Foundation celebrates record $320.4 million in 2020 support

The University of Nebraska received $320.4 million in philanthropic gifts and commitments in fiscal year 2020, compared to $290.5 million the previous year. The gifts came from 53,355 individuals and organizations and represents a record year for new funds committed.

“Those who supported the university with a gift of any amount are the true difference-makers, without whom our university would not be what it is today,” said Brian Hastings, president and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation. “And, as a result of the pandemic, their support has been more important than ever. We are extremely grateful for their generosity.”

Benefactors designated gifts to various university priorities that ensure affordability, accessibility and workforce development. New gifts supported students in the College of Business Administration and College of Information Science and Technology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, students in biology at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, undergraduate student researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and nursing students at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. In all, the University of Nebraska awarded privately funded scholarships to more than 10,000 students in the fiscal year.

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University of Nebraska System President Ted Carter thanked donors for making Nebraska a “shining example” of the power of public-private partnerships.

“Fundamentally, the University of Nebraska exists to change lives. The visionary and generous support of our philanthropic partners allows us to accomplish that mission on a greater scale than what would otherwise be possible,” Carter said. “Our donors help make the dream of higher education a reality for thousands of students, they allow us to grow the breadth and stature of our academic programs, and they help us attract the best and brightest talent to our state.

“That they continue to support their university even during challenging times is a remarkable testament to their belief in the value of higher education. I couldn’t be more grateful for each and every gift that has made a difference for our students and communities.”

Carter noted that private support plays an important role in supplementing the state dollars that fund the university’s day-to-day operations. Private gifts often are made in conjunction with an investment from the state. For example, significant private support was received for the College of Engineering, the state’s only engineering program, which will continue to contribute to workforce development efforts. The first phase of an engineering expansion project is being funded largely by a deferred maintenance package approved by the Legislature and governor.

And donors supported partnerships across the university, such as a new program to address some of Nebraska’s most pressing public health issues associated with water and climate which links UNMC, UNL and the universitywide Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute.

The university’s leadership in health care also continued to attract charitable support, including the creation of a presidential chair in cancer. Giving also benefited Nebraska Medicine, the clinical and educational partner to UNMC, including support for its new Adult Psychiatric Emergency Services unit.

Contributors supported COVID-19 relief efforts, including support for the Nebraska Medicine Employee Emergency Assistance Fund, the purchase of additional personal protective equipment for health care workers at Nebraska Medicine, the University of Nebraska Emergency Assistance Fund and a campaign to support the production of hand sanitizer at UNL. The sanitizer was made available to first responders and others across the state.

Several capital projects that are home to academic and research programs and benefit students, faculty and others were also made possible through private donations. These projects include the new Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at UNL; the new Dr. Edwin G. & Dorothy Balbach Davis Global Center at UNMC and a new home for the Munroe–Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation at UNMC; and the new LaVonne Kopecky Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center at UNK. State support was also a vital component of the latter three projects.

The University of Nebraska was named for the second year in a row to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “America’s Favorite Charities” list based on funds received.

The foundation’s last fiscal year ended June 30, 2020. More information is available at

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