic. Jackman grew up in Grant, Nebraska, an ideal community with its own hospital, three grocery stores, two department stores, a bank and the best skating rink in the area. The town gave him his start, rooting him in a culture that shaped him and connecting him to a university that brought life-changing opportunities. But even though Grant was small, Jackman’s parents never thought small.

Bill Jackman

“My parents always encouraged us to go see the world,” he said. “Go see it! Why wouldn’t you go see it?”

Every summer, Jackman and his parents and brothers piled into a station wagon and set off on a road trip to someplace new. Jackman’s father was a lawyer, but he would take a month off work so he could travel with his kids and see the country.

“Those are some of the fondest memories I have,” Jackman said, “all the adventures we had.”

Jackman’s parents also valued education and worked hard to instill a lifelong appreciation for it in their sons. His mother was a teacher with a graduate degree in early childhood education. She and Jackman’s father met at the University of Nebraska while they were undergrads. His father later attended law school; Jackman’s grandmother and two aunts and an uncle attended Nebraska, too.

“Nebraska was a big part of our family,” he said.

Sports were also a big part of the family. Grant has a long history of producing great coaches and great athletes, and Jackman ended up as one of its star exports. As a student at Perkins County High School, Jackman was part of three state football championships. He also led the team to two state basketball championships and scored 214 points, a Nebraska high school boys tournament record that has only been surpassed three times since. Later, after a year at Duke University, Jackman played basketball for the Huskers from 1985 to 1987.

Playing for the team and studying at the university were foundational experiences for Jackman. He built lifelong friendships, earned a degree in finance at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business and loved his experience as a student at Nebraska, he said.
After graduation, Jackman spent three years working in Texas and then went on to play professional basketball overseas. He played in Venezuela, New Zealand, Mexico and Colombia and for teams in the U.S. (18 teams in total). That’s when his love of travel and exploration truly took hold.

While his parents encouraged him to travel and explore, Bill credits the university for giving him the courage to travel as widely as he has. “That was part of the education,” he said, “giving us the confidence to go forth and conquer, to go see what’s out there and take advantage of it.”

Bill earned an M.B.A. at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and then spent the next two decades working in financial services, rising to vice president at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and now senior vice president at UBS. For the past 19 years, he has served as a University of Nebraska Foundation trustee, devoting his time and treasure to investing in education and giving back to the university. In October, he became chair of the foundation’s board of directors.

Recently, Bill made a gift commitment to the University of Nebraska in his will, adding himself to the prestigious list of Burnett Society members. Bill said he wants to give back to a place that has shaped him, given him opportunities and experiences and introduced him to the people in his life he values. He hopes his gift can be an example to others and encourages them to follow his lead.

“We’re standing on the shoulders of a lot of other people who have given to the university,” he said. “We love this school, and it’s done amazing things for us and our families. This is a small way that we can help out, really help the next generation of people, help them do great things.”

Bill has done great things in his life. And he’s not done yet. In addition to helping the next generation at the University of Nebraska, in Grant and at the University of Chicago, where he has also pledged support, he’s working to pass on the confidence and love of learning he gained from his parents and university to his own children, who have, so far, visited more than 60 countries. He wants them to forge their own paths but also to take advantage of every opportunity and experience that the world has to offer — to dive into life, just as he has.

Not only do brothers Joe and Matt Brugger share the same birthday, but the twins also share a passion for entrepreneurship in agriculture.

While studying at the University of Nebraska‒Lincoln, the 2019 graduates were part of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, which prepares and encourages students to use our country’s strength in agriculture to develop new products, services, businesses and more.

With what Joe and Matt learned, they were able to start a business, Upstream Farms, while they were in college. It’s located at their family’s original homestead near Albion, Nebraska. Their dream is to find new ways to best steward this land and to share what they learn with young ag entrepreneurs.

The brothers say they’re grateful for the support they received for their education from the N Fund. The N Fund benefits many students while providing a convenient and meaningful way for anyone to give back to the university.

“Thank you for supporting the N Fund and students like us,” Matt said. “Without that (support), we would never have had the opportunity to pursue the passions we have found in our lives.”

Joe and Matt Brugger believe that everyone who supports Nebraska through the N Fund is ultimately investing in the lives of students. And to demonstrate their appreciation, the Bruggers plan to work hard and grow their business in the state.

“Saying thank you isn’t enough,” Joe said. “I think the only way we can show our appreciation is by doing something with it, staying in Nebraska and giving back in any possible way we can.”

Matt added, “We want to be a good investment for them.”

The N Fund represents a unified family of funds that enable one to make a difference at Nebraska. You choose to support what’s most important to you.

Visit nfund.org to learn more about the N Fund family and view the various ways to help.

Dec. 5, 2019

The Board of Regents voted today to confirm Walter “Ted” Carter, VADM (Ret.), as the eighth president of the University of Nebraska system.

Carter, the immediate past superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy whose tenure included records in graduation rates and student diversity and a top national ranking by Forbes Magazine, will begin transition work as NU’s president-elect on Dec. 16. He will assume overall leadership on Jan. 1, succeeding Interim President Susan Fritz, Ph.D.

His appointment concludes a national search launched in April that has engaged faculty, staff, students, alumni, leaders in agriculture and business, and Nebraskans across the state. After being named the Board’s priority candidate for president on Oct. 25, Carter underwent a month-long review period that included almost 30 public events in a dozen Nebraska communities.

He was unanimously supported by a 23-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee representing a range of university constituencies, and received votes of support from each NU student body president.

Carter, who with his wife Lynda will relocate from Suffolk, Va., to Nebraska, thanked the Board of Regents and people of Nebraska for their engagement and trust. He pledged to work with the chancellors, faculty, staff and students, along with NU’s many public and private partners, “to make the University of Nebraska the best it can possibly be.”

“I’m humbled to even have been considered for the University of Nebraska presidency – a job that I believe is one of the best in American higher education,” he said. “Lynda and I are excited to call Nebraska our next home. The time we’ve spent in this great state has further convinced us that Nebraska is a place that can, and will, change the world. We can’t wait to get started.”

Reporting to the Board, the president is the chief executive officer of the four-campus University of Nebraska system. The president is responsible for carrying out the strategic priorities of the Board and is the primary advocate to the Nebraska Legislature and other constituencies. Direct reports to the president include the campus chancellors and NU-wide chief business, academic, legal and information technology officers.

Board of Regents Chairman Tim Clare of Lincoln said: “When we looked at the qualities we were seeking in the next university president, Ted Carter checked every box. He puts students first and values academic excellence. He is a champion of diversity and inclusion and is a skilled relationship-builder. His character is second to none.

“The Board has high expectations, and we will measure our progress rigorously. I have full confidence in Ted’s ability to lead our university forward.”

Board Vice Chairman Jim Pillen of Columbus, who chaired the search committee, said: “Nebraskans expect their university to compete with the best institutions in the country. Together with the University of Nebraska community, Ted Carter is going to help us do that. I couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds for our university.”

Carter, 60, was superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., from 2014 to 2019, the longest continuously serving superintendent in Annapolis. As superintendent – the Naval Academy’s equivalent of a university president – Carter led 4,400 students and 1,500 faculty and staff and oversaw a $500 million budget.

The Naval Academy’s Class of 2019 achieved a record-high graduation rate of 90 percent. Carter also significantly advanced diversity and inclusion there; of the Class of 2023, 28 percent are women and 40 percent are ethnic minorities, meaning white men are no longer the majority for the first time in the academy’s 173-year history.

Additionally, Carter formed the nation’s first accredited cyber operations program, and during his tenure, the Naval Academy was ranked the nation’s No. 1 public university by Forbes Magazine. In 2018, the academy enjoyed a record-high 69 percent winning percentage across all sports.

Carter, a Distinguished Flying Cross and Bronze Star recipient, brings extensive military service, having graduated from the Navy Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun) in Miramar, Calif. He was commander for the Carrier Strike Group Twelve, in which he commanded 20 ships, two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and two carrier air wings that were deployed to Afghanistan and the Arabian Gulf. He is a naval flight officer with more than 6,300 flying hours, and has completed 2,016 carrier-arrested landings, an American record.

Carter earned his bachelor’s degree in physics and oceanography from the U.S. Naval Academy. He also has educational credentials from the 18-month-long Navy Nuclear Power School, the U.S. Air Force Air War College, the Naval War College and the Armed Forces Staff College.

Carter was raised in Burrillville, R.I., a rural, one-high school town. The Carters have two adult children.

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving when individuals have the power to give back to organizations and communities that are meaningful to them.

#GivingTuesday was founded in 2012 with a goal of inspiring people to support the causes they believe in.

This year, Giving Tuesday is on Dec. 3, 2019, directly following Black Friday and Cyber Monday ― days when many people begin their holiday shopping.

Those who wish to support causes related to the University of Nebraska on Giving Tuesday have ways to make a difference. Here are starting points that may help to locate a rewarding giving option:

University of Nebraska at Kearney
The college-going experience is not always easy, especially for students who may experience a family crisis or some other personal setback. The Student Crisis Scholarship Fund enables UNK to assist students during their difficult times.

University of Nebraska‒Lincoln
The Husker Pantry can use support this season, as nearly one in three students worry about not having enough food until they have enough money to buy more. The First-Generation Nebraska program also seeks support for the range of services and programs it provides to Huskers who are the first in their family to attend college.

University of Nebraska Medical Center
At UNMC, opportunities exist to help one of the UNMC Innovation Funds or the Munroe-Meyer Institute Century of Caring campaign as the institute begins its next 100 years of changing lives.

Nebraska Medicine
There are rewarding opportunities to support the state’s No. 1 health care network on Giving Tuesday and throughout the year.

University of Nebraska at Omaha
Food insecurity is becoming more evident on college campuses, and UNO is no exception. The Maverick Food Pantry aims to contribute to UNO’s culture of caring by providing resources to those in immediate need and connecting them with resources for long-term support.

If you’re interest in supporting the university in other ways, explore options at nufoundation.org.

About the generosity of those who support the University of Nebraska, Susan M. Fritz, interim president of the University of Nebraska, said, “Philanthropic support of the university allows it to expand its impact in ways that would otherwise not be possible. We could not be more grateful for their vision, generosity and commitment to our 51,000 students.”

The mission of the University of Nebraska Foundation is to grow relationships and resources that enable the University of Nebraska to change lives and save lives. It celebrates generosity and philanthropic activity on Giving Tuesday and throughout the year.

Contributors who give to the University of Nebraska at every level once again helped to make the university a favorite U.S. charity.

The University of Nebraska and its charitable arm, the University of Nebraska Foundation, was named for the second year in a row to America’s Favorite Charities for 2019. The top-100 ranking was released by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a national publication that focuses on the U.S. nonprofit sector.

The University of Nebraska came in at No. 87 in the Chronicle’s evaluation of the total charitable contributions that nonprofits received in cash and stocks, up from No. 96 last year. The evaluation doesn’t include government grants or donated products.

Susan M. Fritz, interim president of the University of Nebraska, said philanthropic support of the university allows it to expand its impact in ways that would otherwise not be possible.

“Our donors are helping us keep education affordable for students, recruit and retain the very best faculty and conduct research that changes lives in Nebraska and around the world,” she said. “We could not be more grateful for their vision, generosity and commitment to our 51,000 students.”

The America’s Favorite Charities ranking places the University of Nebraska in the company with many of its peer universities and the likes of the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Harvard University and others.

Universities and colleges account for 39 of the groups that made the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s favorite charities list. Health care organizations were the second-highest group with 14 included.

No other nonprofit organization in Nebraska made the top 100 charities list.

The University of Nebraska Foundation currently manages more than 11,500 funds that benefit the universitywide system. More than 99% of all donated assets are restricted by contributors for specific use by the university.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, it evaluated giving to universities and colleges by using data from the 2018 Annual Voluntary Support of Education survey, which is conducted by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

The Chronicle’s announcement, including the top 100 list of organizations, is available in this PDF document.