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Holland Foundation makes $4.5 million investment in UNMC, UNO

University of Nebraska Medical Center

Gifts will create UNMC presidential chair in public health, support UNO student scholarships

The Holland Foundation has demonstrated its commitment to public higher education in Omaha through a $4.5 million investment in the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

At UNMC, a $2 million gift will establish the Richard D. Holland Presidential Chair in Public Health. At UNO, the Holland Foundation is adding $2.5 million to a fund it initially created in 2023 to provide scholarships to UNO students studying arts and communication.

The Holland Foundation’s gifts were made through the University of Nebraska Foundation as part of Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future. The campaign is an historic effort to encourage at least 150,000 benefactors to give $3 billion to support University of Nebraska students, faculty, academic and clinical programs and research to address the needs of the state.

“We are thrilled to make an investment in two important priorities that were near and dear to Dick Holland,” said Deb Love, president of the Holland Foundation. “Scholarships remove financial barriers that deter students from pursuing higher education. Public health improves health outcomes for underserved communities in Nebraska and around the world.”

Richard Holland Endowed Scholarship Fund, UNO

The Holland Foundation’s addition of $2.5 million to the Richard Holland Endowed Scholarship Fund brings this fund to $3 million.

The permanently endowed fund is the largest scholarship fund to benefit UNO’s College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media (CFAM), and will provide an estimated 12 scholarships annually, reducing students’ financial burden and making higher education more accessible.

The fund was created to honor the legacy of Richard Holland, an alumnus who studied art at the University of Omaha (now UNO).

“We express our deep gratitude for receiving this generous gift. The scholarships offered through this fund will have a profound and life-changing impact on the students within the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media,” said UNO Chancellor Joanne Li, PhD, CFA.

The Holland Foundation was established by the late Richard “Dick” and Mary Holland. The Hollands were deeply involved in numerous philanthropic efforts benefiting children, education, the arts and the environment. The couple was among the principal supporters of several organizations that serve disadvantaged children in the Omaha area, including Partnership 4 Kids (P4K) and NorthStar.

Preference for the UNO scholarships will be given to students who have participated in NorthStar, P4K or other similar programs, first-generation students and those with financial need. About 40% of UNO’s undergraduates are first-generation students whose parents did not graduate from a four-year university. Holland himself was a first-generation student as were his three siblings.

“We are very grateful for this incredibly generous gift,” said Michael Hilt, PhD, dean of the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media. “The scholarships funded through this donation will have an immediate impact on current and future CFAM students and in our community for many years to come.”

The Hollands’ other contributions to UNO included the leadership gift for Baxter Arena, where the Holland Ice is named in his honor, the expansion of the Durham Science Center and support for a supercomputer in the Holland Computing Center. The Hollands also made the lead gift to the state-of-the-art performing arts center in downtown Omaha that bears their name.

Richard D. Holland Presidential Chair in Public Health, UNMC

The Holland Foundation’s $2 million gift to UNMC will create the Richard D. Holland Presidential Chair in Public Health.

“Richard Holland’s support of UNMC and the UNMC College of Public Health has been and continues to be transformational,” said Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, chancellor of UNMC. “It was an honor to know and work with Dick and his foundation leadership. This latest gift continues his legacy of thinking big to improve the health of his fellow Nebraskans. Endowed chairs and professorships enhance the UNMC academic enterprise and are essential to recruiting and retaining high-quality faculty, and this new chair in public health will provide critical support to UNMC’s efforts to address health concerns in Nebraska and beyond.”

The College of Public Health was formed in 2006, and Holland was among the principal benefactors to the Harold M. and Beverly Maurer Center for Public Health, which opened in 2011 to house the College of Public Health. The UNMC College of Public Health is the only accredited college of public health in Nebraska, and its enrollment has nearly doubled over the past five years with students from 43 states and 35 countries.

Pending final approval, the inaugural recipient of the presidential chair will be Ali S. Khan, MD, MPH, MBA, the current dean of the UNMC College of Public Health.

Khan came to UNMC in 2014 after spending 23 years with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before retiring as the assistant surgeon general and director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. Khan’s professional career has focused on emerging infectious diseases, bioterrorism and global health security.

“Dick Holland generously served as my mentor when I arrived a decade ago as a new dean of the new College of Public Health in Nebraska,” Khan said. “I quickly learned he was a social justice champion with a keen sense for the inequity in our society who wielded an amalgam of philanthropy, purpose and intellect to lead transformative community actions. He will always be a source of inspiration for my work in this great state for healthier lives, everywhere, for every one of us.”

The College of Public Health’s mission is to collaboratively and relentlessly seek new and creative solutions to the most challenging problems in public health while working to prevent them from happening in the first place. The presidential chair, which is among the university’s most prestigious faculty awards, may be used to provide an annual stipend to support scholarly research and academic activities.

Current initiatives include efforts to reduce maternal and infant mortality in Nebraska and address racial inequities; expand environmental protections such as in the case of heat stroke or pollution exposure for underserved populations, children and the elderly; and create a health informatics program to use data to improve human health.

The Holland Foundation previously established the Richard D. Holland Presidential Chair in Early Childhood Development, held by Walter S. Gilliam, executive director of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute; and the Richard and Mary Holland Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Sciences at UNMC, held by John R. Windle, MD.

The Hollands also have supported the Center for Heart and Vascular Research, Michael F. Sorrell Center for Health Science Education, Munroe-Meyer Institute and Mary and Dick Holland Regenerative Medicine Program.