It was a special year for UNO in 2014 with countless events, achievements, special guest visits and national recognitions for students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Virginia R. Pettengill, the former co-owner of Johnson Hardware - one of Omaha's oldest and most successful businesses - was one of the strongest supporters of UNO's College of Business. Upon her passing, that commitment continued on in the form of a $6.4 million endowment that ranks as the single highest investment in student scholarships in the college's history.
Pettengill Leaves $6.4 Million Endowment
Beginning in 2015, students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) College of Business Administration (CBA) will benefit from one of the largest funds ever established in support of student scholarships and programs in the campus’ history.
Thanks to a combined $6.47 million endowment left by the late Virginia R. Pettengill, the UNO CBA will be able to provide thousands of dollars in support to students each year, as well as provide investment in programs that will sustain the college into the future.
“This gift, left by Mrs. Pettengill, will open so many doors for our students,” explained Louis Pol, dean of the College of Business Administration. “Now, more than ever, a college education is important for success later in life and this funding can help remove a number of financial barriers students may face when starting or finishing that education."
Pettengill, who passed away in 2010, had been a fan of UNO and CBA for many years. Her husband, Bill Pettengill, was a former student and she often came to campus to browse in the library or take in a music performance at the Strauss Performing Arts Center.
Both Bill and Virginia Pettengill are well known in Omaha for their ownership of Johnson Hardware, during which time Virginia provided accounting and bookkeeping for the business.
“Virginia really had a strong business acumen and understood the importance of a business education,” Pol said. “During my time as Dean, I had many conversations with Virginia about the future of UNO, the future of CBA, and I really think she had faith in what we have been trying to accomplish.”
Before her death, Virginia got the opportunity to visit the CBA’s new home, Mammel Hall, during its construction. Unfortunately, her health deteriorated soon after and she was unable to see the building completed and opened for students that fall.
The Pettengills were also well known for their generosity towards local charities. In addition to the nearly $7 million in endowed funds left to support CBA, the Pettengill estate provided an additional $2.4 million to local charities, including the Women’s Center for Advancement, American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association.
The current plan for the endowment is to use portions for 25 student scholarships, which will be tied to academic performance and need; stipends for international travel for students; as well as support for college-specific programs.
“What makes this gift so important is that it isn’t just one-time funding,” Pol said. “This will support students at the business college in perpetuity.”