Pending Nebraska Board of Regents approval at the November meeting, the $10.5 million project will allow the Hewit Center academic areas to nearly triple in size after expanding into the now-vacated weight room, which moved to the Osborne Athletic Complex in 2006. The majority of the funds raised will be earmarked for the Student Life Complex expansion, while the remainder of the funds raised will be used to create and enhance NU athletic historical displays, including video and interactive visual alternatives. Additional displays will be added in many of Nebraska's facilities to display a portion of the Husker memorabilia items that athletics has collected over the years, some of which have been in storage for decades.
With the completion of the North Stadium Complex in 2006, which includes the Osborne Athletic Complex, the Hawks Championship Center and the Memorial Stadium expansion, Athletic Director Tom Osborne is anxious to turn his attention to the academic and life skills needs of Nebraska's nearly 600 student-athletes.
"Nebraska is a national leader in support services for student-athletes and this project will enhance our ability to assist our student-athletes as they work toward earning a college degree and academic excellence," Osborne said. I have asked Keith Zimmer, our Associate Athletic Director for Life Skills, to intensify our efforts in the life skills and career services area. This renovated and expanded facility will allow us to serve the total needs of our student-athletes more effectively and help them prepare for life after college athletics. The project will also provide for significant upgrades for our athletic historical displays, particularly those located in areas frequented by our visiting recruits and fans."
The West Stadium Hewit Academic Center was built in 1985 with funds obtained from the football team's participation in the 1983 Kickoff Classic and from a generous contribution from Bill and Betty Ruth Hewit. For more than 20 years, it has served as a great facility and has helped Nebraska produce record numbers in both CoSIDA Academic All-America selections (263) and graduation rates (94 percent). However, with nearly 50 percent more student-athletes competing today than when the Hewit Center was built, the current facility is no longer adequate.
The fund-raising campaign, led by Osborne and Associate Athletic Director for Development Paul Meyers, has to this point focused on major private gifts. Reaching their goal of having pledges for at least half of the amount needed to fund the project before going public, the campaign has expanded. Coach Osborne has reached out to his former players and is now asking for public support to Honor the Past and Invest in the Future. It is Osborne's goal to have this project fully funded before seeking the Board of Regents' approval in November.
All fans interested in contributing to the Student Life Complex fund-raising campaign can go online at Huskers.com, or send a donation check made out to the University of Nebraska Foundation to the Nebraska Athletic Development Office at One Memorial Stadium, P.O. Box 880154, Lincoln, NE 68588-0154.