Film: OU-NU Merger Ceremony
The merger ceremony announcing the University of Nebraska at Omaha occurred on July 1, 1968, on the steps of the Arts & Sciences Hall and included the "official" transfer of the institution to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. Municipal University of Omaha speakers included Randall Owens, President of the Student Senate; Kirk Naylor, President of the University of Omaha; and Robert Spire, Chair of the Board of Regents. Merger festivities also included social occasions for university officials, including a lawn party on the grounds north of ASH and a luncheon in the student union building. Classes were dismissed for the event.
The Nebraska Educational Television Network filmed the merger ceremony that took place in front of the Arts & Sciences Hall, which at midnight on July 2, 1968, became the UNO campus. Bob Van Neste provided commentary on the process and speakers to those who watched the ceremony. Robert Spire, President of the Board of Regents of the Municipal University of Omaha, introduced each of the speakers.
Governor Norbert Tiemann provided the first remarks following an invocation. Tiemann noted: "Today is a beginning. Not only of a great university, but of a frowth industry for the city of Omaha, the state of Nebraska, but more important, here is tangible evidence of a spirit of unity that binds our entire state . . ." He focused on academic excellence in the state. (View streaming video of Norbert Tiemann.)
Representing university students, Randall Owens, President of the University of Nebraska at Omaha Student Senate, discussed change: "It was a democratic decision and a significant part of the change occurring today was due to student concern and participate, and rightfully so it should be. This is an institution of higher learning, this is a classroom for the student . . ." (View streaming video of Randy Owens.)
John D. Blackwell, head of the Art Department and President of the University Senate, noted in his speech that "if the spirit of cooperation, the evidence of outstanding leadership which has characterized the initial efforts, are continued in the years ahead, the University of Nebraska, and all its complexities, will rank among the top in American institutions of higher education." (View streaming video of John Blackwell.)
Alumni Association President Nick Capparelli saw the merger as an opportunity to broaden the horizons and facilities of the university. (View streaming video of Nick Capparelli.)
President of the University of Nebraska at Omaha Kirk E. Naylor spoke of the many "memorable occasions" associated with the University in Omaha. He stated, "The state of Nebraska can justifiably be proud of the education institution which it supports, and today represents a leap forward in education endeavors. Already possessing in a great university complex, a great land grant institution, and rapidly expanding medical center, today the state is witnessing the birth of an urban grant university, one that is dedicated to complementing the area it serves." (View streaming video of Kirk Naylor.)
Ben Greenberg, University of Nebraska Board of Regents, received and accepted the symbolic transfer of documents to the University of Nebraska at the outdoor ceremony. At a meeting of university boards and administrators later in the day, the formal transfer and receipt of documents took place. (View streaming video of Ben Greenberg.)
The final speaker of the ceremony, University of Nebraska Chancellor Clifford Hardin--chief administrative officer of the entire system of the University, rather than only the position of Chancellor at UNL--spoke of an opportunity "of providing the best possible learning environment for the young people of this state and utilizing the resources of the great institution for the benefit of all our citizens." (View streaming video of Clifford Hardin.)
After the speakers had finished, the banner was lowered, revealing the University of Nebraska at Omaha lettering upon Arts and Sciences Hall. (View streaming video of unveiling.)