UNO alums love giving back to their alma mater

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The couple prefers to target money to where it can help the most.

UNO alums Bob Kreitner and Margaret A. Sova have great memories of their years at college, and the day they met at the Dundee Dell. They return to campus every fall to meet their scholarship recipients.

From a conversation with Bob:

I was a bouncer at an Omaha bar, the Dundee Dell. It was a small, dark place in those days. Marg was sitting by a front window. The sun was shining on her red hair.

She is so beautiful, I thought, so unattainable.

I was a big, rowdy offensive lineman at Omaha University. And I was an older, nontraditional student. I’d started school at 22 after four years with the Coast Guard. What would she see in me? Marg was a student there, too.

The day we met was the highlight of our life together. We’ve been married 37 years now. I like to tell people that I had to earn a Ph.D. before she’d marry me.

Marg is the hero of our philanthropy. Marg is the one with the charitable heart, the one who worked hard for years building the relationships at UNO.

Since we both have business backgrounds, we wanted to target our money to where it can help the most. People waste their money if it’s not targeted, if there’s no strategy. (Are you just running a play? Or are you playing a game?)

When Marg shares with people that we have a scholarship for business students back at our graduate university, sometimes they’re just amazed: How did you do that? Those people think we must be loaded, that we’re Bill and Melinda Gates. But we’re not. We live in an ordinary house in an ordinary suburb.

We feel it’s important for everybody to give back if they can. When people come together and everybody starts throwing in a dollar here and there to the campaign, pretty soon you have enough to make a difference. You have no pockets when you leave this world. You can’t take it with you.

We also set up a book fund at UNO, since I write textbooks. The way that came about was neat: We were brainstorming one day with Lou Pol, the dean of the College of Business. Lou says, “You know something? We really don’t have many scholarships for juniors.” Probably within 10 minutes with the dean we’d crystallized this textbook fund for juniors, to be used their senior year.

Our philanthropy is relationship based. Lou Pol is a cracker jack of a guy. He’s practically a member of the family along with our University of Nebraska Foundation contacts. It’s also just so much fun to be part of what is happening on the UNO campus and what is happening with the University of Nebraska Foundation. When we travel back to Omaha we always take time to visit our university family.

We’re into human capital, not bricks and mortar. We’re into the kids. We like to see not just the names of the recipients, but their faces, too. Now and then we still hear from a Czech student who was a recipient. Marg has her picture in her office.

We live in Phoenix now. Each September, we return to Omaha for a reception at the College of Business with our scholarship recipients. They go around the room and each one tells who they are and what they want to be. It’s so cool.

One time, when I mentioned that I had been a 22-year-old freshman, a woman’s eyes just lit up. She was a little bit older than the other students. Her eyes lit up and you could tell she was thinking, “Yeah, this is going to work.”

The day we meet our students is the pinnacle – one of the highlights of our year.

Student support is one of the top priorities of the Campaign for Nebraska. If you’d also like to help UNO students or the school’s College of Business Administration, please consider giving online or contact the foundation’s Sue Kutschkau at 800-432-3216.

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