2018 award recipients Ostergards and Milliken Smith

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Foundation’s highest 2018 honors go to Milliken and Smith for development service, Ostergards for volunteer service

About this photo: Tonn and Holly Ostergard (third and fourth from the left) are honored with the Branch Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service, and Nana Smith and J.B. Milliken (fourth and fifth from the left) are honored with the Noddle Award for Distinguished Development Service on Oct. 19, 2018, in Lincoln at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Presenting the awards are NU Foundation Board Chair JoAnn Martin (left) and NU Foundation President and CEO Brian Hastings (right).

J.B. Milliken and Nana Smith of Austin and Tonn and Holly Ostergard of Lincoln are the 2018 recipients of the University of Nebraska Foundation’s two highest awards for service.

The University of Nebraska Foundation has announced the 2018 recipients of its highest awards: the Harlan J. Noddle Award for Distinguished Development Service and the Perry W. Branch Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service. The recipients were recognized at the foundation’s annual meeting of trustees on Oct. 19, 2018.

James B. Milliken and Nana Smith receive Harlan J. Noddle Award

University of Nebraska President Emeritus J.B. Milliken and his wife, Nana Smith, were conferred the Harlan J. Noddle Award for Distinguished Development Service in recognition of the years they advocated for the university and for their involvement with private philanthropy for the university.

JoAnn Martin, chair of the University of Nebraska board of directors and CEO of Ameritas, said J.B. Milliken and Nana Smith represent an incredible team.

“Together, they made a lasting mark on the University of Nebraska because of their understanding of philanthropy and their ability to build deep and abiding relationships,” Martin said. “During his decade of leadership, J.B. established a reputation as a relationship builder. He led initiatives that resulted in expanded access, enrollment growth, increases in research, a successful campaign and an emphasis on global engagement and workforce development.”

The Noddle Award honors longtime University of Nebraska advocate Harlan Noddle of Omaha, who served as chair of the NU Foundation board of directors, among many other volunteer roles. Noddle died in 2005, and the award was created in his memory by his family and the university to recognize university employees who assist with fundraising efforts on behalf of the university and who exemplify Noddle’s initiative, honesty, integrity, compassion, commitment, foresight, tolerance and diligence.

In helping announce the award, Nebraska business leader and former NU Board of Regent Jim McClurg said he remembers many hours in meetings with Milliken and others to mobilize different groups of individuals to form a strategy and vision so that everyone was pulling in the same direction.

“I’ve always felt that J.B. clearly understands the role of post-secondary education in society, and part of that is bringing people together to a strategy and to a vision that fulfills that role and that obligation,” McClurg said.

VIDEO: See video honoring J.B. Smith and Nana Smith

J.B. Milliken served as president of the University of Nebraska from 2004 to 2014 and represented the first alumnus to serve as its leader. He led the university’s largest comprehensive campaign in its history, securing more than $1.8 billion in contributions for all areas of our statewide system. Several significant gifts during the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities are attributed to his influence and fundraising expertise.

Nana was J.B.’s support in all of these activities and achievements. She helped to engage donors, students, faculty, public officials and others, all while serving as an active community volunteer.

Milliken and Smith currently serve the University of Texas, where Milliken is chancellor of the UT System.

“It is the obligation of good leaders to leave your place of work in much better shape than they found it,” said Mogens Bay, executive chairman of Valmont Industries of Omaha. “Nana and J.B. definitely did that for the University of Nebraska, and for that we’re grateful.”

Tonn and Holly Ostergard receive Perry W. Branch Award

University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumni Tonn and Holly Ostergard are this year’s recipients of the Perry W. Branch Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service.

“Tonn and Holly are tireless,” said Brian Hastings, president and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation. “Their work ethic is tremendous. Their passion for the university … and for what the university means for the benefit of the state — it’s second to none.”

The Branch Award is named for Perry W. Branch, the first employee of the University of Nebraska Foundation, and serves to commemorate the importance of volunteers to the organization. The foundation was founded in 1936 during the Great Depression and was an all-volunteer organization for the first several years of operation.

VIDEO: See video honoring Tonn and Holy Ostergard

In helping to recognize Tonn and Holly Ostergard, Lincoln business leader and philanthropist Jim Abel said, “They have touched the university in so many different ways. They are very passionate people, and when Tonn and Holly believe in a project, they go after it.”

Donde Plowman, UNL’s chief academic officer and past dean of the UNL College of Business, worked closely with the Ostergards on fundraising initiatives for the College of Business during the university’s most recent comprehensive campaign. It was during the campaign that the need for a new College of Business building came into focus, representing the largest ever privately-funded academic project at UNL.

“One of the things about partnering with Tonn Ostergard is that he believes in dreaming big,” Plowman said. “I had big ideas for the College of Business, and Tonn’s were even bigger. So even though he and Holly were willing to get behind those ideas and push us … I always knew I could call and ask for advice.

“They gave us their time and their own resources, but one of the most amazing things about Tonn and Holly was that they got inspired, and they turned and asked their friends to also get behind the dream. And that was really the turning point for making Hawks Hall a reality.”

Tonn and Holly have provided years of volunteer service to the university and its foundation and have served as trustees of the NU Foundation since 1993. Tonn was a member of the foundation’s board of directors from 2008 to 2017 and is a past board chair.

They took leadership roles during the last comprehensive campaign, Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities by serving as co-chairs for the Nebraska College of Business and serving on the UNL campaign committee.

They also served on the national campaign committee for the university’s previous campaign in the 1990s.

Tonn is president and CEO of Crete Carrier Corporation, one of the largest privately-owned transportation companies in the nation. An active volunteer, Holly has served on numerous community boards.

“Looking at the values of the University of Nebraska, they align very closely with the values of my parents, and I think that is one of the biggest motivating factors for them to give so much of their time and efforts back to the university,” said Winston Ostergard, Tonn and Holly Ostergard’s son.

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