Tonn Ostergard ’81, CEO and chairman of Crete Carrier Corporation, and his wife, Holly ’80, agreed to chair the capital campaign for the College of Business in 2008. At the time, the fundraising goal of $28 million for additional scholarships and professorships seemed ambitious to Ostergard. Little did he know then, the amount ultimately raised would grow to more than three times the initial goal.
Then Dr. Donde Plowman, who served as dean from 2010 to 2016, arrived at Nebraska ready to Start Something and take the college to the next level after joining the Big Ten in 2011. The campaign goals changed and $84 million needed to be raised through private funding for the largest academic project in the history of the university.
Three friends who wanted to make the landmark building a reality sat down to lunch one day and made a commitment to their community and alma mater. Along with the other members of the 2015 Vision group, the trio identified a broad range of projects needed in Lincoln, such as Pinnacle Bank Arena and Nebraska Innovation Campus.
Mike Dunlap ’86 and ’88, Jim Abel and Ostergard decided to “collectively make the largest gift to the project to show the commitment of the Lincoln business community to the university.”
Ostergard explained, “The relationship between Mike, Jim and me is more evolutionary than spontaneous. We share a common connection as we are all fortunate to be a part of family businesses with deep roots in Lincoln and an affinity with the University of Nebraska,” Ostergard said. “We recognize the importance of the community and the university in helping us perpetuate and grow our companies.”
All three also believe they have a responsibility to support the community and the university.
“The new College of Business building was a project we could support together, which made it that much more fulfilling. We felt it was important to make a significant lead gift to show that support and encourage others to do so as well,” Ostergard said.