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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Nebraska Notables

Programs & Resources

PART OF THE INTERNET BACKBONE. UNL was one of the first colleges and universities connected to the very high performance Backbone Network Service (vbns) in the spring of 1998. The connection allows scientists and engineers across the country to collaborate and share powerful computing and information resources.

NEBRASKA EDUCATIONAL TELEVISION. One of the nation's most highly respected educational television stations is at UNL. KUON-TV began broadcasting in 1954 as the seventh educational television station in the United States. KUON-TV is the hub of the Nebraska Educational Television Network, providing instructional and cultural programming throughout the state. Backyard Farmer, a weekly program on NETV running annually in the spring and summer months, is the longest-running educational television program in the nation. A panel of UNL Cooperative Extension specialists answer viewers' gardening questions and provide a host of gardening and landscaping tips and information.

CAMPUS BEAUTY, NATURALLY. UNL takes pride in the natural beauty of its campus, but it's not all nature's doing. UNL's Botanical Gardens and Arboretum/Landscape Services Department has received numerous awards for its efforts in maintaining and enhancing the campus landscape. The various research gardens and landscaped areas on the City and East Campuses, as well as the East Campus' Maxwell Arboretum, are part of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum. The Maxwell Arboretum, originally developed as a test area for plant hardiness, had been affiliated with the Statewide Arboretum before 1989, when the other gardens and landscaped areas were added. The gardens are part of an ongoing effort to provide a structured approach to improving and maintaining landscape and plant collections on the UNL campus. Also affiliated with the statewide system are gardens at the Extension Research Centers in North Platte, Scottsbluff, and Concord, and the School of Technical Agriculture at Curtis.

INSPIRE ANOTHER NEWTON? An offspring of the very tree, which presumably played an important role in inspiring Isaac Newton's theory of gravity, is growing just south of Behlen Laboratory. A graft from the original tree was made around 1800 and from that a cutting was made and sent to UNL. It was planted in a ceremony on April 4, 1991. A contemporary of Newton said that Newton's "notion of gravitation came into his mind. Occasioned by the fall of an apple as he sat in a contemplative mood." The incident apparently occurred in Lincolnshire, England, about 1665.

TREE PLANTER STATE. Every year, the Nebraska Forest Service helps Nebraskans plant more than a million seedling trees to fight erosion, protect livestock, and develop wildlife habitat. The service also helps rural landowners with timber harvesting, soil and water conservation projects, and trains volunteer firefighters. In 1999 alone, the forest service trained nearly 5,000 Nebraska volunteer firefighters to battle wild fires. Thanks to forest service efforts, more than 100 Nebraska communities were expected to be named Tree City USA communities for 1999, ranking the Cornhusker State among the top 10 U.S. states in the program. The service is part of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

BEAUTIFYING LANDSCAPES. Nebraskans share their enthusiasm for tree planting and landscaping through the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, a statewide network of 51 affiliate sites including arboreta, historic landscapes, parks and other public gardens. Since 1986, volunteers in 162 Nebraska communities have supported 431 tree and landscape projects with the help of more than $7 million in funds and technical assistance from two programs managed by the NSA and the Nebraska Forest Service. More than 25,000 trees and shrubs and thousands of acres of perennial flowers and grasses have been planted as a result of the Nebraska Green Space Stewardship Initiative and the Nebraska Community Enhancement Program. The NSA is a non-profit membership organization headquartered at UNL's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

CARILLON TOWER. Built in 1948, the gift of alumnus Ralph S. Mueller, the Carillon Tower has become one of the symbols of the UNL campus.


THE SHELDON MEMORIAL ART GALLERY houses one the nation's top collections of 20th century American art. It is also home to one of the largest and rarest private art book collections in the world. The gallery sponsors regular touring exhibitions of its holdings around the state, and also sponsors exhibits of its works in major art venues both nationally and internationally. The gallery is renowned for its sculpture garden, which features 35 monumental works by such artists as Michael Heizer, Richard Serra, Gaston Lachaise, Judith Shea, Bryan Hunt, Mark di Suvero, Fletcher Benton and Claes Oldenburg, who installed his "Tor n Notebook" in 1996 at 12th and Q streets.

RARE ART BOOK COLLECTION. Dr. Stuart Embry of Holdrege donated a collection of 37 Renoir prints and 9,000 art books assembled over a 25-year period to the University of Nebraska. The collection, recognized as one of the largest and rarest private art book collections in the world, is to be donated over a five-year period. It will be housed in the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery. The collection contains materials primarily dating from 1810-1940.

THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA STATE MUSEUM, located in Morrill Hall, is the university's natural science museum. It includes the world-famous Elephant Hall and its mammoth display featuring one of the world's largest mammoth skeletons nicknamed "Archie." A life-sized bronze sculpture of Archie is featured at the entrance to Morrill Hall, which also includes the Ralph Mueller Planetarium, the Encounter Center, NASA Regional Teacher Resource Center, and exhibits on Ancient Life, Fossil Mammals, The Age of Dinosaurs, Nomads of the Plains, African Heritages, Wildlife of Nebraska, and the Lentz Center for Asian Culture. The museum also features the MESOZOIC GALLERY, where visitors can step back 100 million years as they tour an inland sea complete with the fossil skeletons of giant reptiles and other creatures. The gallery took three years to develop, and features a computerized multimedia exhibit and other interactive displays that invite visitors to become active participants.

Other museum locations in the state include the University of Nebraska State Museum at Trailside, near Crawford; and the ASHFALL FOSSIL BEDS STATE HISTORICAL PARK near Orchard. A joint venture between the University of Nebraska State Museum and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the fossil bed at Ashfall is particularly unique because of the perfect condition of the skeletal remains. The animals were killed and quickly buried by a heavy layer of ash from a volcano that erupted in what is now the western United States. As a result, fossils are found in natural poses, with infant animals lying close to their mothers. Covered quickly by ash, the bones were not disturbed by scavengers.

CZECH HERITAGE. UNL's Czech Heritage Collection documents the experiences of Czech immigrants and their children in Nebraska. The collection also includes the paper of significant members of the Czech exile community in the United States and Europe after World War II.

BEETLE MANIA. Much of the Smithsonian Institution's collection of beetles classified as Scarabaeidae was entrusted to UNL in April 1999 for at least a decade, or for however long it takes to complete "off-site enhancement " of the collection. Brett Ratcliffe, professor and curator of entomology for the University of Nebraska State Museum, said off-site enhancement will include the identification, sorting and storage of some quarter of a million Scarab specimens. Although UNL already possesses a magnificent beetle collection, Ratcliffe said the addition of the Smithsonian beetles will make the collection at UNL one of the best in the Western Hemisphere. The collection was delivered to UNL after Ratcliffe and Mary Liz Jameson, visiting assistant professor of entomology, were successful in securing a $740,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study New World Scarab beetles.

THE ROBERT HILLESTAD TEXTILES GALLERY, dedicated in fall 1997, recognizes textiles as art and encourages understanding of history and diverse cultures through exhibition of textile arts. The 640-square-foot gallery on the second floor of the Human Resources and Family Sciences Building on UNL's East Campus honors an award-winning, internationally renowned designer and fiber artist who was a professor of textiles, clothing and design at the university for more than 30 years.

THE INTERNATIONAL QUILT STUDY CENTER is believed to be the largest and most extensive collection of quilts in the world. The center began in 1997 with the donation to UNL by Ardis and Robert James of 950 antique and contemporary quilts comprising American, European and Japanese quilts dating from the 1700s to 1992. Patricia Crews, professor of textiles, clothing and design in the College of Human Resources and Family Sciences, is the center's first director.

A DOLL'S DREAM HOUSE. The interior design program in the College of Architecture is the new home for the historic collection of miniatures owned by Eloise Andrews Kruger of Lincoln, who attended UNL from 1931 to 1934. The collection, which contains some pieces that are replicas of furniture housed in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, provides an educational resource for students of interior design to study historic furnishings and interior architecture.

THE UNL LIBRARIES serve as an important resource for academic, research, and outreach programs and provide all Nebraskans with the basis for intellectual growth and development. University Libraries hold more than 2.5 million volumes. Among them is one of a few existing Shakespeare folios published in 1623. University Libraries routinely apply technology to library services. IRIS, a computerized card catalog of holdings in the university's library system, means that almost anyone anywhere has access to materials via computers.

ARCHIVES. UNL's Love Library houses the university's Archives, with its three major parts - special manuscript collections, UNL archives (materials pertaining to UNL faculty, students, administration) and rare books. Examples of special manuscript collections are the collections devoted to research materials by members of the faculty nationally known in natural history, such as Charles Bessey in botany and Lawrence Bruner in entomology. Among rare books are an 18th century 10-volume work on the natural history of birds with hand-colored plates by George Buffon, Audubon's quadrupeds of North America (1854 edition), editions of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales from 1542 and 1602, and the Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493 with its woodcuts illustrating the history of the world.

TRUE WAR STORIES. Papers of servicemen who served in the 42nd "Rainbow Division" of both World Wars repose in the Archives of UNL. The 42nd, which served overseas in both wars, was one of the first Allied units to liberate the German concentration camp at Dachau.

NAVAL MEMORABILIA. The university's Military and Naval Science Building houses a library of naval memorabilia in honor of Vice Admiral Forest S. Petersen, who attended the university for two years in the early 1940s . Petersen commanded the navy's first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Enterprise, from 1969 to 1971.


THE E.N. THOMPSON FORUM ON WORLD ISSUES welcomes international leaders to campus each year to discuss issues ranging from arms control to human rights. Recent speakers have included international human rights activists Desmond Tutu and Elie Wiesel.

CEDAR POINT BIOLOGICAL STATION is a protected natural area and field station supporting research and teaching, affiliated with the UNL School of Biological Sciences. Since 1975 Cedar Point has been the site of a thriving teaching program as well an outstanding research environment. Located in western Nebraska, Cedar Point occupies about 40 acres in the scenic bluffs overlooking the North Platte River and Nebraska's largest lake, Lake McConaughy. Housing for students and researchers includes rustic cabins and Goodall Lodge, which features a dining hall, library, lounge, classrooms, and teaching labs. Eight upper-level college courses and graduate courses in field biology are taught at CPBS each summer. The director of Cedar Point, John Janovy, is a distinguished professor of biological sciences and one of America's foremost nature writers.

ARAPAHO PRAIRIE is a 1,280-acre tract of upland hills managed by The UNL School of Biological Sciences for the Nature Conservancy, which owns the unplowed prairie of mixed and short grasses. Arapaho Prairie, located 35 miles north of Cedar Point, is used for teaching and research by students and faculty as well as by visitors from throughout the world.

NEBRASKA'S BIRDING HOT SPOT includes the area around Cedar Point. According to Paul Johnsgard, UNL Foundation Professor of Biological Sciences and the renowned author of 40 books on birds and ecology, some 310 bird species have been identified in the central Platte River Valley, including 104 breeding species, 17 probable breeding species and 184 transient, casual and accidental species. The region has the third-largest list for any locality in the entire United States.

BARKLEY CENTER. The William E. Barkley Center on UNL's East Campus celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1996. The center prepares teachers of the deaf and provides programs for children and adults with speech-language and hearing disorders.

PARK AND STARGAZE. UNL may have the only observatory ever built atop a parking garage. The new high-powered telescope atop UNL's new Stadium Drive Parking Garage is the largest of its kind in Lincoln. It can be pointed automatically and has a state-of-the art, self-guiding camera to record images of the most distant objects in the universe, a feat that only a generation ago could not have been detected with the giant telescope on Mount Palomar.

SOFTWARE DESIGN STUDIO. A multimedia software design studio aimed at meeting the demand for good software designers has been established at UNL as the result of a matching grant from the National Science Foundation. The center is part of the UNL Center for Communications and Information Science and represents an expansion of the center into the area of multimedia software design and usability issues.

BIG HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. The University of Nebraska Press celebrates its 61st anniversary in 2000. The press, once called the "Big House on the Prairie" by the Wall Street Journal, has 2,500 books in print and publishes 100 new books annually. The second-largest state university press in the country, it is also one of the leading translators of French literature in the U.S. and has an extensive translation program that focuses primarily on European authors (French, German, and Spanish) as well as Latin American writers. The program of publishing international fiction and literary nonfiction at the Press has garnered much notice in recent years. Among kudos was one from the Los Angeles Times that named the Press one of only three publishing companies in America "to reliably, season after season, produce significant translations."

CATHER SCHOLARSHIP. The University of Nebraska Press is publisher of the scholarly editions of the works of Willa Cather, including such classics as My Antonia and O Pioneers! The books are produced under the direction of Sue Rosowski, UNL's Adele Hall Distinguished Professor of English, and a team of scholars from 11 universities.

ROYAL DESIGNER. Richard Eckersly, senior graphic designer for the Nebraska Press, was awarded the distinction of being named to the exclusive Royal Designers for Industry, appointed by royal decree to natives of Great Britain. Eckersly, a native of London, is the son of the former head of Graphic Design at the London College of Printing and with the younger Eckersly's appointment they became the first father-son duo to hold the RDI distinction.

THE PRAIRIE SCHOONER. Marking its 75th anniversary in 2001, UNL's Prairie Schooner is one of the oldest literary magazines in the nation, and has been called one of "19 Magazines that Matter" by Writer's Digest. Its companions on the list included such well-known publications as the Atlantic Monthly, the New Yorker and Harper's. Many of the country's best known writers and poets have graced its pages, as have such Nebraska luminaries as Loren Eiseley, Mari Sandoz and Jim Thompson.

FOOD PROCESSING CENTER. Turning Nebraska's meat, poultry and grains into value-added processed foods helps the state's economy. The University of Nebraska's Food Processing Center offers a wide range of technical and business development assistance to entrepreneurs and established food processing firms in Nebraska, the nation and the world. Nebraska's food processing industry has grown from 220 food processing businesses when the center opened in 1983 to more than 400 today.

READ ALL ABOUT IT. In 1999, the Food Processing Center published a handy brochure titled "Nebraska Products Shoppers Guide," a catalog of the many quality food products manufactured in Nebraska. The catalog can be obtained by writing or calling the Nebraska Food Industry Association, % of the University of Nebraska Food Processing Center, 143 H.C. Filley Hall, Lincoln, Neb., 68583-0928. Telephone (402) 472-5791.

THE INDUSTRIAL AG PRODUCTS CENTER works to identify and promote development of new industrial uses for Nebraska's agricultural commodities. The center works with private industry and entrepreneurs to develop new products and technologies that use agriculturally based raw materials and protect the environment. The aim is to develop industrial products made from renewable agricultural commodities and processing techniques that enhance industry's ability to complete in the global marketplace.

FOOD INDUSTRY BUILDING. A $10.5 million, 60,000 square-foot facility houses the Department of Food Science and Technology, an enlarged dairy store, pilot plants, laboratories and marketing offices of the Food Processing Center. Completed in 1990.

TRACTOR TESTING LABORATORY. About 1,800 tractor models have been put through their paces at UNL's Tractor Testing Laboratory since the laboratory opened in 1920. The East Campus facility is the world's oldest tractor test laboratory in the world and has earned worldwide recognition as a premiere testing facility . Popular Science magazine once dubbed this lab "the Supreme Court of Tractors." The laboratory works directly with at least 20 countries each year interested in tractor and engine performance.

RURAL COMMUNITY REVITALIZATION. The Center for Applied Rural Innovation provides programs, research, workshops, information and services to assist rural communities and people. The center collaborates with federal, state and local governments, the private sector and other partners on research and information focusing on rural opportunities and challenges. The center's annual Nebraska Rural Poll, one of the nation's largest surveys of rural residents, provides information about rural views, issues and trends. Policymakers, lawmakers and rural communities tap this information to aid planning and decision-making.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE. The Center for Applied Rural Innovation's research programs promote efficient, profitable, environmentally and socially sustainable agriculture. It addresses complex challenges such the decline of rural communities, state and federal legislation restricting chemical use and consumer concern about food safety, nutrition and the environment.

TRACKING DROUGHT. A new drought tracking system that University of Nebraska researchers helped develop is improving drought monitoring nationwide. Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists at the NATIONAL DROUGHT MITIGATION CENTER at UNL, teamed with scientists at two federal agencies to develop the Drought Monitor, an easy to understand, web-based tool for tracking widespread drought. The monitor combines information from several drought and water indices in a single map showing where drought is emerging, lingering and subsiding. It highlights emerging trouble spots so state and federal agencies can work to reduce drought's impacts. The Drought Monitor was launched in August 1999. It's the result of efforts to better monitor and characterize its severity to improve drought planning and coordination. The INTERNATIONAL DROUGHT INFORMATION CENTER works to improve understanding and awareness of problems associated with drought management and planning to improve the drought-coping capacity of all nations. The center conducts seminars and workshops to train scientists and policymakers worldwide in the science of drought management and preparedness.

REGIONAL CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE. The University of Nebraska is home to this regional center that focuses on how global climate change could affect the Great Plains, especially its agriculture and vast grasslands. The center is one of six regional centers nationwide affiliated with the National Institute for Global Environmental Change and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The center's research interests include: trace gas dynamics, detection and attribution of carbon dioxide-induced climate change and physical, biological and socioeconomic consequences of climate change.

BEGINNING FARMERS. Nebraska's farmers are getting older and fewer young people are taking their places. Nearly 25 percent of the state's farmers and ranchers are over age 65 while only 11 percent are under 35. UNL Cooperative Extension's new Beginning Farmer Program, launched in late 1999, is tackling this age dilemma. The program helps younger farmers get a solid start and assist older farmers to successfully transition out of farming. Assuring that family farms and ranches remain an important part of Nebraska's economy, culture and communities is the program's ultimate goal.

SPECIES GAP. Nebraska' participates in a nationwide research program to obtain data on critical habitat. Nebraska's research for the Gap Analysis Program(GAP) is part of a national project to determine how well native plant and animal species are represented in conservation lands. It has allowed researchers to study spatial arrangements of ecosystems and learn more about the habitats of a variety of species. The project has produced the first detailed land-cover map for the state. GAP is now being implemented across the United States with help from more than 140 cooperating organizations.

VETERINARY EDUCATION CENTER. Located at Clay Center, this facility helps veterinary students and veterinarians keep pace with their rapidly changing profession. The center's faculty are involved in research and extension efforts. The center resulted from a 1986 cooperative agreement for veterinary medical education between Kansas and Nebraska. Under this agreement, Nebraskans make up about 25 percent of enrollees at Kansas State's College of Veterinary Medicine, with about 100 Nebraskans enrolled in each four-year cycle. Senior students spend at least one week participating in educational programs at GPVEC. The center also offers continuing education for veterinarians.

THE CENTER FOR GREAT PLAINS STUDIES was established at UNL in the mid 1970s to provide a focal point of learning about the culture, heritage and development of the Great Plains region. The center grew from the idea that UNL was a university that already contained a broad range of expertise to be drawn upon for an intensive study of life on the plains in all its aspects, including urban and rural geography, native and imported peoples, indigenous and foreign arts, politics, economics, languages, religion and customs. Since it was created, numerous interdisciplinary studies have been conducted, an annual seminar has drawn international participation and attention, and two scholarly publications have been created. The nation's oldest and largest academic center focusing on regional studies.

CENTER FOR GRASSLAND STUDIES aims to enhance the efficiency, profitability, sustainability and aesthetic value of grasslands, wetlands and turf. The center administers the university's grazing livestock systems major, launched in 1999, and provides technical assistance to clients who include cattle producers, consultants, turfgrass and lawn managers, grass seed and sod producers, wildlife managers, conservation biologists, researchers, educators, students and homeowners.

GALLUP RESEARCH CENTER. UNL and the Gallup Organization joined forces in 1994 to create the Gallup Research Center at UNL. The center will concentrate on the areas of survey research and quantitative methods, and will promote study of how public opinion is gathered and employed in social research. Researchers will have access to all data from every Gallup poll ever conducted. The center attracts top scholars from many fields, including marketing, political science, sociology, educational measurement, statistics and journalism.

TESTING OUR TESTS. The Buros Institute of Mental Measurements is an internationally respected organization providing support to programs that enhance the quality of educational and psychological measurement. The center provides an increased range of services for test users, and examines critically important assessment topics.