University of Nebraska has Record Year in Philanthropic Support with $343 Million in New Funds Committed

Dorothy Thai of Lincoln is a current recipient of the oldest endowed scholarship managed by the University of Nebraska Foundation. The scholarship was established by university alumnus Edward Cornish in 1937 and continues to help students every year. The foundation was founded a year earlier in 1936.

The University of Nebraska Foundation announced a record $343 million in philanthropic gifts and commitments in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021, marking the second consecutive year of more than $300 million in new funds committed to benefit the University of Nebraska.

Gifts were directed to the University of Nebraska according to donors’ designations. Alumni, friends of the university, foundations and corporations make up the 46,639 donors who gave during the year.

“The University of Nebraska is in a remarkable position of strength as we look to the future, thanks to private and public partners whose investment in their university truly makes all things possible,” said University of Nebraska System President Ted Carter. “Our generous and visionary donors extend the university’s reach even further, helping to make higher education a reality for thousands of students and growing the impact of our research and service. The entire university family is grateful to our philanthropic partners for all they do for our 52,000 students.”

Private support given created new scholarships, created faculty chairs and professorships for the recruitment and retention of top faculty, provided support for academic and athletic programs, furthered research, helped care for patients, and constructed facilities for teaching, research and service. Among the areas that benefited from private support this year were:

Engineering – Gifts were received to create scholarships and expand facilities for the next generation of engineers. College of Engineering Dean Lance Pérez said the investment being made to construct Kiewit Hall represents the first time in a generation that the university will have a dedicated facility for teaching engineering. The university offers the state’s only nationally accredited engineering degree program. A new chair in biological systems engineering was created to recognize and support the work of IANR Professor Angie Pannier, who researches DNA vaccines, tissue engineering and gene delivery systems. The chair provides an annual stipend to be used by Pannier and the students in her lab exploring new research.

Agriculture – The donation of 2,147 acres of ranchland in Hayes County will be used for outdoor learning, emphasizing range management and beef cattle production. Dean of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture Larry Gossen said the gift will help students learn the care of cattle and how to manage healthy and productive pastureland. On the University of Nebraska–Lincoln East Campus, the landmark CY Thompson Library was transformed into the technology-rich Dinsdale Family Learning Commons. The building offers active and quiet places for students to study, and the second floor houses the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program. Michael Boehm, vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said the Dinsdale Commons is a cornerstone of East Campus and a powerful reminder of the university’s commitment to IANR and Nebraska agriculture.

Science, Health and Medicine – Several faculty support chairs were created to recruit and retain top faculty, among them the first chair ever in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology, a chair in global health security, a chair in health care analytics, a chair in physics, and additional support for existing chairs in cardiology and pediatrics. Scholarships were created for students enrolled in the accelerated nursing degree program, and research gifts were received to support pediatric cancer. Gifts were received to support the construction of facilities such as the Davis Global Center, the Munroe-Meyer Institute and to redevelop Durham Science Center. Donors supported the NExT project, a public-private partnership to create a federal, all-hazard health security disaster response space that leverages the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s and Nebraska Medicine’s experience and leadership in infectious diseases.

Business and Law – Mammel Hall at the University of Nebraska at Omaha was expanded with the addition of the Rod Rhoden Innovation Center; at UNL, six faculty chairs were created in the College of Business and renovations began on the College of Law Library.

Arts and Humanities – Gifts were received to support Sheldon Museum of Art, the Great Plains Art Museum, the International Quilt Museum and photojournalism at UNL, and the Samuel Bak Academic Learning Center at UNO.

Athletics – Gifts were received to support UNL’s GoB1G and Campus Recreation’s Outdoor Adventures program and to support the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s football and soccer team facilities at Cope Stadium.

Student support was a priority for many donors, and more than 10,000 students across the university system received privately funded scholarship awards in the past year. Gifts were given to support students in nearly every major and college. Among them were the “Access to Exceptional” fund created to benefit students at UNO; a scholarship fund for students from Creighton, Nebraska, enrolled at UNK; a scholarship fund for students majoring in English who attend UNK; and funds to support those enrolled in the Teacher Scholars Academy at UNL, UNO and UNK; as well as many others.

“Many of our donors understand that a University of Nebraska degree can literally change the trajectory of someone’s life, and they have a strong desire to make those degrees accessible and affordable to more people,” said University of Nebraska Foundation President and CEO Brian Hastings. “Others want to support the life-saving work that our academic medical center does every day, but also recognize their global leadership through the COVID-19 global pandemic. This is the 85th anniversary of the foundation’s partnership with the University of Nebraska, and we could not be prouder to have this anniversary marked by a record-breaking year.”

The University of Nebraska Foundation grows relationships and resources that enable the University of Nebraska to change lives and save lives. It is ranked among the top 20 public universities for fundraising and in the top 25 for endowed assets. During the foundation’s last fiscal year, 46,639 donors gave $343 million to aid UNK, UNO, UNL and NCTA, UNMC and its clinical partner Nebraska Medicine, as well as university wide institutes and affiliates. More than 99% of all foundation assets are restricted to a specific use. More information is available at

Contact: Robb Crouch, senior director of public relations, 402-458-1142,

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