Grand Island, Nebraska, native Haley Wiemers embarked on her journey at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Her story not only revolves around her pursuit of dreams but also underscores the pivotal role of donor support in shaping her path to success.

Wiemers attended Grand Island Senior High School, where she discovered her entrepreneurial spirit and embarked on a business venture. She aspired to establish a coffee shop named “The Bean.” Recognizing the need for a robust educational foundation to expand on her entrepreneurial dream, Wiemers, influenced by her parents who are proud UNK alumni, identified the Kearney campus as the ideal place to both chase her dreams and receive a quality education.

Wiemers acknowledges that without donor support, her college journey would have been considerably more difficult. Financial constraints could have stifled her involvement in extracurricular activities, club memberships, and full engagement in her studies. Generous donors have made it possible for her to enjoy a full college experience.

For Wiemers, scholarships are more than financial assistance; they symbolize a trusting investment in her future. She had the privilege of meeting two donors who are dedicated supporters of her education and believe in her potential. Their involvement and encouragement have continually fortified her commitment to success.

Beyond her entrepreneurial ambitions, Wiemers aspires to make a profound impact on her community. “I’m very passionate about kids having an education, I never want financials to be a burden or to be an obstacle that stops them from doing things in their life,” stated Wiemers. Drawing from her high school experiences, where she actively engaged in philanthropy and youth leadership programs, she envisions creating a scholarship program through her coffee shop.

Wiemers’ journey, from a determined high school student with dreams to a college student with a vision of giving back, serves as a potent testament to the impact of donor support on students’ lives and their communities. As she continues to pursue her dreams at UNK, Haley stands ready to leave behind a legacy of success and generosity, embodying the spirit of transformation through education and philanthropy.

UNK Fund

Student Scholarships

A gift to this fund bolsters the general student scholarship aid available to students within any UNK college.

For John Behrens and Alexis Bernthal, the Cyber Club at the University of Nebraska at Kearney is family.

Both Behrens and Bernthal are juniors studying computer science at UNK. Over the last year, Behrens said members of the club and UNK’s Department of Cyber Systems have worked tirelessly to grow the club. That work has paid off, with the club seemingly growing with each weekly meeting.

“A lot of us just want to have a community full of friends with similar interests,” Behrens, the club’s president, said. “I’m so proud of what we’ve worked on to build the club.”

Thanks to the generous gifts from donors during One Day for UNK, the Cyber Club is poised to grow even more. Funds raised this year will help fund Hackathons, weekly meetings and networking opportunities with employers.

“I feel like saying thank you to our donors is the most important thing,” Bernthal said. “I think this motivates more people to do good work and help each other in our community.”

As Behrens and Bernthal reflect on their time in the Cyber Club, they can’t help but think of the lifelong friendships they have created. It’s the kind of community they can call home.

“I’d say that most of my core friends are from the Cyber Club,” Behrens said. “It has been such a positive experience and I didn’t realize I would build the kind of relationships that I have through this club.”

Your support during One Day for UNK impacts the lives of students like Mackenzie. Thank you for making a gift to support UNK’s colleges, student organizations and making this year’s One Day for UNK a success!

Mackenzie Welsh didn’t have to go far to find her second home.

Welsh, a junior communication disorders major with a minor in women and gender studies, grew up in Papillion, NE. She knew she wanted a change of scenery as she pursued higher education, but also wanted to remain close to her family.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney quickly became Welsh’s top choice. The opportunity for an affordable education and proximity to home helped UNK stand out, but Welsh was sold on becoming a Loper after she visited campus for the first time.

“It just had a great hometown feel that I really appreciated when I first visited,” she said.

Once she arrived on campus, Welsh quickly found a family in the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. What started as an attempt to meet new people has now turned into a connection Welsh will carry for the rest of her life.

“It has probably been the best thing about my UNK experience by far,” she said. “I have met the most wonderful human beings. I love our community here and I would 100% say that it is one of the things that has kept me here at UNK.”

Greek life has also given Welsh the opportunity to become a leader on campus. She currently serves as president of the Panhellenic Council. Thanks to the gifts from donors during One Day for UNK, Welsh and the Panhellenic Council have opened the door for more women to experience Greek life by lowering recruitment costs.

She said One Day for UNK provides each chapter with a unique opportunity to come together for a single goal.

“It’s such a huge fundraiser that we can all collaborate on, which doesn’t usually happen,” she said. “I think that has just brought this sense of togetherness and I’m grateful for giving days like this because it’s just so helpful to all of our student organizations. I know that Greek life will benefit greatly from it.”

Your support during One Day for UNK impacts the lives of students like Mackenzie. Thank you for making a gift to support UNK’s colleges, student organizations and making this year’s One Day for UNK a success!

Kiphany Hof and the student health and counseling team at the University of Nebraska at Kearney have a singular goal — to help each student stay healthy in mind and body.

For the UNK counseling team, that means providing quality mental health to each student enrolled at UNK. Services range from offering support to students who are having a difficult time adjusting to college to assisting students with diagnosable mental health disorders.

“We really kind of specialize in what’s going on with students who are in college or this age group,” Hof, associate director of student health and counseling, said. “A lot of our work is done in and around anxiety and depression, academic distress, relationships and eating disorders. Those are some of the common things that we see.”

Hof said research has shown that this new generation of students — raised in a world where constant connection, social media and screen time have become the norm — are reporting the worst mental health symptoms seen in decades.

That, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbated those issues and the need for mental health services. The pandemic forced universities to transition to online counseling and telehealth services, sometimes leading counseling resources for students to become even harder to obtain.

“There are a lot of universities that were not able to keep up with the demand for counseling services, so they went into a major waitlist,” Hof said.

While UNK’s counseling team never found themselves in that position, Hof said she knew this generation of students’ connection to social media meant many did their mental health research online.

“We’re seeing that some of the information students are getting about mental health from social media platforms is not exactly accurate,” she said. “We don’t necessarily want them always getting their information from TikTok, but we also know that’s the kind of place where students turn to for support.”

Hof found a solution to this problem through Togetherall — an online service that combines the community found in a social media platform with the mental health resources needed to reach a new generation of students.

The platform provides students with a community at their fingertips to connect at any time. Students can anonymously share posts, read blogs and even talk with licensed mental health professionals.

“It’s a nice way for students if the counseling center isn’t open when they’re struggling,” she said. “They can hop on Togetherall and get some support.”

Thanks to the gifts made to the UNK Student Health Fund during One Day For UNK, Hof and the UNK Counseling Center were able to implement Togetherall campuswide in 2022. That fall, 250 students enrolled in the service.

Of those students, nearly half said they were not currently seeing a professional mental health counselor. Nearly one-third of enrolled students had a 1:1 interaction with a Togetherall clinician. Those results show that this additional resource has been a critical tool for students.

Hof said the gifts provided from donors to help fund resources like this aren’t just beneficial to students. They’re lifesaving.

“Their donation is actually helping save students’ lives, because so many students are having significant thoughts of suicide and feeling alone,” she said. “It may be that, because of their donations, we could buy this service that is helping somebody not take their life in that moment. I honestly believe that’s true.”

You can support the UNK Student Health Fund and countless other programs and student organizations during One Day for UNK on Oct. 5-6. This 24-hour giving day provides anybody from longtime supporters to recent graduates with an opportunity to positively impact the University of Nebraska at Kearney and its students.

During One Day for UNK, you will have the chance to make an impactful gift that benefits a variety of different areas on campus, including the following:

Visit today to make your gift and help us make this year’s One Day for UNK our biggest, most impactful year yet.

In a family of University of Nebraska–Lincoln alumni, Turner Plugge decided to keep his studies in his hometown of Kearney, Nebraska. The sophomore at the University of Nebraska at Kearney studies business administration with an emphasis in finance and hopes to become a financial adviser post-graduation.

A recipient of the College of Business and Technology Community Scholarship, Turner lived and studied with other members who received this award during their freshman year. Receiving this scholarship not only allowed Turner to immediately have a community of support during his first year away from home, but also allowed him to connect and grow with other like-minded students.

Scholarships like Turner’s are essential in helping students achieve their educational goals and giving them access to opportunities they might not otherwise have. They are a great resource for

students who have financial difficulties and assist in reducing the load of tuition expenses, allowing students to concentrate on their studies and personal development.

“Not worrying as much about money and really focusing on diving deep into what I’m studying has been very helpful,” explained Turner.

The scholarship also gave him access to a group of peers with comparable academic and professional interests. During his first year of college, Turner shared housing and educational opportunities with other scholarship recipients, building a community where he could work together, share ideas and gain knowledge from his peers.

“The Business and Technology Community Scholarship has really propelled me forward and allowed me to afford the classes that I really want to take,” explained Turner. “It’s been extremely helpful to me while giving me a track to do what I really want to do.”

Turner said the realization hit him on his senior scholarship night: “Everyone at first just sees money in their account, but in that moment, I realized that this support was changing my life.” Being able to focus on his classes and build a web of connections has allowed Turner to more vigorously pursue his aspirations of becoming a financial adviser.

Turner continued, “Without support from alumni and donors, a lot of kids like me wouldn’t make it to where they want to be.”

Providing support to the University of Nebraska and its students provides brighter opportunities for the UNK community and creates a web of generational trust between past and present Lopers. Please consider making a donation today to help us provide more opportunities like these to UNK students.

The Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation of Chicago is making a major gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation to create four endowed student scholarship funds and to expand and permanently endow 14 existing scholarship funds. The scholarships will benefit students across the University of Nebraska system who meet the criteria of each.

This article originally appeared on Nebraska Today.

To contribute to any of these Universities and specifically CoJMC at UNL, see the links below:

An additional gift of $755,000 from the Meier Foundation will support the construction of a new television studio and newsroom at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications. It replaces an existing studio and will include a newsroom, television control area and three separate news sets. It will incorporate cutting-edge technology that supports live broadcasts or one-person productions.

A 1941 Husker alumnus, the late Donald “Don” Meier used estate planning to direct assets from his charitable foundation to provide significant support for the University of Nebraska. During their lives, Meier and his late wife, Lorena, gave regularly to the university and established 14 student scholarship funds, the first one being created in 1999.

“The generous support from Donald and Lorena Meier — during their lives and through planned giving — will help make the university even more accessible and affordable for thousands of students,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “Support for a new, state-of-the-art TV studio and newsroom will also offer a truly professional experience for journalism students.

“The philanthropic mark made by Don and Lorena on our students and the entire University of Nebraska system will continue for generations.”

The Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation has committed to transfer assets to the University of Nebraska Foundation over the next several years to fulfill the Meiers’ wishes of helping young people achieve their educational goals.

“Don and Lorena Meier cared deeply about Don’s alma mater and assisting students in achieving their own career success and enjoyment,” said David Shoub, president of the Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation. “Over the next 25 years, the foundation plans to provide an estimated $10 million in support of student scholarships to fulfill the charitable wishes of Don and Lorena. We’re pleased to be carrying forth their aspirations in making a University of Nebraska education possible for more promising students for generations to come.”

Don and Lorena Meier had distinguished media careers that included the production of award-winning national network television shows, the most popular and long running being Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” and “Zoo Parade.”

“Wild Kingdom” was an Emmy-winning wildlife documentary program starring Marlin Perkins that aired from 1963 to 1971 on NBC, after which it entered syndication. Episodes of the program air on RFD-TV, with new and updated content across many of its digital properties.

Meier also produced “Zoo Parade,” a 1950s NBC program featuring animals from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Prior to producing these programs, Meier served as an NBC producer for several local programs and events, including television broadcasts of Chicago Cubs and White Sox baseball games.

Don Meier’s interest in supporting student scholarships was influenced by his own experience at the University of Nebraska. During his lifetime, he considered different ways to support the university but was especially drawn to opportunities for scholarships or other projects that directly benefit students.

“I had no other dream than to go to the University of Nebraska,” he told the university in 2008 in announcing his plans for significant support of student scholarships.

Don Meier’s dream did not come easy. He worked off and on during college, sometimes taking up to a year off to work or to return home to Oshkosh, Nebraska, where he had a job as a high school librarian. He completed his college education in six years.

“I remember my own struggles to complete my college education,” he once said. “In those days, back in the 1930s, they didn’t have a lot of scholarships. I just remember how tough it was for me to make it. It became apparent to me as I pursued my own career that the main thing is not only the support, but it’s important to get kids into college, and I agree with my wife who says that all students should seek to expand their potential by seeking full development of their talent.”

Lorena Meier died June 22, 2018, at age 100, and Don Meier died July 13, 2019, at age 104.

The Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation has committed over several years to support new and existing scholarship funds that were established by Don and Lorena Meier. Students enrolled in the following colleges and areas of the University of Nebraska who meet certain scholarship criteria are eligible:

University of Nebraska–Lincoln:

University of Nebraska at Kearney:

Any University of Nebraska campus:



Story from the University of Nebraska at Kearney

“It’s one of the most transformational projects we’ve had on this campus ever.” – UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen

A partnership between the University of Nebraska at Kearney and University of Nebraska Medical Center, the proposed Rural Health Education Building in Kearney will further address the need for more health care workers in the state’s rural areas.

The Rural Health Education Building would build upon an existing partnership between UNK and UNMC that’s shown great success. The two institutions opened a $19 million Health Science Education Complex on UNK’s west campus in 2015, and that facility quickly filled to capacity.

The new Rural Health Education Building would allow UNMC to expand its existing nursing programs and bring new options to the UNK campus, including occupational therapy, medical nutrition, genetic counseling and respiratory care – all high-need areas in rural Nebraska.

For the first time, the UNMC College of Medicine would educate physicians in rural Nebraska, and a Master of Health Administration would be added to complement UNK’s undergraduate program.

The Rural Health Education Building would also offer professional development, training and continuing education opportunities for existing health care workers and support research that improves the lives of Nebraskans.

Healthy Blue Nebraska is supporting a University of Nebraska at Kearney project focused on the broadband internet disparities that exist in rural Nebraska with a $100,000 gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation.

Affordable, high-speed internet is almost a necessity in today’s world, yet many people in Nebraska and the U.S. still lack access. The Federal Communications Commission estimates 19 million Americans don’t have access to broadband services. Most of these people – 14.5 million – live in rural areas.

Through its Rural Measures project, UNK is examining the digital divide that exists across the state, giving regulatory agencies and internet providers a clearer picture of where broadband infrastructure needs to improve. This is especially important because the internet delivers a wide range of healthcare services and information while being equally important in education, business and more.

“This donation will provide our rural communities with resources to stay connected, promote health and wellness, and enable emotional and social support,” said Dr. Rob Rhodes, president of Healthy Blue Nebraska. “If rural patients have a good internet connection, they can expand their options for medical services and specialists while also saving time, money and avoiding unnecessary travel. Healthy Blue continues to adopt a digital-first approach within the local community and connect with members when they want and how they want it, putting them at the center. Technology is helping close gaps in care and better support members across the state. Connectivity is crucial for continuing education, getting or maintaining a job, and accessing benefits and services.”

The Rural Measures project is led by the College of Business and Technology in collaboration with other areas of UNK.

“We feel for the people in our rural areas who experience poor-quality broadband service,” said Tim Obermier, professor of industrial technology and cyber systems at UNK and a Rural Measures coleader. “You hear all the time about people who are unable to get good, quality internet service. Because of the ever-increasing need for this technology, it affects people’s lives in substantial ways.”

In a state where roughly 35% of the residents live in rural areas, it’s easy to spot the disparities in broadband internet service, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to do more online from home. This has exposed “gaping holes” in Nebraska’s internet infrastructure, according to Angela Hollman, associate professor of cyber systems at UNK and a Rural Measures coleader.

“Access to quality internet service directly impacts a lot of people in a lot of ways,” Hollman said. “This has been a big motivator for us to try to figure out how we can help Nebraska solve this problem, so we’re grateful to Healthy Blue Nebraska for its support of this work.”

The Rural Measures project uses a small, in-home device known as a QT (quantitative throughput) to accurately test and report the broadband speeds internet users are experiencing. Participants in the study also complete a survey to provide an even fuller range of information collected on internet service use and experiences. More information about the project is at

About Healthy Blue

Healthy Blue helps improve healthcare access and quality for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) members in Nebraska. Healthy Blue serves Nebraskans by developing and delivering innovative care management programs and services. Healthy Blue members are assured care that is not only accessible, but also accountable, comprehensive, integrated and patient-centered. It provides ongoing community relations and outreach to encourage members to become active participants in their healthcare. For more information about Healthy Blue, please visit, and follow the company on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyBlueNE and LinkedIn @healthy-blue-nebraska.

The Big Blue Cupboard at the University of Nebraska at Kearney is helping students in need.

Stocking Up On Essentials And Empathy

Josh Planos

Assistant Director of Communications

UNK’s Big Blue Cupboard helps students in need. 

Luis Olivas knows the contours of Grand Central Apple Market well.

He’s learned who the quickest baggers are and who will point out active markdowns.

Rolling through checkout with 45 TV dinners or enough produce to comfortably feed a residence hall typically elicits a second glance, a probing question or two.

Olivas has grown accustomed to the attention. One of his responsibilities as diversity coordinator in the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Nebraska at Kearney is to keep the Big Blue Cupboard stocked. So as the coronavirus emptied businesses throughout the country, Olivas was still making biweekly speed-runs through the grocery store, filling his cart with peculiar quantities of food.

Hundreds of students rely on the Big Blue Cupboard — and, in turn, Olivas — whether learning is remote or not. To keep the cupboard operational during the spring, Olivas alternated shifts with Juan Guzman, director of the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion.

Both were first-generation, Latino college students who earned associate degrees at Central Community College before attending and serving UNK.

“We have many immigrant and international students as well as refugee and asylum-seeking students,” Olivas said. “Thus, it’s super important for them to be able to see somebody that has been in their shoes to not only create empathy but also to be able to relate on a personal level.”

It’s super important for them to be able to see somebody that has been in their shoes to not only create empathy but also to be able to relate on a personal level.

As an undergraduate student, when Guzman returned to Kearney from weekend trips home to Grand Island, he made sure to have meals in tow.

He vividly remembers the hunger that comes from prioritizing tuition or rent as a month winds to a close. And he remembers the strength of a community that lifts each member in times of need.

“Juan is a big inspiration to UNK students and the UNK community,” said Sergio Ceja, a Loper graduate who’s currently studying at the University of Alabama.

Olivas said, “He’s one of the university’s biggest assets. If it wasn’t for him, dozens if not hundreds of students wouldn’t have been able to come to college or realize their full potential.”

Nineteen years after Guzman arrived at UNK, his most indelible marks can be found in a quiet corner on the first floor of the student union.

After watching a conference presentation on food insecurity, Guzman vowed to bring a food pantry to his alma mater. The Big Blue Cupboard opened in April 2012 and has since served thousands of students, staff and community members, with an average of 1,200 food and hygiene items distributed each month.

“We have many students from different backgrounds, so we always make sure to have certain ingredients, to make sure we meet those cultural needs,” Guzman said.

Students can use a mobile app to shop for items, which in turn helps employees learn the diet of the student body. And understanding that audience is paramount.

“We can have 5,000 creamed corn cans in there,” Olivas said, “but that doesn’t mean students are going to take them.”

That the cupboard is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of campus isn’t by accident. Stigmas can turn hungry students away, so Guzman was careful in the planning phase to mitigate this issue.

We have many students from different backgrounds, so we always make sure to have certain ingredients, to make sure we meet those cultural needs.

Even as students left campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, Guzman and Olivas saw an immediate uptick in demand, with more than 1,000 items leaving the shelves over a single week. Frozen meals went especially fast, as daily food trips were suddenly questionable. So Guzman and Olivas submitted a request for a second deep freezer.

Approval was granted within five minutes.

“We can’t say enough about the leadership here,” Guzman said.

Shortly after Chancellor Doug Kristensen announced that in-person classes would be suspended, he raised an additional $10,000 for the cupboard in private donations.

“Putting food on the tables of students is the most fundamental thing I can do to help,” Kristensen said.

Kristensen has led UNK for nearly two decades. Campus support for The Big Blue Cupboard is on the short list of what makes him most proud.  

“When you watch our students give their own time and money to go out and serve those meals, I’ll remember that for a very long time,” he said.

Stepping into the unknown was an on-the-fly exercise for everyone, Guzman said, but it was deftly navigated, from the top down.

Speaking on the phone at the cupboard, Olivas said, “Even though most of our students may not physically be here, they know that we as staff and faculty are 100 percent there for them. That connection has not been lost.”

The cupboard is home to a thousand ingredients and two eternal vows:

No student should go hungry.

What’s mine is yours.

“I feel like that sets UNK and the University of Nebraska system apart: Even though our buildings may be closed, the learning is still happening,” Olivas said. “Those students are still being provided for. They are still safe.”


Looking for more features?

This isn’t your average child care center.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney’s newest building raises the bar for early childhood education, setting a standard for high-quality learning and instruction that will benefit the state’s youngest residents for generations to come.

Members of the UNK community and guests from across the state got their first look inside the game-changing facility during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 8, 2019, for the LaVonne Kopecky Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center, a $7.8 million building that officially opens Nov. 4 on UNK’s University Village development.

“The Plambeck Center is going to be a model for the best early childhood education centers in the United States,” said Chancellor Doug Kristensen, who called the 19,900-square-foot building a “shining jewel” on the UNK campus.

“There’s really no place like this in the state of Nebraska,” Kristensen said while noting the impact it will have on local families, UNK students and communities across the region. “The possibilities here are endless.”

The Plambeck Center, which replaces UNK’s Child Development Center, is the first academic building in the University Village footprint. Located near the Village Flats housing complex, it features 11 classrooms that will serve up to 180 children from infant to age 6, including those with special needs, with spots available for UNK students, staff and faculty, as well as families from the Kearney area.

“By opening the doors to the community, the center will serve a more diverse group of children and give UNK students a chance to work with families from different backgrounds,” Kristensen said.

Led by highly trained educators, the center allows children to explore reading, writing, art, music, sciences and physical education in structured learning environments that utilize either creative curriculum, building on children’s knowledge to develop confidence, creativity and critical-thinking skills, or the Montessori teaching method, a student-centered approach that encourages exploration, independence and lifelong learning.

“This is much more than a building,” University of Nebraska interim President Susan Fritz said during Tuesday’s event. “It’s a signal to children and families, to our students, and to the community that we are making an investment in the future.”


In addition to serving Kearney-area families, the Plambeck Center will address a statewide need for early childhood educators by training undergraduate and graduate students in a hands-on setting that exposes them to the best teaching methods.

“We know there’s a severe shortage of high-quality early childhood education providers,” said Grace Mims, interim dean of UNK’s College of Education. “That’s been a big issue, especially for rural Nebraska.”

According to the 2018 Kids Count in Nebraska Report, nine counties statewide had no licensed child care facilities in 2017, and a majority of Nebraska counties with child care facilities didn’t have enough available spots to meet the estimated demand.

First Five Nebraska, a group working to improve early childhood education in the state, estimates Nebraska needs more than 7,900 highly qualified early childhood professionals to serve only at-risk children facing poverty and other challenges. Currently, there are about 2,000 of these professionals working in the state.

“It’s a workforce need and a community need,” said Mims, noting that child care and early education are among the top priorities for employees and businesses looking to move into a community.

UNK’s early childhood education program, which is among the largest in the state with more than 260 majors, can play a key role in building this skilled workforce.

“It’s exciting to have a facility like this in our community,” said Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Derek Rusher, who called the Plambeck Center the “Cadillac” of early childhood education. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Kearney.”


The Plambeck Center will serve as a lab school for UNK, giving early childhood and elementary education students an opportunity to work directly with children while learning from top-notch instructors.

This opens the door for numerous professional development and experiential learning opportunities, including observations, practicums, internships, student teaching, diagnostic testing and research.

“The Early Childhood Education Center already is a destination for some of the best faculty in the country,” Fritz said. “It’s a place where undergraduate and graduate students will become our best teachers.”

The Plambeck Center will also promote interdisciplinary collaborations across UNK’s three colleges and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, benefiting faculty and students in areas such as communication disorders, physical and special education, family studies, psychology, social work, fine arts and nursing, and advance and create partnerships at the community, state and national levels.

Those partnerships, including the vision shared by UNK, UNMC and the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, demonstrate the University of Nebraska’s commitment to early childhood education, Fritz said.

“The Plambeck Center is another example of what we as a university system, and UNK specifically, are doing to help Nebraska thrive,” she said. “It is providing incredible opportunities to build on our momentum.”

A financial gift from LaVonne Kopecky Plambeck of Omaha, a longtime advocate for early childhood education, added two dedicated Montessori classrooms to the Early Childhood Education Center named in her honor, as well as an endowed Montessori education professorship and an endowed fund that will support workshops, seminars and other outreach activities for early childhood education providers across Nebraska.

“LaVonne’s vision to bring this kind of expertise and emphasis on early childhood education to UNK will impact the state forever,” said Mims, who recognized Plambeck with the Early Childhood Pioneer Award during last month’s Early Childhood Conference at UNK.