The Universities of Nebraska at Kearney and Lincoln have received over $12.5 million in a donation from the estate of longtime Kearney resident and philanthropist Carol Cope.
UNK is to receive $11.6 million from the fund, which is the largest single gift in UNK's history, according to UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen.
The gift establishes multiple permanently endowed funds that will generate annual support for student scholarships, faculty awards, academic programs and more. Of the total gift, $11.6 million benefits UNK, and $1 million is directed to UNL for endowed faculty professorships.
"This gift will forever change this institution," shared Kristensen.
He added, "This gift is a blend of generosity and vision that will significantly impact students for decades to come."
Brian Hastings, president and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation, said, "This most generous gift represents the lasting legacy of Ron and Carol Cope at the University of Nebraska. The magnitude of its effect will be felt by generations of students and educators. Even years from now, students will continue to be known as proud Cope scholars."
Carol Cope's legacy will be celebrated Sept. 5 at UNK's Carol Cope Day, the Lopers' football season opener against visiting Washburn University. The game starts at 6 p.m. at Ron and Carol Cope Stadium. The gift will be recognized during halftime of the game.
The Kearney community will also celebrate the legacy of the Copes on Sept. 13-14. The "Walk in the Copes' Shoes" event coincides with Carol Cope's birthday by offering an opportunity for community-wide giving and service in celebration and memory of the Copes' generosity.
The following is a breakdown of how the Cope estate directed the gift to support the university:
Ron and Carol Cope UNK Excellence Fund — A $4.6 million endowed fund to enable UNK to direct support to high-priority projects across campus.
Cope Stadium — A $3 million gift to complete an earlier commitment made by the Copes to support UNK's athletic expansion and recreation project.
Ron and Carol Cope UNK Scholarship — A $1.8 million endowed fund to provide about 20 annual scholarship awards of about $4,000 each, with half of the awards made to UNK College of Business and Technology students and half awarded to students studying in other colleges on campus.
Ron and Carol Cope UNK Athletics Scholarship — A $1 million endowed fund to provide between 30 and 40 scholarships each year to UNK student athletes.
Ron and Carol Cope Professorship in the UNK College of Business and Technology — A $500,000 endowed fund to provide annual stipends to outstanding faculty.
Ron and Carol Cope UNK Professorship — A $500,000 endowed fund to provide annual stipends to outstanding faculty members in any UNK college.
Ron and Carol Cope UNL College of Business Administration Professorship — A $500,000 endowed fund to provide annual stipends to outstanding UNL business faculty members.
Ron and Carol Cope UNL School of Music Professorship — A $500,000 endowed fund to provide annual stipends to outstanding UNL music faculty members.
Ron and Carol Cope Fund for the Frank House — A $262,500 endowed fund to provide annual program and maintenance support for the Frank House museum at UNK.