Increased access and success for current and future students is the focus of a two-year, $200 million fundraising initiative announced today by the University of Nebraska and University of Nebraska Foundation.
The “Our Students, Our Future” initiative, which will conclude at the end of 2017, will provide direct support for university students through need- and merit-based scholarships that will make their college education more affordable; support for programs that improve student outcomes, particularly among traditionally underrepresented students; improvements to facilities that will enhance the learning experience; and other student-focused priorities.
Our Students, Our Future seeks to not only advance the university’s highest priority of affordable excellence, but also position the university to attract more students in support of its goals to significantly grow enrollment and produce more graduates for Nebraska’s workforce.
“I’ve been fortunate to experience firsthand the transformative power of higher education. My goal is for the University of Nebraska to be accessible to every student who wants to change their life in the same way education changed mine,” said NU President Hank Bounds. “The university is doing great things to advance the Board of Regents’ priority of affordable excellence. Yet we know unmet need remains. With support from generous alumni and friends, Our Students, Our Future will help us become a giant in higher education, doing even more to ensure affordability and success for our students – the future leaders of Nebraska.”
Bounds noted that because of stable support from the state, the university has been able to keep tuition and fees across the campuses at least 25 percent below the peer averages. More than half of all NU undergraduates receive financial aid. Still, most NU students – including 77 percent of UNK undergraduates, 72 percent of UNO undergraduates and 62 percent of UNL undergraduates – apply for need-based financial aid, demonstrating that need remains high. To help ensure that the university remains accessible for students and families, and to be successful in growing enrollment, which this year reached a 22-year high, the university must maintain its focus on supporting students, Bounds said.
Our Students, Our Future seeks gifts that will increase both immediate, expendable funds available for student scholarships, as well as permanently endowed scholarship funds that will enable the university to support many generations of students. In addition, the initiative seeks funding for university programs focused on helping students stay in school and complete their degree, as well as support for learning facilities that meet student interests and enhance the learning experience.
“Past and current support from University of Nebraska alumni and friends has been nothing short of phenomenal, and that generosity has helped position our university to meet the needs of our state and citizens,” said Brian Hastings, president and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation. “Our Students, Our Future will build on that momentum through strategic, targeted investments in our students that will ensure affordable access to an excellent education, aid the university’s enrollment growth objectives, assist with student completion and success initiatives, and enhance the learning environment and student experience.”
Objectives of Our Students, Our Future include:
- Learning communities at UNO and UNK, which allow students in the same academic programs to live and study together, improving their chances of success.
- Campus support services for military and veteran students at UNO, which is currently ranked as the most military-friendly university in the country.
- UNO’s Strauss Performing Arts Center, where expanded classroom and performance space is needed to meet the needs of the growing number of music majors on campus.
- Scholarships for students enrolled in programs of emphasis at UNK, including health care, business, education, math, engineering and science, as well as the Honors Program, which attracts top student talent.
- The Nebraska Legends scholarship program at UNL, which helps attract students within and beyond Nebraska, and scholarships for the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, which draws top students with computer science and interdisciplinary business knowledge.
- Renovation at UNL’s Love Library to create a learning commons area that will provide a space for student use 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and creation of a commons area on East Campus that will create collaborative community space for student and faculty interaction. Plans include renovation at the Nebraska East Union and Food Industry Complex/Filley Hall, as well as a new plaza, student housing and renovation of the C.Y. Thompson Library.
- UNMC’s Interdisciplinary Experiential Center for Enduring Learning (iEXCEL), a “virtual reality” education center that will allow students to learn and test their skills in a life-like environment.
- Programs at UNMC that expose high school and undergraduate students to opportunities in health care, thus creating a stronger pipeline of future health workers, as well as scholarship programs for rural, low-income and other underserved students.
- Scholarships for graduate students at UNMC, for whom fellowships and stipends are a key tool for recruitment and retention.
“The focus of programs and initiatives on each campus may be unique, but the end goal is the same: a direct impact on our students and an enhancement of their University of Nebraska experience,” Hastings said.
Any gift made to the University of Nebraska Foundation in support of a student scholarship fund or student-oriented program before the end of 2017 will count toward the $200 million goal. To learn more about Our Students, Our Future, or to give online, visit nufoundation.org/ourstudentsourfuture.
Our Students, Our Future comes on the heels of the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities, a nine-year comprehensive fundraising campaign that ended Dec. 31, 2014, after raising more than $1.8 billion for the University of Nebraska. Student support was among the highest priorities of the campaign, and donors contributed more than $273 million for scholarships, fellowships and other forms of student support. Our Students, Our Future will build on that momentum, expanding affordable access even further for students and families.
About the University of Nebraska Foundation
The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that has raised private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for more than 79 years. During the 2013-2014 fiscal year, donors provided the university with $258.1 million for scholarships, academic programs, medical and other research, faculty support and facilities. Our Students, Our Future is the foundation’s current initiative to secure broad support for students. For more information, visit nufoundation.org.
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