Interim President Fritz announces Presidential Medal of Service recipients

December 9, 2019

University of Nebraska Interim President Susan Fritz today announced the 2019 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Service, an annual honor that celebrates Nebraskans’ support and advocacy for the NU system.

This year’s recipients are the Nebraska Association of County Extension Boards, Tom Henning of Kearney, and Michael Yanney and Dr. Gail Walling Yanney of Omaha – all strong champions of the university and the vital role education plays in growing the state’s economy and well-being, Fritz said.

“One of the extraordinary blessings of serving at the University of Nebraska is being part of a community that truly cares about the success of the institution,” she said. “So many Nebraskans are willing to lift up their voices in support of an affordable, accessible, competitive university.

“Thanks to their efforts, we are in an even stronger position to serve our 51,000 students and people around the world. We are honored to publicly recognize their service.”

Created in 2018, the Presidential Medal is the highest honor that the NU president can bestow upon a community member. Fritz opened a call for nominations for the medal late this summer.

The 2019 honorees are:

The Nebraska Association of County Extension Boards, the primary advocacy partner of Nebraska Extension at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The 47-year-old nonprofit organization comprises more than 550 Extension board members, representing all 93 counties, who are embedded in the communities, businesses and families the university exists to serve. They volunteer their time to assist with Extension programming and bring university research to their communities. The association’s advocacy efforts are headlined by an annual legislative day in which delegates visit with their state senators to champion a strong Extension, UNL and NU system. In the 2019 legislative, delegates met with almost every member of the Legislature to urge support for NU’s biennial budget request. The association recently embarked on a “NextGen NACEB” strategic planning effort to enhance its advocacy for Extension and the university for the future.

Tom Henning of Kearney, president and CEO of Cash-Wa Distributing Co. Henning, a UNL graduate, has been active in civic causes in Kearney and across the state for decades. He is a member of the UNK Alumni Association, the Loper Athletic Club and the UNK Chancellor’s Circle. He is a past member of the University of Nebraska Foundation Board of Directors and served on the UNK committee for the Campaign for Nebraska, the Foundation’s most recent comprehensive fundraising campaign. As a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Business and Technology, Henning played a role in helping develop the college’s supply chain management emphasis – a program with a 100 percent job placement rate. In 2012 Henning received the Ron & Carol Cope Cornerstone of Excellence Award from UNK.

Michael Yanney and Dr. Gail Walling Yanney of Omaha. The Yanneys are champions of a variety of youth education, arts, health and other causes in Omaha and across the state. Their support for the University of Nebraska includes leadership of the recent fundraising campaign for the renovation of a new home for the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The project, supported by private dollars and the State of Nebraska’s partnership, will allow MMI to double its existing square footage and enhance its ability to serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Yanneys also have played a role in almost every capital project at UNMC over the past two decades, including the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, the largest public-private partnership in university history. Both Yanneys are NU alumni; Michael Yanney is chairman emeritus of Burlington Capital and Dr. Gail Walling Yanney is a former clinical instructor at UNMC and former anesthesiologist at Bishop Clarkson Memorial Hospital.

The Presidential Medal of Service recipients were honored at a recent luncheon hosted by Fritz that included remarks from UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green, who spoke about the impact of the NACEB; UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen, who spoke about Tom Henning; and UNMC and University of Nebraska at Omaha Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., who spoke about the Yanneys. The medal recipients will be recognized at the next Board of Regents meeting on Feb. 7, 2020.

Media Contact:
Melissa Lee
Director of Communications,
University of Nebraska