UNL College of Business celebrates $6 million in gifts for new endowed chairs

Matching gift donors Jim and Georgia Thompson (fourth and third from left) pose with the other endowed chair donors — Alice Dittman (left), J.E. Van Horne Jr. (second from left), Jennifer and Steve David (fifth and sixth from left) — as well as Dean Kathy Farrell (right) in this 2019 photo. Not pictured is donor and former College of Business Dean Cynthia Hardin Milligan. (This photo was taken prior to the announcement of the coronavirus pandemic.)
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The University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business announces the establishment of six new faculty chairs that are permanently endowed funds of $1 million each.

The endowed funds were made possible with private gifts to the University of Nebraska Foundation in support of the college’s strategic goal to create six new endowed faculty chairs.

“It is exciting to be able to announce these gifts in the midst of the season of giving,” said Kathy Farrell, dean of the College of Business. “In a year when so many have struggled, we are very grateful for the support of generous donors who have enabled the College of Business to continue moving forward, meeting our strategic goals and helping us to give Nebraska students the competitive edge in the workforce.”

The annual income generated from each fund will provide the college with faculty stipends to support competitive salaries and research. It will help the college retain current faculty members and recruit new faculty to the university.

VIDEO: College of Business contributors share why they helped established new endowed chairs

When university benefactors Jim and Georgia Thompson of Minnetonka, Minnesota, learned about the college’s goal to increase endowed support for faculty members, they offered a challenge gift of $2.5 million to help encourage other contributors to participate. Their goal was to help see five new endowed faculty chairs created.

“We knew a matching gift creates more excitement for giving, as people want to meet that match and have an opportunity to give,” said Georgia Thompson, ’72. It moves along at a much faster pace.”

Jim Thompson said: “We knew a gift would be important from us in a direct sense, but building a school is about a community. We’ve created a community of givers who are able to watch this school benefit from the gift and be part of it.”

The gift from the Thompsons provided a $500,000 match to combine with other gifts of $500,000 to create a $1 million endowed fund for each of the five new chairs. The Thompsons also wanted those who stepped up to the challenge to name the endowed chair they helped create.

The donors who provided gifts toward the challenge are Steve and Jennifer David, both ’70, of Denver; Alice Dittman, ’52, of Lincoln; J.E. Van Horne Jr., ’75, of Omaha; and former College of Business Dean Cynthia Hardin Milligan of Omaha.

“We’re extremely grateful for the generosity of Jim and Georgia Thompson and for that of our contributors who established these chairs that will now forever benefit the teaching, research and outreach of our college,” Farrell said. “They’ve helped us take the next important leap in leading the future of business.”

The endowed chairs are now known as the Steve and Jennifer David Family Chair in Business, Alice M. Dittman Chair of Banking and Finance, Cynthia Hardin Milligan Chair of Business, Amy and J.E. Van Horne Jr. Endowed Chair and Van Horne Family Endowed Chair.

The sixth faculty chair announced by the College of Business was established with an estate gift from A. Leicester and Flora Hyde, who lived in Lincoln. Leicester Hyde was a 1925 Nebraska graduate. The $1 million permanently endowed fund is named the N.Z. Snell Life Insurance Chair in memory of Flora Hyde’s father, N.Z. Snell, who graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1882 and served as an insurance executive, attorney and civic leader in Lincoln.

“The college cannot express enough its appreciation for each of these contributors who have made a permanent investment in business education in Nebraska,” Farrell said. “Because of these newly established endowed funds, the college met its strategic goal for six new chairs in less than two years.”

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