Private gifts establish learning commons at UNL’s East Campus library
Private donors with a desire to invest in the student learning experience have made it possible for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to move forward with a $22.5 million renovation and redevelopment of the C.Y. Thompson Library on East Campus.
Gifts to the University of Nebraska Foundation for this privately funded project include a leadership contribution from UNL alumni and philanthropists Ruth and Bill Scott of Omaha. Their gift was provided as a challenge to encourage others to contribute and to offer the option for someone to name the new student learning commons.
The Dinsdale family of Nebraska, in response to the Scotts’ lead challenge gift, made a major gift commitment to the project. The gift was made by Sid Dinsdale, Chris Dinsdale and Jane Dinsdale Rogers in honor of their father, Roy G. Dinsdale; and by Lynn Dinsdale Marchese and Tom Dinsdale in honor of their father, the late John “Jack” A. Dinsdale.
The new learning space will be named the Dinsdale Family Learning Commons in honor of the Dinsdale brothers, pending approval by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.
Roy Dinsdale graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1948. Jack Dinsdale, who died in 2010, also attended the university, but his studies were interrupted by World War II and U.S. Army service from 1942 to 1946. As brothers and business partners, Roy and Jack Dinsdale grew the family agriculture and banking businesses into what is today Pinnacle Bancorp Inc., the holding company which includes Pinnacle Bank.
“Students are at the core of what we do, so we are especially grateful for the generosity of Ruth and Bill Scott and the Dinsdale family for recognizing and embracing the vision of a new student learning commons on our East Campus,” said UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green. “This reimagined space designed for 21st-century studying and learning will benefit thousands of students, and we foresee a busy and active area full of engaged students.”
Ruth and Bill Scott said they are pleased to help make attending UNL an even richer experience for students.
“We hope that this will be a place where students want to congregate to spend time together and that it will be a hub that encourages students, teachers and the broader community to explore, create, collaborate and have some fun,” Ruth Scott said. “We are delighted the Dinsdale family also understands the importance of this student initiative, and we certainly hope others choose to help now as well.”
About the Dinsdale family’s support for the project, Sid Dinsdale said, “With our family roots in agriculture, we think providing resources to upgrade the East Campus makes sense. We consider this a gift that will benefit our entire state, and it is a privilege to partner with the Scott family on this project.”
Few updates have been made to the C.Y. Thompson Library since it opened in 1966, but the way students study and learn has changed significantly. Increasingly, students are interactive learners who depend on having technology available at all times, communicate via social media and study collaboratively.
Construction will launch in August with completion in time for the 2021 spring semester. Renovation and redevelopment of the library will include the new student learning commons to incorporate academics, research and community into one central hub of resources there. Many fundamental concepts of the learning commons will be borrowed from the privately funded Adele Coryell Hall Learning Commons located on UNL’s City Campus at Love Library which opened in 2016 and is used by thousands of students each week for studying, peer collaboration and access to learning resources.
The Dinsdale Family Learning Commons will reflect students’ increasing use of online and digital information and research and will enhance interdisciplinary connections through spaces where students can gather to study and collaborate. Plans call for a technologically rich space that will facilitate both individual and group study with virtual access to thousands of e-books, e-journals and academic articles.
The printed word, however, will not go away. A power library will house a 25,000-volume collection of the most recent, unique and active parts of the print collection. Faculty and staff also will benefit from cutting-edge technologies and instruction resources.
The library division within the facility will continue to be named the C.Y. Thompson Library.
Additionally, the redeveloped space will provide a central location for the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, the East Campus Visitors Center and the Student Testing Center.
The University of Nebraska Foundation is seeking additional contributions for the project.
About the lead donors
Ruth and Bill Scott
Bill and Ruth Scott
Ruth and Bill Scott are deeply rooted and invested in the community where they have lived most of their lives and the state they call home.
Over the years, the Scott family has made extraordinary and transformational private investments in the University of Nebraska. Examples of their philanthropy are found on each of the four main campuses of the University of Nebraska statewide system, and they have been instrumental leaders in making the University of Nebraska Medical Center a world-class academic health science center.
In 2009 the University of Nebraska Board of Regents presented Ruth and Bill Scott with its most prestigious award, the Regents Medal, for their extraordinary contributions to the university’s academic programs, scholarships and facilities.
Bill Scott is a 1953 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business. The Ashland, Nebraska, native joined Buffett Partnership in 1959 and Berkshire Hathaway in 1970 where he remained until the early 1990s.
Ruth Scott, also a native of Ashland, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1951. She went on to teach school and later founded the Omaha Bridge Studio where she teaches “the game everyone should play.”
Jack and Roy Dinsdale
Roy Dinsdale (left) and Jack Dinsdale
Brothers John A. “Jack” and Roy G. Dinsdale were business partners for 63 years with primary interests in banking and agriculture. They were born in Palmer, Nebraska, to George and Rena Dinsdale and graduated from Palmer High School.
Jack Dinsdale attended the University of Nebraska for business administration when his college career was interrupted by World War II. He entered the U.S. Army in 1942 and was discharged in 1946. While in the Army, he met Gretchen Poggemeyer in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and they married and raised two children in Nebraska: Tom and Lynn. Jack Dinsdale died in 2010 at age 92.
Roy Dinsdale met Gloria Stephens, who grew up in McCook and Grand Island, while they were studying at the University of Nebraska, where Roy studied business administration, graduating in 1948, and Gloria studied education, graduating in 1949. They married after graduating and raised three children: Sid, Chris and Jane.
In 1948, Roy and Jack Dinsdale joined their father, George Dinsdale, and their uncle, Tom Dinsdale, in helping lead the family’s businesses, which were founded in the late 1800s. Roy and Jack started expanding their banking business from State Bank in Palmer by purchasing the National Bank of Neligh in 1958. This was the forerunner of Pinnacle Bancorp, Inc., the holding company which includes Pinnacle Bank in Nebraska. Using a community bank model still in use today, Pinnacle Bank has 67 locations across the state.
The entire Dinsdale family and their primary business, Pinnacle Bank, are known for their generous contributions of time and philanthropic support to the University of Nebraska and various other organizations and community endeavors.
About the University of Nebraska Foundation
The University of Nebraska Foundation grows relationships and resources that enable the University of Nebraska to change lives and save lives. Among U.S. public universities, total annual gifts in support of the University of Nebraska and its affiliates rank in the top 15, and its $1.7 billion total endowment is in the top 25. Donors restrict 99 percent of all gifts and assets to a specific use by the university. The foundation was named to America’s Favorite Charities in 2018 by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. More information is at nufoundation.org.