All In: The Networks That Move the University

OWNING IT

Owning ItHeart by itself can’t keep the lights on. Drive and spirit won’t pay professors or heat buildings. It takes ownership to do those things.

You pay your electric bill because it’s your home. You pay the gas bill to keep your family warm. And you make a contribution to the university when you truly believe it’s your NWU.

“The question of who owns a large state university is easy,” said Tim Thietje, Nebraska Wesleyan’s associate vice president of advancement. “It’s the taxpayers.” Taxpayers pay all those costs at public institutions that tuition, fees (and football ticket sales) don’t cover.

“But,” Thietje continued, “with an independent school like Nebraska Wesleyan, the question isn’t quite so straightforward. Who owns NWU?”

It’s a question that alumni like Joy Carol (’59) need not pause to answer. “That ownership is in the faculty and the board of governors, certainly,” Carol said. “It’s also in the students and especially those of us who were students. We’re still owners as alumni—even more so in many ways, because we’re the ones who’ve seen the benefits of our time there.”

Judith (Trimble) Maurer (‘69) viewed her ownership this way. “I remember when my son and I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Because of a lack of funds for security guards, they had closed several exhibit rooms that we’d especially wanted to see.” She said, “I can’t imagine a Nebraska Wesleyan University forced to make choices about which buildings to keep open. Part of the reason my husband Keith (’69) and I are involved is because we don’t want any Nebraska Wesleyan student to ever be told, ‘I’m sorry. You can’t study that here anymore.’”

Carol and the Maurers are three players on a team of diverse people, functioning independently, yet working together to move this university forward. They’ve seized opportunities to be leaders on that team. You can read more about the Maurers’ service to the Archway Fund on page 9. And heading into her 50th class reunion, the university asked Carol whether she and her 1959 classmates could raise $59,000 in 59 days as their class gift. Carol’s answer: “Of course we can.”

Carol and others wrote letters and made phone calls. Her classmates responded like teammates. Even after they’d reached their goal of $59,000, Carol sent out one more letter thanking everyone for their efforts and asking again for them to dig a little deeper to support “our Nebraska Wesleyan.”

In came another $7,000.

“That ‘our’ is really important,” said Carol. “There’s ownership there. And loyalty. I don’t feel that loyalty with the other institutions I attended. I live in New York City,” she said. “I graduated 50 years ago. But I still feel loyalty over that time and distance because I have relationships. I have connections stretching over those years and miles. This is our university. It’s a part of my extended family.”