The novel, “One of Ours,” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923.

Willa Cather: A Pandemic, a Novel and a Pulitzer Prize

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Jennifer Overkamp

Assistant Director of Development Communications
Contact: jennifer.overkamp@nufoundation.org

UNL alumna Willa Cather survived a pandemic from 1918-1920

University of Nebraska–Lincoln alumna Willa Cather was not only a famous writer, she also survived a pandemic. The so-called Spanish flu ripped across the globe from 1918 to 1920, its spread accelerated by the troop movements and combat conditions of World War I. At that time, Cather was in her 40s and living in New York City, having left teaching and magazine editing behind to be a full-time writer.

Cather’s letters describe some things that sound familiar today. She wrote to her mother that she needed to spend some time in the hospital, but her doctors suggested waiting until the flu had died down (Letter No. 2414). In the same letter, she added that her friend Ethel Litchfield was exhausted from caring for her sick children, so Cather had her over for a respite, complete with a good meal and a little time to rest by the fire. In a note to her Aunt Frances Smith Cather in November 1919, Cather said that she couldn’t write too much, as she had so many letters of condolence to write “to friends who have been bereaved by this terrible scourge of Influenza” (Letter No. 440).

Cather knew how brutal the flu could be — she caught it herself in September 1919 and had a bad time of it. She wrote to a friend, “I have been in bed with Influenza for two weeks, and it has ended in a stubborn bronchitis which refuses to quit me and keeps hovering on the edge of pneumonia. … I am simply unable to make any plans at present — I’ve had to call off ever so many engagements on account of this stupid illness” (Letter No. 474).

In an odd twist of literary fate, Cather’s bout with the flu ended up strongly influencing the novel she was writing at the time, the story of a Nebraska farm boy serving in what was then called the Great War. The doctor who treated her during her illness had previously been a physician on a troop transport ship that was struck with influenza. Cather borrowed the doctor’s journal and used it extensively when writing her novel.

That novel, “One of Ours,” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923.

Please visit the Willa Cather Archive at cather.unl.edu to explore more of Cather’s life and letters.  Thanks to the support of donors and UNL’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities and University Libraries, this free online archive shares a vast collection of Cather material with the world. The collection includes not only Cather’s writing but also photos, letters, interviews and biographies.

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A UNL business professor studies pandemics, applying the science of data and supply chain management to difficult questions like school closings and the availability of ventilators. 

When Theory Becomes Reality

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Jennifer Overkamp

Assistant Director of Development Communications
Contact: jennifer.overkamp@nufoundation.org

UNL Professor At the Center Of COVID-19 And Supply Chain Management

Most researchers love to see their work impact the real world. They are thrilled when their theories are tested or their papers widely read.

Özgür Araz, Ph.D., is not so thrilled. He is a business professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and he studies pandemics, applying the science of data and supply chain management to difficult questions like school closings and the availability of ventilators. While he is glad his research is useful, he never wanted to see it in action.

Araz’s background is in industrial engineering. However, he said he “finds the social side of technical problems very interesting,” an interest which led him to supply chain management. He first studied pandemics as a dissertation topic for his Ph.D. and taught complex systems thinking at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health before being recruited to UNL’s College of Business to teach supply chain management and analytics.

Supply chain management education is a strength at the university, with programs at UNL, UNK and UNO. Supply Chain Management and Analytics is the newest department in the UNL College of Business. Araz describes the ultimate goal of SCM as creating systems which produce “the right quantity of items, in the right place, at the right time.” Students study logistics, production, procurement and distribution, leading to jobs in fields as diverse as manufacturing, health care, global sourcing and inventory control. Currently, around 140 students major or minor in SCM at UNL, in addition to about 45 graduate students in the department’s online master’s degree in business analytics.

The battle against COVID-19 rages on many fronts: hospitals, labs and even private homes as people carefully wash their hands and practice social distancing. But Araz argues that, in many ways, fighting the virus is fundamentally a supply chain and capacity management problem. Are there enough masks, ventilators, test kits, hospital beds and other supplies? Are there sufficient health care personnel? SCM is also about timing. It’s not only a question of whether the needed ventilators are available; they are needed at a certain time and in a certain place. Next week may mean they are too late to save lives. If they are in a warehouse three states away, that’s not much good either.

Araz’s most recent article, published in Decision Sciences in November, studies capacity optimization under resource shortages. Previously, he looked at the challenges of stockpiling ventilators for influenza pandemics and school closure policies for cost-effective pandemic decision-making.

A pandemic is also a living math problem, and Araz is a numbers guy. How many people does one infected person generally infect? How quickly does the disease spread? What are the fatality rates? Araz explained that economic impacts are taken into consideration when modeling effective decision-making.

“We want to answer whether school closings and social distancing policies are cost-effective,” Araz said. “Both questions, of when to close schools and when to reopen, are equally important. We take information about how fast the virus is spreading, using a basic reproductive number, and estimate the number of secondary cases generated in a completely susceptible population. In the case of the coronavirus, it’s spreading fast.”

 

We can solve complex systems problems using complex models, but it doesn't have to always be profit maximization. We also solve problems and design systems to improve the quality of life for everyone.

- Özgür Araz, Ph.D., UNL business professor

The data also shows a high fatality rate among older population groups, according to Araz. He sees health officials using predictive analytics to ensure that public safety is optimized through modeling tools developed through research like his own.

“People say closing schools costs a lot, but if we save more lives, it makes it cost-effective,” Araz said. “Optimizing social distancing intervention depends on this research modeling. We take a societal perspective regarding life lost, parents staying home with children impacting the workforce and all the other factors we are dealing with today. In severe cases, we might need prolonged closures, and even 24 weeks of closings can be still a cost-effective result.” 

Jennifer Ryan, Ph.D., chair and Ron and Carol Cope Professor of Supply Chain Management and Analytics at UNL, explained that in addition to informing the social distancing response, Araz’s research helps Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials prepare for situations in which hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed.

“We’ve all heard the discussions of ‘flattening the curve,’” Ryan said. “The modeling tools Özgür developed can provide critical insights into how we best allocate scarce resources during a pandemic. If we don’t control the rate of infection, experts expect our hospitals and clinics to be overwhelmed and to lack the necessary beds and equipment to treat the influx of patients.”

This aspect of benefiting society is a key part of why Araz continues his research at the intersection of SCM and pandemics.

“We can solve complex systems problems using complex models, but it doesn’t have to always be profit maximization,” Araz said. “We also solve problems and design systems to improve the quality of life for everyone.”

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Husker fans and supporters from across the United States and three continents demonstrated their pride for the University of Nebraska‒Lincoln during the second annual Glow Big Red – 24 Hours of Husker Giving on Feb.13-14.

The event concluded at noon on Feb. 14 with more than 2,300 gifts made and more than $175,000 in charitable support for all areas of the university.

With its theme Light It, Fly It, Wear It, Give It, Glow Big Red – 24 Hours of Husker Giving enables alumni, friends and fans to show their university pride however they choose. It was launched last year in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the university’s founding.

Huskers helped blow past the original goal to receive 1,869 gifts in recognition of the year the university was chartered in 1869. Last year, more than 1,500 contributions were made during the event.

The event focused on a wide range of opportunities to support students. More than 70 campus-based student organizations and groups participated. There were also opportunities to support students in each of the college’s as well as to support the museums, arts organizations and many other university organizations and affiliates.

Murtaza Nalwala, president of the UNL Indian Students Association, which helps provide a home away from home for students from India, said Glow Big Red was a great event and that his organization enjoyed participating.

“You have no idea how much happiness you all have spread across the world,” said Nalwala, about the more than 100 people who gave to the association during the event. “My office is celebrating!”

Largely driven by social media engagement around the world, Glow Big Red experienced more than 100,000 mentions and posts. Using the hashtag #GlowBigRed, people and organizations painted the social media landscape in Husker red, with posts that included campus buildings glowing in red, people wearing Husker apparel on top of snowy mountains, pets sporting Husker gear and much more.

For more information about results, including a leaderboard of information about the support provided to various areas of the university, go to glowbigred.unl.edu.

Cynthia Highland, co-founder and past president of the UNL Disability Club, said they were happy with the support their campus organization received during Glow Big Red to support students with disabilities.

“Our little club is so happy,” Highland said. “Thank you so much.”

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s longstanding tradition of supporting veterans and military service members is expanding.

University leaders are moving forward with a Veterans’ Tribute project that will create a reflection area from the steps of the Military and Naval Science Building to the Coliseum along Vine Street. The $3.75 million project is part of an ongoing, multi-phase upgrade of the mall immediately east of Memorial Stadium.

The university has launched fundraising for the project through the University of Nebraska Foundation. The project goal is $4.5 million, which will cover construction costs and create an endowment for ongoing maintenance of the space.

“The project design will be military neutral without specific names of service branches or individuals who have served,” said Michelle Waite, assistant to the chancellor for government and military relations. “It will treat the military branches as one family and illustrate multiple positive attributes of serving in the military.”

The tentative design will embody the concept of glass panels featured in the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, D.C. The campus panels will illustrate the multiple facets of a service member’s life, including the importance of family, faith and camaraderie, while also depicting the personal sacrifice that military service entails.

The entrance to the Military and Naval Science Building will be upgraded, reconfiguring steps and concrete to create a chevron-like design (when viewed from above) in a space that will allow for ROTC and other campus ceremonies. The steps will highlight engraved words that reflect what it means to serve in the military.

“There will also be trees, seating and landscaping that will create a serene place on campus for reflecting and remembering,” Waite said.

The tribute space will be used for education, reflection, rest and study. It will also be a highly-trafficked space as fans approach Memorial Stadium — which itself was built to honor veterans — on Husker football games.

“This is going to be a critical space in the heart of campus, showing the university’s values and its commitment to telling the story of our military-connected students, faculty, staff, alumni and public,” said Joe Brownell, director of the university’s Military and Veteran Success Center.

The project was developed to complement the addition of plaques honoring students of the university who served in World War I. The plaques were added to the interior of Memorial Stadium, at Gate 20, and unveiled during a 2019 celebration of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

A committee that featured more than 20 stakeholders representing university students, campus ROTC programs, military organizations and veterans developed the plans for the veterans’ tribute on the Memorial Stadium mall.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in spring 2020.

Donations for the Veterans’ Tribute project can be made through the University of Nebraska Foundation.

Story courtesy of UNL.edu.

The chairman and chief executive officer of Peter Kiewit Sons’, Inc., joined with the chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Sept. 16 to announce the Omaha corporation’s support of a significant expansion of Nebraska engineering.

The company’s $20 million commitment is a substantial contribution to an estimated $85 million engineering facility planned for Lincoln. To be named Kiewit Hall, the building will serve as engineering’s academic hub and will house Lincoln-based construction management programs.

“As stewards of our community and the construction and engineering industry, Kiewit is happy to not only support the College of Engineering’s physical expansion, but also the strategic efforts to grow UNL’s engineering program into one of the best in the country,” said Bruce Grewcock, Kiewit’s chairman and chief executive officer.

Chancellor Ronnie Green said Kiewit’s support is emblematic of the partnership between Nebraska’s Big Ten College of Engineering and one of North America’s largest and most respected construction and engineering companies. Kiewit and its executives have had a long history of support for Nebraska engineering, which offers programs in both Omaha and Lincoln.

“The powerful combination of Kiewit and UNL will significantly grow the impact of Nebraska Engineering,” Green said. “That is a top priority for the University of Nebraska. We are making great strides under the strong leadership of Dean Pérez, and I am so excited about the trajectory of this program.”

The Big Ten has many of the best engineering programs in the country. Nebraska’s partnership with Kiewit will boost its presence in that highly competitive field.

By 2026, Nebraska will need nearly 15,000 new workers in the engineering and computer science fields.

College of Engineering Dean Lance C. Pérez expects engineering enrollment at Nebraska to reach about 5,000 students within the decade, a 50 percent increase that would make it UNL’s second-largest college in terms of enrollment.

“The college is extremely grateful to Kiewit for this generous gift and continued partnership as we make critical investments to provide Nebraskans with world-class construction, computing and engineering education and research,” Pérez said. “We are truly gratified for the support from the state of Nebraska, the business community, and others.”

The Abel family of Lincoln is a second major contributor to the project. Jim Abel, chairman and CEO of NEBCO, and his wife, Mary, are longtime civic leaders and their family’s support for the university goes back three generations. Abel Residence Hall, located adjacent to the site, is named in honor of Abel’s grandfather, George P. Abel Sr. Jim Abel also spearheaded the development of Haymarket Park, where Husker softball and baseball teams play. Most recently, Abel was a lead donor for Hawks Hall, the College of Business building that opened in 2017.

Construction starts in October on the first phase of the expansion project, which was approved by the Nebraska Board of Regents in August 2018. Funded largely by a deferred maintenance package passed by the Legislature in 2016, the $75 million renovation of the Walter Scott Engineering Center and Nebraska Hall, plus a 91,000-square-foot addition replacing a 1984 facility known as the Link, is to be completed in 2022.

If approved by the Board of Regents in October, Kiewit Hall will be built on the east side of the university’s existing engineering complex, east of Othmer Hall and across 17th Street, which would be closed. The building site includes the 17th and Vine streets parcel, currently a parking lot.

Other major donors have also responded to the university’s plans for a major investment in the engineering complex, including Robert and Joell Brightfelt; Hausmann Construction; Rick and Carol McNeel; Dan and Angie Muhleisen; Olsson; Union Pacific Foundation; and Don Voelte and Nancy Keegan.

Fundraising is actively continuing with engineering alumni and other donors so that all funds can be raised and this new building can meet its tentative completion date of 2023.

“We are grateful to Kiewit, Jim and Mary Abel and all the donors who are making this philanthropic investment in engineering,” said Brian Hastings, CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation. “The university’s plans and commitment to engineering will help Nebraska address a critical workforce issue and we are grateful to the donor community for their partnership in making this investment in engineering possible.”

The partnership between Kiewit and the university represents a 285-year combined commitment to the state of Nebraska, building the infrastructure, growing the economy and educating the people of this great state.

Kiewit’s roots trace back to 1884, when brothers Peter and Andrew Kiewit started a small masonry contracting business in Omaha. It rose to national prominence under the leadership of one of Peter Kiewit’s sons, also named Peter, and has since grown to one of the largest construction and design engineering firms in North America. Kiewit delivers some of the industry’s most complex and challenging projects across seven different markets including transportation, oil, gas and chemical, power, building, industrial, mining and water/wastewater. The employee-owned company is home to over 11,000 staff, of which about 45% are degreed engineers.

Celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2019, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is home to the sole College of Engineering in the state of Nebraska, supplying engineering education and leadership in technology-based economic development for the state, the nation and the world.

Nebraska’s first civil engineering classes were taught in 1877, with its first engineering student graduating in 1882. The Legislature approved a bill creating the College of Engineering in 1909. Now 110 years old, the Nebraska College of Engineering offers 12 nationally accredited undergraduate degree programs, 13 master’s programs and 11 doctoral programs. Nebraska Engineering programs are offered on City Campus and East Campus in Lincoln and Scott Campus in Omaha.

Information courtesy of: https://news.unl.edu/newsrooms/today/article/kiewit-partnership-powers-nebraska-engineering-forward/.

Thank you for making this year great! You helped reward more than 6,500 University of Nebraska–Lincoln students with life-changing scholarships.

From July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, more than 13,500 of you contributed to make an impact on the lives of University of Nebraska–Lincoln students. But the impact doesn’t stop there. Once our students graduate, they go on to lead in their communities, states and countries. They go on to change the world.

Without donors like you, maybe that student doesn’t walk into that classroom. Maybe that research isn’t conducted or that sonnet isn’t written. Maybe that education goes unobtained.

We cannot thank you enough for helping make a difference on the lives of so many.

Contributions poured in from every state in the U.S. and 11 countries across the globe. From first-time donors to those who have contributed consistently for a quarter-century, it all starts with you.

Making a difference in the lives of UNL students impacts the success of our state and the future of our planet.

Thank you for making that future better.

But don’t take it from us. Hear from students whose lives were elevated by you and your fellow contributors:

“Thank you so much to all the donors who have given back to the university. I am a scholarship recipient, and I know the impact that scholarships have. Your generous support has allowed me the ability to continue my education and further my passion for communication and advertising.”

“There are so many students here at UNL that are pursuing their passion. Donors create opportunities and really make college a more affordable option for people who want to make their dreams come true. If it wasn’t for UNL and the donors that support UNL, I wouldn’t be where I am at today, and I am truly grateful.”

Through the N Fund you may choose to support whatever area you think is most important:

Please visit nufoundation.org/NFund for more information.

Private donors with a desire to invest in the student learning experience have made it possible for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to move forward with a $22.5 million renovation and redevelopment of the C.Y. Thompson Library on East Campus.

Gifts to the University of Nebraska Foundation for this privately funded project include a leadership contribution from UNL alumni and philanthropists Ruth and Bill Scott of Omaha. Their gift was provided as a challenge to encourage others to contribute and to offer the option for someone to name the new student learning commons.

The Dinsdale family of Nebraska, in response to the Scotts’ lead challenge gift, made a major gift commitment to the project. The gift was made by Sid Dinsdale, Chris Dinsdale and Jane Dinsdale Rogers in honor of their father, Roy G. Dinsdale; and by Lynn Dinsdale Marchese and Tom Dinsdale in honor of their father, the late John “Jack” A. Dinsdale.

The new learning space will be named the Dinsdale Family Learning Commons in honor of the Dinsdale brothers, pending approval by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

Roy Dinsdale graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1948. Jack Dinsdale, who died in 2010, also attended the university, but his studies were interrupted by World War II and U.S. Army service from 1942 to 1946. As brothers and business partners, Roy and Jack Dinsdale grew the family agriculture and banking businesses into what is today Pinnacle Bancorp Inc., the holding company which includes Pinnacle Bank.

“Students are at the core of what we do, so we are especially grateful for the generosity of Ruth and Bill Scott and the Dinsdale family for recognizing and embracing the vision of a new student learning commons on our East Campus,” said UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green. “This reimagined space designed for 21st-century studying and learning will benefit thousands of students, and we foresee a busy and active area full of engaged students.”

Ruth and Bill Scott said they are pleased to help make attending UNL an even richer experience for students.

“We hope that this will be a place where students want to congregate to spend time together and that it will be a hub that encourages students, teachers and the broader community to explore, create, collaborate and have some fun,” Ruth Scott said. “We are delighted the Dinsdale family also understands the importance of this student initiative, and we certainly hope others choose to help now as well.”

About the Dinsdale family’s support for the project, Sid Dinsdale said, “With our family roots in agriculture, we think providing resources to upgrade the East Campus makes sense. We consider this a gift that will benefit our entire state, and it is a privilege to partner with the Scott family on this project.”

Few updates have been made to the C.Y. Thompson Library since it opened in 1966, but the way students study and learn has changed significantly. Increasingly, students are interactive learners who depend on having technology available at all times, communicate via social media and study collaboratively.

Construction will launch in August with completion in time for the 2021 spring semester. Renovation and redevelopment of the library will include the new student learning commons to incorporate academics, research and community into one central hub of resources there. Many fundamental concepts of the learning commons will be borrowed from the privately funded Adele Coryell Hall Learning Commons located on UNL’s City Campus at Love Library which opened in 2016 and is used by thousands of students each week for studying, peer collaboration and access to learning resources.

The Dinsdale Family Learning Commons will reflect students’ increasing use of online and digital information and research and will enhance interdisciplinary connections through spaces where students can gather to study and collaborate. Plans call for a technologically rich space that will facilitate both individual and group study with virtual access to thousands of e-books, e-journals and academic articles.

The printed word, however, will not go away. A power library will house a 25,000-volume collection of the most recent, unique and active parts of the print collection. Faculty and staff also will benefit from cutting-edge technologies and instruction resources.

The library division within the facility will continue to be named the C.Y. Thompson Library.

Additionally, the redeveloped space will provide a central location for the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, the East Campus Visitors Center and the Student Testing Center.

The University of Nebraska Foundation is seeking additional contributions for the project.

About the lead donors

Ruth and Bill Scott

Bill and Ruth Scott

Ruth and Bill Scott are deeply rooted and invested in the community where they have lived most of their lives and the state they call home.

Over the years, the Scott family has made extraordinary and transformational private investments in the University of Nebraska. Examples of their philanthropy are found on each of the four main campuses of the University of Nebraska statewide system, and they have been instrumental leaders in making the University of Nebraska Medical Center a world-class academic health science center.

In 2009 the University of Nebraska Board of Regents presented Ruth and Bill Scott with its most prestigious award, the Regents Medal, for their extraordinary contributions to the university’s academic programs, scholarships and facilities.

Bill Scott is a 1953 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business. The Ashland, Nebraska, native joined Buffett Partnership in 1959 and Berkshire Hathaway in 1970 where he remained until the early 1990s.

Ruth Scott, also a native of Ashland, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1951. She went on to teach school and later founded the Omaha Bridge Studio where she teaches “the game everyone should play.”

Jack and Roy Dinsdale

Roy Dinsdale (left) and Jack Dinsdale

Brothers John A. “Jack” and Roy G. Dinsdale were business partners for 63 years with primary interests in banking and agriculture. They were born in Palmer, Nebraska, to George and Rena Dinsdale and graduated from Palmer High School.

Jack Dinsdale attended the University of Nebraska for business administration when his college career was interrupted by World War II. He entered the U.S. Army in 1942 and was discharged in 1946. While in the Army, he met Gretchen Poggemeyer in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and they married and raised two children in Nebraska: Tom and Lynn. Jack Dinsdale died in 2010 at age 92.

Roy Dinsdale met Gloria Stephens, who grew up in McCook and Grand Island, while they were studying at the University of Nebraska, where Roy studied business administration, graduating in 1948, and Gloria studied education, graduating in 1949. They married after graduating and raised three children: Sid, Chris and Jane.

In 1948, Roy and Jack Dinsdale joined their father, George Dinsdale, and their uncle, Tom Dinsdale, in helping lead the family’s businesses, which were founded in the late 1800s. Roy and Jack started expanding their banking business from State Bank in Palmer by purchasing the National Bank of Neligh in 1958. This was the forerunner of Pinnacle Bancorp, Inc., the holding company which includes Pinnacle Bank in Nebraska. Using a community bank model still in use today, Pinnacle Bank has 67 locations across the state.

The entire Dinsdale family and their primary business, Pinnacle Bank, are known for their generous contributions of time and philanthropic support to the University of Nebraska and various other organizations and community endeavors.

About the University of Nebraska Foundation

The University of Nebraska Foundation grows relationships and resources that enable the University of Nebraska to change lives and save lives. Among U.S. public universities, total annual gifts in support of the University of Nebraska and its affiliates rank in the top 15, and its $1.7 billion total endowment is in the top 25. Donors restrict 99 percent of all gifts and assets to a specific use by the university. The foundation was named to America’s Favorite Charities in 2018 by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. More information is at nufoundation.org.

Private gifts establish learning commons at UNL’s East Campus library

Private donors with a desire to invest in the student learning experience have made it possible for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to move forward with a $22.5 million renovation and redevelopment of the C.Y. Thompson Library on East Campus.

Gifts to the University of Nebraska Foundation for this privately funded project include a leadership contribution from UNL alumni and philanthropists Ruth and Bill Scott of Omaha. Their gift was provided as a challenge to encourage others to contribute and to offer the option for someone to name the new student learning commons.

The Dinsdale family of Nebraska, in response to the Scotts’ lead challenge gift, made a major gift commitment to the project. The gift was made by Sid Dinsdale, Chris Dinsdale and Jane Dinsdale Rogers in honor of their father, Roy G. Dinsdale; and by Lynn Dinsdale Marchese and Tom Dinsdale in honor of their father, the late John “Jack” A. Dinsdale.

The new learning space will be named the Dinsdale Family Learning Commons in honor of the Dinsdale brothers, pending approval by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

Roy Dinsdale graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1948. Jack Dinsdale, who died in 2010, also attended the university, but his studies were interrupted by World War II and U.S. Army service from 1942 to 1946. As brothers and business partners, Roy and Jack Dinsdale grew the family agriculture and banking businesses into what is today Pinnacle Bancorp Inc., the holding company which includes Pinnacle Bank.

“Students are at the core of what we do, so we are especially grateful for the generosity of Ruth and Bill Scott and the Dinsdale family for recognizing and embracing the vision of a new student learning commons on our East Campus,” said UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green. “This reimagined space designed for 20th-century studying and learning will benefit thousands of students, and we foresee a busy and active area full of engaged students.”

Ruth and Bill Scott said they are pleased to help make attending UNL an even richer experience for students.

“We hope that this will be a place where students want to congregate to spend time together and that it will be a hub that encourages students, teachers and the broader community to explore, create, collaborate and have some fun,” Ruth Scott said. “We are delighted the Dinsdale family also understands the importance of this student initiative, and we certainly hope others choose to help now as well.”

About the Dinsdale family’s support for the project, Sid Dinsdale said, “With our family roots in agriculture, we think providing resources to upgrade the East Campus makes sense. We consider this a gift that will benefit our entire state, and it is a privilege to partner with the Scott family on this project.”

Few updates have been made to the C.Y. Thompson Library since it opened in 1966, but the way students study and learn has changed significantly. Increasingly, students are interactive learners who depend on having technology available at all times, communicate via social media and study collaboratively.

Construction will launch in August with completion in time for the 2021 spring semester. Renovation and redevelopment of the library will include the new student learning commons to incorporate academics, research and community into one central hub of resources there. Many fundamental concepts of the learning commons will be borrowed from the privately funded Adele Coryell Hall Learning Commons located on UNL’s City Campus at Love Library which opened in 2016 and is used by thousands of students each week for studying, peer collaboration and access to learning resources.

The Dinsdale Family Learning Commons will reflect students’ increasing use of online and digital information and research and will enhance interdisciplinary connections through spaces where students can gather to study and collaborate. Plans call for a technologically rich space that will facilitate both individual and group study with virtual access to thousands of e-books, e-journals and academic articles.

The printed word, however, will not go away. A power library will house a 25,000-volume collection of the most recent, unique and active parts of the print collection. Faculty and staff also will benefit from cutting-edge technologies and instruction resources.

The library division within the facility will continue to be named the C.Y. Thompson Library.

Additionally, the redeveloped space will provide a central location for the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, the East Campus Visitors Center and the Student Testing Center.

The University of Nebraska Foundation is seeking additional contributions for the project.

About the lead donors

Ruth and Bill Scott

Bill and Ruth Scott

Ruth and Bill Scott are deeply rooted and invested in the community where they have lived most of their lives and the state they call home.

Over the years, the Scott family has made extraordinary and transformational private investments in the University of Nebraska. Examples of their philanthropy are found on each of the four main campuses of the University of Nebraska statewide system, and they have been instrumental leaders in making the University of Nebraska Medical Center a world-class academic health science center.

In 2009 the University of Nebraska Board of Regents presented Ruth and Bill Scott with its most prestigious award, the Regents Medal, for their extraordinary contributions to the university’s academic programs, scholarships and facilities.

Bill Scott is a 1953 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business. The Ashland, Nebraska, native joined Buffett Partnership in 1959 and Berkshire Hathaway in 1970 where he remained until the early 1990s.

Ruth Scott, also a native of Ashland, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1951. She went on to teach school and later founded the Omaha Bridge Studio where she teaches “the game everyone should play.”

Jack and Roy Dinsdale

Roy Dinsdale (left) and Jack Dinsdale

Brothers John A. “Jack” and Roy G. Dinsdale were business partners for 63 years with primary interests in banking and agriculture. They were born in Palmer, Nebraska, to George and Rena Dinsdale and graduated from Palmer High School.

Jack Dinsdale attended the University of Nebraska for business administration when his college career was interrupted by World War II. He entered the U.S. Army in 1942 and was discharged in 1946. While in the Army, he met Gretchen Poggemeyer in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and they married and raised two children in Nebraska: Tom and Lynn. Jack Dinsdale died in 2010 at age 92.

Roy Dinsdale met Gloria Stephens, who grew up in McCook and Grand Island, while they were studying at the University of Nebraska, where Roy studied business administration, graduating in 1948, and Gloria studied education, graduating in 1949. They married after graduating and raised three children: Sid, Chris and Jane.

In 1948, Roy and Jack Dinsdale joined their father, George Dinsdale, and their uncle, Tom Dinsdale, in helping lead the family’s businesses, which were founded in the late 1800s. Roy and Jack started expanding their banking business from State Bank in Palmer by purchasing the National Bank of Neligh in 1958. This was the forerunner of Pinnacle Bancorp, Inc., the holding company which includes Pinnacle Bank in Nebraska. Using a community bank model still in use today, Pinnacle Bank has 67 locations across the state.

The entire Dinsdale family and their primary business, Pinnacle Bank, are known for their generous contributions of time and philanthropic support to the University of Nebraska and various other organizations and community endeavors.

About the University of Nebraska Foundation

The University of Nebraska Foundation grows relationships and resources that enable the University of Nebraska to change lives and save lives. Among U.S. public universities, total annual gifts in support of the University of Nebraska and its affiliates rank in the top 15, and its $1.7 billion total endowment is in the top 25. Donors restrict 99 percent of all gifts and assets to a specific use by the university. The foundation was named to America’s Favorite Charities in 2018 by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. More information is at nufoundation.org.

A replica of Barbourofelis fricki, an ambush predator that stalked camels, horses and other prey across Nebraska roughly 7 million years ago, is a centerpiece of Cherish Nebraska. The privately funded exhibition is located on the fourth floor of the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall on UNL’s campus.

Get your hands on Nebraska’s history

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Cherish Nebraska explores the future of science by interacting with its past.

Michela Wipf will always cherish the day this past March when she chaperoned her fourth-grade daughter’s class field trip to Lincoln.

The highlight, Wipf said, was touring the newly renovated fourth-floor exhibit space at the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall – a state-of-the-art space called Cherish Nebraska – and watching her daughter Lilli, in her pink pants and pixie haircut, explore all the galleries with her young hands and brain. …

Lilli studied rocks and fossils and feathers under magnifying machines. … She learned about climate change from a story being told on a huge digital globe … she learned about little parasites that live inside the guts of fish and about animals of all kinds, from all eras of Nebraska’s fascinating natural history. … She even got to observe a real scientist in action in a real lab behind glass walls.

Lilli wants to be a scientist herself when she grows up. So it was a day, Wipf said, that her daughter will probably always cherish, too.

 “I think I took about 100 photos,” said Wipf, who runs a photography studio in Weeping Water, Nebraska. “I loved seeing Lilli and her best friend in that tunnel where they could pop their heads out. Then I loved watching all the kids sticking their hands in the mouth of that – I think it was a mountain lion – and pretend to get eaten. That was cool. Their expressions were priceless. I just loved watching Lilli interact with all the computers that where everywhere. 

“I just loved the entire thing. I had no idea what to expect. I had never been to Morrill Hall before. And then walking into the fourth floor, I just could not believe how many interactive projects there were. There was something for everybody.” 

The privately funded Cherish Nebraska, which opened this past February, celebrates the state’s natural heritage as it has been shaped over the millennia. Visitors of all ages can immerse themselves in the exciting world of scientific discovery while learning about the university’s research on all of its campuses.

Susan Weller, the museum’s director, says a goal of Cherish Nebraska is to inspire kids like Lilli and her young classmates from Weeping Water Elementary to consider careers someday in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

“Honestly, I think a lot of kids who go there will now consider more science careers because of how interactive it is — we probably could have spent three or four hours just on the fourth floor. We can't wait to go back.

- Michela Wipf
After being closed to the public for more than 50 years, the fourth level of the historic 1920s-era Morrill Hall has been transformed into state-of-the-art exhibits using modern technology. Cherish Nebraska celebrates the state’s natural and cultural history.

“You can’t aspire to have a career you don’t know about or haven’t tried out,” Weller said. “Cherish Nebraska opens visitors’ eyes to the diverse kinds of STEM careers already out there – typically in a fun, engaging way. Who knew there’s a career studying fish guts to discover parasites? Or that you could be paid to collect snow to predict spring melt run-off?

 “We’ve heard many stories of how visits to the museum inspired careers in a variety of science professions. For those who didn’t become scientists, the museum still has been central to their appreciation of fossils and other wonders of the natural world. Our hands-on science exploration zone encourages children to be scientists themselves, ask questions, and search for answers. Our visitors are encouraged to ‘do’ science – that’s the most fun part.” 

Morrill Hall served over 94,700 visitors in fiscal year 2018, Weller said, and about 22,000 of those were Nebraska students. Morrill Hall also served an additional 1,800 students with its virtual field trip science programs. 

Lead donors for Cherish Nebraska are the Hubbard Family Foundation, the Claire M. Hubbard Foundation and Ruth and Bill Scott. Others supporting it include the Don Dillon Family Foundation, the Sunderland Foundation, Mark and Diann Sorensen and Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Friends of the State Museum. 

Until the opening of Cherish Nebraska, the fourth floor of Morrill Hall had been closed off to the public for more than 50 years.  

Wipf said her daughter had been looking forward to going to Morrill Hall because her dad had been talking it up to her for months. He’d told Lilli how, when he was a kid, he and his father would send fossils they found exploring the creek beds around Weeping Water to the scientists at Morrill Hall.

After going to Morrill Hall that March day, Wipf said, Lilli came home and talked it up to her little sisters.

“Lilli absolutely loved it,” she said. “She was so excited that she came home and told her dad and her twin sisters all about it. Of course, the fourth floor was the main topic. She even wanted me to buy a season’s pass.”

The family, she said, is now  planning a return trip to Morrill Hall this summer.

 “It’s just such an amazing museum,”  Wipf said. “Honestly, I think a lot of kids who go there will now consider more science careers because of how interactive it is – we probably could have spent three or four hours just on the fourth floor. 

“We can’t wait to go back.”

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Morrill Hall Fund

A gift to this fund provides much needed support for the general benefit and support of the museum’s programs and exhibits. This fund is expendable, rather than endowed, meaning it is made available immediately to the museum for its priority needs. 

Food and shelter insecurities are an unfortunate reality for students at Nebraska and nationwide.

Those inspired to support the University of Nebraska–Lincoln during the communitywide Give to Lincoln Day on May 30 are encouraged to contribute to the the Huskers Helping Huskers Pantry+.

One in three students at Nebraska worries about not having enough food to eat. Gifts will benefit the Huskers Helping Huskers Pantry+ and support its work in providing free food and hygiene supplies to students in need throughout the year.

Huskers Pantry has helped more than 800 students since it opened in 2017 with more than 5,500 people visiting the pantry. During the last semester alone, an average of more than 92 students visited Huskers Pantry each week.

Gifts can be made on May 30 or any time before then.

Huskers Helping Huskers Pantry+ is partnering with the University of Nebraska Foundation to promote the support on May 30 for university community members who are in need.

Give to Lincoln Day is an annual 24-hour event that encourages people to contribute to Lincoln and Lancaster County nonprofit organizations on May 30, 2019. Give to Lincoln Day at givetolincoln.com is coordinated by the Lincoln Community Foundation in partnership with local nonprofit organizations.

Every donation makes a bigger impact on Give to Lincoln Day, because nonprofits also get a proportional share of a $450,000 match fund made possible by LCF and generous sponsors.