Legendary Women of UNO


Ellen Hartman Pearey GastIf you don't study history, you are bound to repeat it.

2010 Awardee

Ellen Hartman Pearey Gast


Ellen Hartman Pearey Gast was selected as the 1930's decade UNO Legendary Women because she thrived at UNO during the Great depression. She had a zest for life. She saw the value and importance of education and effective communication and the arts as the great defense in tough economic times. She saw the value of a great book or newspaper articles as tools to inspire and encourage citizens to transcend through the tough times. Ellen spent a lifetime communicating these lessons to others.

Ellen was a strong promoter of the importance of education. She taught 38 years in the Omaha public school system and was known by many as Omaha's Dean of journalism. She was a mentor to numerous news professionals and her former students recall fondly her attention to detail. She was respected for her red pen and her superior editing skills. In 1996 she was recognized for her excellence in teaching by being named by the Omaha World-Herald Outstanding Nebraska Teacher of the Year.

She was a wife, mother, grandmother, and nurturer of hundreds of young students. She balanced work and family at a time when most of her peers were forced to choose.

Her love of sports was illustrated by being a life-long booster at weekly high school and UNO sporting events. She involved herself in university activities before and after her graduation, serving as the President of the Alumni Association in 1971-72. Ellen was a life-long learner, avid reader, and she embraced the importance of understanding our global society by annually traveling to foreign countries. Ellen was an active community volunteer and she believed in the value of giving back to the community she lived in. Her leadership skills were recognized when she was asked to serve on the board of trustees for the YMCA and Douglas County Hospital.

About the Award

In 2009, the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women (CCSW) unanimously decided to offer an annual award to honor University of Nebraska at Omaha women alumni who have made lifelong contributions to UNO. The Legendary Woman of UNO Award will be introduced during Women’s History Month at the March 2010 CCSW luncheon. Members of the Women’s Centennial Archive Project (WCAP) joined the CCSW in selecting the first UNO woman for the award.

In the future, UNO students from both groups will join faculty and staff members as they review nominations and recommendations for the annual award.

Criteria for Selection

The woman must be deceased

No more than one woman may be selected each year for recognition

The committee will consider the impact the nominee had on:

  • Future of UNO
  • Issues pertaining to women
  • Environment for students, faculty and staff
  • Core institutional structure

Documentation to support her achievements


Women's Centennial Archive Project
Chancellor's Commission on the Status of Women
University of Nebraska at Omaha
UNO Alumni Association