Omaha philanthropists Barbara and Wally Weitz have made a $25 million gift commitment to invest in strategic priorities and leadership at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and redevelop a historic building at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) in Curtis, Nebraska, to support student growth and success.
The Weitzes have pledged $19 million to UNO and $6 million to NCTA through the University of Nebraska Foundation.
At NCTA, the couple’s gift will support a $12 million project to create the Student Success and Activity Center on campus. The Weitzes’ challenge gift will be matched by $6 million in other private funding, with work to begin after fundraising is complete.
“It took visionaries to create this rural arm of the University of Nebraska over a century ago, and now the Weitzes are the visionaries who are helping to lead us into the future,” said NCTA Dean Larry Gossen, Ph.D. “We are truly overjoyed to receive a gift of this magnitude to allow our campus to evolve with a new Student Success and Activity Center. It will be an awe-inspiring gathering place to be proud of — for students to study together, have social events, and, most importantly, an accessible dining hall. It will draw in students living off-campus and generate the energy and excitement our students need to feel a sense of belonging.”
The gift to renovate and expand “The Barn,” originally built in 1917, will be the single largest monetary donation ever received by NCTA.
“This campus in Curtis charmed me after my first visit to attend graduation. It is a seemingly small but remarkably important part of our commitment to bring resources, faculty and students to improving our agricultural knowledge and workforce in Nebraska,” Barbara Weitz said. “NCTA is a too well-kept secret south of North Platte.”
The gift was inspired by a desire to promote workforce development in the agriculture sector and improve educational opportunities in rural Nebraska.
“At NCTA, we are teaching agriculture ‘in the field’ at the collegiate level, with the latest technology and practices in our academic programs,” Dean Gossen said. “These include agronomy, animal science, ag education, equine industry management, ag mechanics, irrigation technology, agribusiness and veterinary technology. Improvements to campus facilities are included in NCTA’s master plan and are central to our enrollment goals to grow from under 300 to 500 students in the next 10 years.”