In addition, the Hawks have been supporters of Nebraska athletics with their hearts, following Husker teams in football, baseball, basketball and volleyball at home and on the road. Howard's support of Nebraska athletics was recognized in 2000 when he was given the Clarence E. Swanson Award, which is given annually to an individual who makes outstanding contributions to the Nebraska athletic department.
The official naming of the facility is pending approval of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.
Howard and Rhonda are very active in the community. During 2005, they served as Honorary chairs for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fund-raiser and Community Alliance's "Breaking the Silence" event. They received the "Spirit of Philanthropy" Award from Methodist Hospital Foundation. They will receive the NCCJ Humanitarian Award later this year and have been chosen to receive the "Leadership Family" award from Heartland Family Service for 2006. Howard is founder of Tenaska, Inc. and has been named to the Omaha Business Hall of Fame.
With Howard as Chairman and Rhonda as President, they administer The Hawks Foundation, a private foundation established in the state of Nebraska. They focus their efforts on education through scholarships for need-based students mostly attending Midwestern universities and colleges; social issues such as homelessness, mental health and substance abuse; Christian ministry in the United States and abroad; and the arts.
Howard currently serves on 16 boards or board committees – including the Nebraska Board of Regents, Creighton University, Joslyn, and Omaha Zoological Society. He is a past member of many boards – including Boys & Girls Club of Omaha, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Methodist Hospital, Omaha Symphony and Opera Omaha. Rhonda is serving as Co-Chair of an Ad Hoc Committee designed to implement the goals of Behavioral Health Reform in the State of Nebraska in accordance with LB 1083.
The Hawks have made a very generous gift to the University of Nebraska Athletic Department for the new Memorial Stadium Expansion project but have asked that the amount remain undisclosed.
"Rhonda and I are excited about having an opportunity to again demonstrate the Hawks family's support for the University of Nebraska, its athletic programs, and its student-athletes," Howard Hawks said. "This allows us to show our appreciation of the entire athletic department, led by Steve Pederson, and the student- athletes' commitment to competitive excellence, sportsmanship, and character in all sports."
"The greatest asset we have in Nebraska are terrific people," Nebraska Athletic Director Steve Pederson said. "I cannot think of two finer people in this state than Howard and Rhonda. They have been generous both financially and in personal support of our teams, coaches and staff. It will be a great honor for our teams to prepare for their next championship in the Hawks Championship Center and an honor for us to have their name on such an important facility."
The Hawks Championship Center not only houses a full indoor football field, but has many other features that benefit Nebraska teams and student-athletes. The entire soccer program will be housed in the building including offices, meeting rooms and a spacious locker room. The building will also house concession stands for Husker fans attending Husker soccer games, outdoor track meets and the Husker Nation Pavilion on football Saturdays.
The Championship Wing has facilities for clinics for all sports and also includes eight hitting cages that can be utilized by Nebraska's baseball and softball teams. In addition, there is an Olympic-sized sand volleyball court that can be used by all student-athletes for conditioning, and two student-athlete locker rooms for use by athletes who are training in the facility.
The fieldhouse portion of the Hawks Championship Center was completed in time for use by Nebraska's soccer and football teams last fall. The entire building is scheduled to be completed and ready for full occupancy by April 1.