The University of Nebraska keeps its donor records largely private, but it’s fair to assume that Walter Scott Jr.’s foundation is among its biggest supporters.
From 2005 through 2014, federal tax records show, the Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation gave at least $110 million to the university or the University of Nebraska Foundation.
The number includes philanthropic support for NU scholarships, including its Scott Scholars program for engineering students studying at Peter Kiewit Institute of Information Science, Technology and Engineering.
The Scott foundation was named as a lead donor on the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The research tower will be named for Scott and his late wife. Though the donation amount wasn’t disclosed, the Scott foundation reported on its tax return that it contributed a total of $24.9 million to the NU Foundation in 2013.
The same year, the Scott foundation contributed $5 million to Donors Trust in support of Baxter Arena at UNO.
The $110 million also includes facilities given to the university on UNO’s Pacific Campus, such as the Scott Technology Center, the Scott Data Center and a power plant.
It’s not a stretch to say Scott founded the Pacific Campus. He was the driving force in establishing the Peter Kiewit Institute and construction of the first residence hall. Scott’s fundraising and political push overcame misgivings from the Board of Regents about adding engineering instruction and dormitories at the traditional commuter campus.
“Without the public-private partnership with the Scott Foundation, housing and dining most likely wouldn’t have happened on UNO’s Pacific campus,” UNO spokesman Charley Reed said in a written statement. “The Foundation brought resources; development and management expertise; and political capital to the public-private partnership with UNO.”
Following that first project, UNO worked exclusively with the Scott foundation on the Pacific Campus over the ensuing 15 years. On some level, Scott has financed most of the campus expansion.
The entire Pacific Campus is owned by the NU Board of Regents. But the foundation or its affiliates operate every non-academic building on the Pacific Campus, including dorms, a cafeteria, a conference center, the technology center and the data center.
In 2014, the foundation reported net assets of $236.4 million. That year, Scott was awarded the Regents Medal, NU’s highest award.
“It would be impossible to measure the impact that Walter’s generosity has had on students, faculty and people in Omaha and across Nebraska,” then-president J.B. Milliken said in a statement at the time. “His tireless service, philanthropic spirit and leadership are an inspiration.”
* * *