The University of Nebraska's most prestigious award, the Regents Medal, will be presented tomorrow in honor of the late Robert B. Daugherty of Omaha, the legendary irrigation pioneer and founder of Valmont Industries Inc. whose charitable foundation provided a $50 million gift last year to establish the university's global Water for Food Institute.
Daugherty – whose lifelong commitment to developing ways to use water efficiently and effectively to feed more people contributed to a dramatic increase in agricultural productivity – died in November in his native Omaha at age 88. His family will accept the medal on his behalf.
"Thanks to Bob Daugherty's foresight and generosity, the University of Nebraska is in a position to take a leadership role in solving a challenge that is critical both in Nebraska and around the world," said Board of Regents Chairman Bob Whitehouse. "Through its focus on the sustainable use of water for agriculture, the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute has the potential to positively impact the quality of life for millions of people. On behalf of the Board of Regents, I want to express our deep gratitude to Bob Daugherty for the gift he has shared with the University – and the world."
In addition to founding Valmont, the world's most successful irrigation company where he served for more than five decades, and helping to transform production agriculture, Daugherty also was a leading figure in the Omaha and Nebraska communities throughout his career. He became a mentor to many civic and business leaders in Omaha and contributed generously to educational and other causes in which he believed. He served as director for a number of Omaha corporations and, through the creation of his namesake charitable foundation, became well-known as a philanthropist as well as an innovator and entrepreneur.
The gift from the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation to establish the Water for Food Institute, announced in April 2010, is one of the largest in NU's history. It is one of the hallmark gifts of the Campaign for Nebraska, the University of Nebraska Foundation's ongoing comprehensive fundraising campaign for which water for food is one of six priority academic areas. Whitehouse noted that the Board of Regents voted earlier this year to name the Water for Food Institute in Daugherty's honor. The institute is a university-wide, interdisciplinary research, education and policy analysis center dedicated to the efficient use of the world's freshwater resources to feed a growing global population.
Among the successes of the Daugherty Institute during its first year:
Milliken added, “Bob Daugherty was a true pioneer and visionary who saw that the University of Nebraska was in the right place at the right time to become a global leader in the use of water for agriculture. We will do all we can to fulfill his vision of creating an institute where the world's best minds come together to find solutions that will improve the quality of life for people around the world.”
The Regents Medal was established by the Board of Regents in 2006 to recognize individuals whose service to NU's four campuses has provided "exceptional benefits in furtherance of the goals and mission of the institution." Regents Medal winners are selected by the Board.
The first recipient was the late Charles W. Durham. In 2009, the medal was awarded to Omaha philanthropists Ruth and Bill Scott.
Contact: Melissa Lee
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