Legendary Women of UNO


Nell Marguerite WardChemistry is my obsession. It goes by leaps and bounds and I can never get it by the tail.

2013 Awardee

Nell Marguerite Ward


Dr. Nell Ward is the 1940’s Legendary Woman. She served UNO for 37 years as a passionate advocate for the study of chemistry and for her students. She started at UNO in 1918 and by the time she left in 1955, she was a tenured professor, had served as chair of the department, as dean of women and was named professor emeritus.

Nell was a native Nebraskan who grew up in Lincoln, NE, married John Lester Doan and died in 1981. Her interest in science came early to her. The chemical disasters of World War I and the burgeoning growth of scientific exploration and its related discoveries captured her attention. She was intrigued by the endless possibilities and variables in experiments as exemplified by some of the inventions from that era: color television, atomic bomb, Velcro, the Jeep, the electronic digital computer, the microwave oven, the Slinky, Silly Putty, Plastic Frisbees, the transistor and mobile phone.

Nell’s scientific expertise was recognized locally and nationally. When there was no publication to recognize women in science, publications for men in science recognized her. Her achievements are in Who’s Who in Science, a biographical directory of women in science, among others. Nell was named as a fellow in the American Institute of Chemistry in 1951.

Nell spent a lifetime promoting the importance of science education and was an active fundraiser for student scholarships. She founded the honorary society for students in the top 10 per cent at UNO. Her legacy is not just in the titles she held but in the inspiration she gave to her students. Her devotion to their learning and carrying on the tradition of promoting chemistry to even more students is what she would want us to remember.

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