New fund will assist UNO students in breaking international barriers

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Former University of Nebraska President Ronald Roskens and wife, Lois, of Omaha have provided a gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation to give students in the College of Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) the opportunity for a meaningful international educational experience.

The Roskenses’ gift establishes the Ronald W. and Lois G. Roskens International Experience Fund. This endowed fund is the first of its kind for the College of Education.

“The fund will enable our students to experience different cultures, gain understanding of the world and develop skills required to work and teach in an environment where divisions between nations are decreasing,” says Nancy Edick, dean of the college. “Thanks to the Roskenses’ generous support, our college can offer students a well-rounded education that extends far beyond a traditional classroom.”

Such global engagement is a key priority for the Foundation’s Campaign for Nebraska and for UNO – to give every undergraduate student the opportunity for an international experience through classes, internships, research opportunities, exchange visits or service learning.

Dr. Ronald and Lois Roskens have devoted much of their lives to fostering increased understanding between persons and nations through international exchange.

Dr. Roskens served as chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 1972 to 1977. He was named president of the University of Nebraska in 1977, a post he held for 13 years. Under his leadership, the university became a premier international institution whose programs and people have a global impact.

He brought an international perspective to the university, developing programs with universities in Asia, Latin America, Europe, Japan and China. He also negotiated an exchange program with Kabul University in Afghanistan and oversaw development of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at UNO.

In 1984, the president of West Germany presented Dr. Roskens with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed Dr. Roskens to administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and in 1997 he founded Global Connections, a business consulting firm based in Omaha.

In 2010, he received one of Japan’s most prestigious awards, The Order of the Rising Sun (Gold and Silver Stars). The Emperor of Japan presented the award to Dr. Roskens for his international focus and activities, as well as his educational, business and civic connections with the country.

Lois G. Roskens taught first grade after graduating from college and devoted her life to education. She has been involved in many international activities, as well.

“I am so convinced that we do not live in a small part of the world – we live in the whole world,” says Dr. Roskens. “We need, therefore, to be educated in a global context. When it was proposed by the dean of the college that this fund would bring tremendous international focus, we concluded that this is what we would like to support.”

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