Lincoln, Nebraska, Sept. 16, 2019 — The chairman and chief executive officer of Peter Kiewit Sons’, Inc., joined with the chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln today to announce the Omaha corporation’s support of a significant expansion of Nebraska engineering.
The company’s $20 million commitment is the largest single contribution so far to an estimated $85 million engineering facility planned for the northeast corner of 17th and Vine Streets. To be named Kiewit Hall, the building will serve as engineering’s academic hub and house the Lincoln-based construction management programs.
“As stewards of our community and the construction and engineering industry, Kiewit is happy to not only support the College of Engineering’s physical expansion, but also the strategic efforts to grow UNL’s engineering program into one of the best in the country,” said Bruce Grewcock, Kiewit’s chairman and chief executive officer.
Chancellor Ronnie Green said Kiewit’s support is “emblematic of the partnership between Nebraska’s Big Ten College of Engineering and one of North America’s largest construction and engineering companies.” Kiewit and its executives have had a long history of support for Nebraska engineering, which offers programs in both Omaha and Lincoln.
“The powerful combination of Kiewit and UNL will significantly grow the impact of Nebraska Engineering,” Green said. “That is a top priority for the University of Nebraska. We are making great strides under the strong leadership of Dean Pérez, and I am so excited about the trajectory of this program.”
The Big Ten has many of the best engineering programs in the country. UNL’s partnership with Kiewit will boost its presence in that highly competitive field.
Figures released by the University show that, by 2026, Nebraska will need nearly 15,000 new workers in the engineering and computer science fields.
College of Engineering Dean Lance Pérez expects engineering enrollment at UNL to reach about 5,000 students within the decade, a 50 percent increase that would make it UNL’s second-largest college in terms of enrollment.
“The college is extremely grateful to the Kiewit Corporation for this generous gift and continued partnership as we make critical investments to provide Nebraskans with world-class construction, computing and engineering education and research,” Pérez said. “We are truly gratified for the support from the state of Nebraska, the business community, and others.”
The Abel family of Lincoln is a second major contributor to the project. Jim Abel, chairman and CEO of NEBCO, and his wife, Mary, are longtime civic leaders and their family’s support for the university goes back three generations. The family has agreed to donate a parcel of land at 17th and Vine streets to the project. Abel Residence Hall, located adjacent to the site, is named in honor of Abel’s grandfather, George P. Abel Sr. Abel also spearheaded the development of Haymarket Park, where the Husker softball and baseball teams play. Most recently, the Abel Foundation was a lead donor for Hawks Hall, the College of Business building that opened in 2017.
Construction starts in October on the first phase of the expansion project, which was approved by the Nebraska Board of Regents in August 2018. Funded largely by a deferred maintenance package approved by the Legislature and Gov. Pete Ricketts in 2016, the $75 million renovation of the Walter Scott Engineering Center and Nebraska Hall, plus a 91,000-square-foot addition replacing a 1984 facility known as the Link, is to be completed in 2022.
If approved by the Board of Regents in October, Kiewit Hall will be built on the east side of UNL’s existing engineering complex, east of Othmer Hall and across 17th Street. The building site includes the 17th and Vine streets parcel, currently a parking lot.