UNO students, entrepreneurs, franchising professionals to benefit from $1 million gift

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Omaha, Neb. – Today the University of Nebraska at Omaha announced a $1 million gift from UNO alumnus and Omaha native John Morgan of Minneapolis, Minn., to create one of the campus’ highest ranking endowed faculty positions.

This gift establishes the John Morgan Community Chair in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Franchising in the UNO College of Business Administration (CBA). It is the sixth community chair at UNO funded through the University of Nebraska Foundation’s Campaign for Nebraska and the first endowed chair in CBA.

“John Morgan is an individual who believes deeply in helping others and his latest gift is an extraordinary example of his passion for helping students and UNO excel in the areas of business innovation, entrepreneurship and franchising,” said UNO Chancellor John Christensen. “John is a prominent leader nationally in business and he understands the importance of having the very best faculty continue to lead UNO’s program in these areas. It not only benefits our students but elevates our ability to reach out into the community and help strengthen the opportunities for entrepreneurs, franchise owners and innovators in business. It’s an honor to have John’s name permanently associated with excellence at UNO.”

UNO honored Morgan for his latest philanthropic commitment at an event on campus this morning. The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services also will recognize Morgan, along with several UNO faculty and staff, this afternoon with its Partnership Award. This honor will acknowledge many UNO programs including The Transformation Project which was established in 2009 with a gift from Morgan. UNO developed the program with a goal to help inmates return to the community rather than to prison. It is based on the life experiences of Omaha native Malcolm X.

Morgan, a graduate of North High School in Omaha, said his recent gift as well as his previous support of UNO enable him to give back to the community where he grew up and to the university where he earned his degree in 1969.

“I feel privileged to be part of an effort to reach out to young people and to promote interest in careers that are similar to mine,” said Morgan.

The holder of the John Morgan Community Chair in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Franchising will lead UNO in engaging the community by connecting with school-aged students in local schools and generating interest in these fields.

The chair holder also will oversee the UNO Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Franchising, its academic and research programs and the college’s new summer entrepreneurship camps.

“The community chair that John Morgan has kindly made possible steepens the trajectory of an already successful Center of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Franchising,” said Louis Pol, the John Becker Dean of the UNO College of Business Administration. “Students, local entrepreneurs and our faculty will benefit greatly from the resources generated by this gift.”

Morgan spent his early business career in the computer industry. In 1982, he was one of the founders of Winthrop Resources Corp., a technology leasing company. Morgan took the company public in 1992 and merged it with TCF Financial Corp. in 1997.

In 2000, Morgan became CEO and chairman of Minneapolis-based Grow Biz International Inc., now Winmark Corp. Winmark creates, supports and finances business and has more than 986 stores in North America. Specializing in developing franchises for retail stores that buy, sell and trade new and used merchandise, it is the parent company of Play It Again Sports®, Once Upon a Child®, Plato’s Closet®, Music Go Round®, Wirth Business Credit® and Winmark Capital.

Morgan currently serves on the UNO Campaign Committee for the University of Nebraska Foundation’s Campaign for Nebraska. He also serves on the advisory board of the Page Education Foundation, a mentor and scholarship program in Minnesota. Morgan has served on the board of directors of African-American Family Services and the national board of Girls, Inc.

The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization raising private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for more than 75 years. In 2012 donors, through their gifts to the foundation, provided the university with $165 million for scholarships, medical and other research, academic programs, faculty and buildings. All foundation funds are donor designated. The foundation’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, the Campaign for Nebraska, has raised more than $1. 2 billion for the university, and will end in 2014. For more information, visit

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