OMAHA – One of the University of Nebraska at Omaha's (UNO) three campuses is now officially known as "Scott Campus" following a special dedication event that took place on Wednesday, Oct. 5.
Scott Campus will serve as the new name for what was formerly known as Pacific Campus, which includes land between Pacific and Shirley Streets from 64th Street to the Keystone Trail.
The campus is named in honor of Walter Scott, Jr., Chairman Emeritus of Peter Kiewit Sons' and a longtime supporter of UNO.
"Many of dad's peers have observed that Walter is someone who is always looking ahead, trying to envision the needs of his hometown, and its universities, five or 10 years down the road," said David Scott, Walter's son and the founder and chair of Tetrad Property Group in Omaha. "Well, here we are at the 20-year mark for this campus, and looking at the fruits of a partnership with UNO that has grown over those two decades, I'd say Dad's crystal ball was working pretty darn good."
The dedication took place at a private ceremony on the corner of 67th and Pacific Streets outside of the Peter Kiewit Institute. It was followed by an ice cream social in honor of recipients of the Scott Scholarship program, which is funded through the Suzanne and Walter Scott, Jr. Foundation.
In attendance at the dedication were Bryan and Stephanie Guy, two Scott Scholar alumni who were part of the first class to live in Scott Hall after it opened in 2000.
"While you can try to measure the Scott Scholarship in dollars, we, and hundreds of our fellow Scott Scholars, value Mr. Scott's generosity and support as a priceless and lifelong gift," Stephanie Guy said.
In attendance at the ceremony were representatives from the campus community, as well as the Scott Family, University of Nebraska, the NU Board of Regents and Omaha City Council.
"The power of education to transform a person’s life, in more ways than one, is something Walter knows about firsthand," NU President Hank Bounds said. "He carries those lessons with him today, and because of his generosity, a UNO education has been put within reach for countless young people."
While universities often name buildings or athletic spaces after donors or campus leaders, this is the first time a campus at any of the four universities in the University of Nebraska system has been recognized in such a way.
“Walter Scott's generosity has been transformational for the UNO campus,” said UNO Chancellor John Christensen. “His support has not only provided more than half of UNO's housing and other campus facilities, but it has supported so many of our students, who have gone on to do great things for our community. We would not be the campus we are today without Walter Scott. His tremendous support deserves a truly unique level of recognition."
Since 1990, Scott has provided more than $220 million in support to UNO either directly or through the University of Nebraska Foundation. This has included financial support to build the Peter Kiewit Institute, four housing units making up more than half of all beds on the UNO campus and scholarship support for anywhere from 130 to 150 students each year.
The dedication followed a recent decision by the Omaha City Council to approve the commemorative naming of 67th Street, from Pacific to Pine Streets, as “Scott Drive.”
"When the agenda item for renaming this campus after Mr. Scott was listed on the Board of Regents’ agenda, I took it upon myself to talk at length with students about their thoughts on the idea," said UNO Student Body President Patrick Davlin. "By and large, I got one of two reactions: the first was, 'That’s fitting since Walter Scott, Jr., basically made the Pacific Campus possible.' The second was, 'Well that’s great, because I’ve been calling it 'Scott Campus’ already.'"
One of Scott’s most significant impacts was support of PKI, which was designed as a home for UNO’s College of Information Science and Technology.
Appropriately, the Scott Campus dedication event occurs the same week as the UNO College of Information Science and Technology’s 20th anniversary celebration, which will launch the following day, Thursday, Oct. 6, in the PKI atrium.
Additional events celebrating IS&T's anniversary will run through Saturday, Oct. 8.
Native Omahan Walter Scott, Jr., has been exceptionally generous to the University of Nebraska system.
Scott's gifts funded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Walter Scott Engineering Center, named in honor of his father, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Suzanne & Walter Scott Cancer Research Tower. However, the philanthropy of Mr. Scott and his late wife, Suzanne, has been most transformative at UNO.
After providing a leadership-level gift to the campaign for the Peter Kiewit Institute building, Scott established the Scott Scholar program, which each year provides a full-ride scholarship to between 100 and 150 College of Engineering and College of Information Science & Technology students. His support led to the development of the Scott Hall, Scott Court, and Scott Village housing facilities, along with Scott Crossing, which will open in the fall of 2017. In addition, the Scott Technology Center leverages university research by serving as an incubator for emerging technology businesses.
Nineteen years ago, UNO began the transformation of the expansive AK-SAR-BEN property into an expanded campus with support of the Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation.
In 1997, UNO gained the opportunity to expand campus into the AK-SAR-BEN space when First Data bought 140 acres of land and donated half to our university.
But land was only half the equation. Building new facilities would take money. The Scott Foundation, among others, stepped forward to help by supporting the construction of a new University of Nebraska institute that would house the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Engineering and UNO’s new College of Information Science & Technology.
Walter Scott, Jr., was a driving force behind the development, spearheading a private fundraising effort.
Under his leadership, the University raised $47 million, including $15 million from the Peter Kiewit Foundation.
Just nine months after UNO received the land, crews broke ground at the future site of the Peter Kiewit Institute (PKI).
The next development would come two years later. Students taking classes at PKI needed a place to live that was closer to campus. The Scott Foundation wanted to help.
With construction already underway on University Village – UNO’s first on-campus housing - the Scott Foundation offered to build and pay for a facility for students studying at PKI.
A year later, Scott Residence Hall, Scott Conference Center and Scott Dining Hall opened.
Today, Scott Hall primarily houses students who have received the Walter Scott, Jr., Scholarship. It covers room and board; university fees; and required books and materials. Combined with the University of Nebraska Regents’ Scholarship, it’s a “full-ride.”
All told, more than 600 students over the past 20 years have earned scholarships to pursue degrees from the University of Nebraska in fields such as information assurance, computer engineering, computer science, and bioinformatics.
Additionally, as demand grew for more housing, the public-private partnership with the Scott Foundation remained critical. The Scott Foundation leveraged dollars and expertise for the construction of Scott Village in 2003 and Scott Court in 2011. All told, each semester there are 1,128 students living in Scott Housing.
Ultimately, the UNO campus would not be what it is today without Walter Scott and, thanks to a strong public-private partnership, the Scott Foundation has helped UNO continue to meet a growing demand as its mission as a premier metropolitan university.
This article was previously published in the Spring 2015 edition of the UNO Magazine
Omaha — and one Omaha man, Walter Scott, Jr., — have made all the difference in the life of Eric Gitt. Gitt grew up on a farm outside the tiny town of Wilcox, in central Nebraska. He wanted to have a career not far from home.
Thanks to earning the Walter Scott, Jr., Scholarship, he came to the UNO campus as a Scott Scholar, lived in a brand-new dorm, met his future wife, made great friends and experienced an exceptional education, he says, at the University of Nebraska’s world class Peter Kiewit Institute on UNO’s campus. Gitt, 34, graduated in 2003 with a degree in electronics engineering through UNL’s College of Engineering. He now lives in Omaha and works as an estimator for G4S Technology, which focuses on electronic security and telecommunications process.
“Not only did I benefit from Walter’s amazing generosity,” he says, “but I also benefited from his terrific example of hard work, leadership and kindness.”
Omaha — and Scott — have made all the difference for Kevin Walters, too. Walters, 33, came to Omaha from a town near Des Moines, Iowa, and graduated with a bachelor’s in computer engineering from UNL, also in 2003. He received his master’s in computer science in 2010 from UNO, and now lives with his wife and their 3-year old girl and baby boy in Omaha. He works in software development at TD Ameritrade.
Both young Omaha men say they and hundreds of other Scott Scholars have benefited from the philanthropic spirit of Scott. Both are board members of the Scott
Scholar Alumni Organization, whose members wanted to find a way to give back to the community, too.
They found it.
At a reception this past September in honor of Scott, members of the alumni group shared their plan – to raise enough money to eventually support one more Scott Scholar each year.
“The idea is to provide someone with the same opportunity that we were given,” Walters says. “We anticipate the recipients will meet all of the qualifications for the Scott Scholarship and also possess specific characteristics that make them ideal candidates for the scholarship from our organization.
“For instance, we may seek candidates who have a heightened sense of how we fit into the larger community – and who share a common goal of giving back.” The Walter Scott, Jr., Scholarship is the most prestigious scholarship awarded by PKI. The scholarship provides four years of funding for undergraduate programs based within the Peter Kiewit Institute and taught by the UNO College of Information Science & Technology or the UNL College of Engineering. The scholarship covers university fees, books, room and board at Scott Residence Hall as well as personal computers.
The new Scott Scholar Alumni Scholar will receive the same benefits. The Scott Scholar Alumni Organization is not sure when it will be able to award the first scholarship. The group’s immediate goal is to reach the endowment level to allow the money to compound.
“This is a very large long-term goal that will require mass participation to achieve,” Walters says.
The Scott Scholar Alumni Organization was founded in 2007. Its goal is to keep its alumni connected and to find ways for them to give back. “Walter Scott has been a great role model,” Gitt says, “and has inspired me towards a lifetime of giving back.”
Says Walters: “I’m proud to be a Scott Scholar and part of such an amazing group of people — made possible by a man I look up to and whose example has left a lasting impression.”
To learn more about the Scott Scholar Alumni Scholarship Fund or to make a contribution, please go to nufoundation.org or call the University of Nebraska Foundation at 800.432.3216.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.