Plainview, Nebraska, native Bill Johnson has been selected as senior vice president of development at the University of Nebraska Foundation, where he will lead private fundraising efforts for the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Johnson, who has an extensive background in higher education fundraising leadership, will work in partnership with the chancellor and other university leaders, Husker Athletics, the Nebraska Alumni Association and the foundation’s UNL development team to advance the fundraising goals of the state’s flagship university.

He is currently vice president of university advancement at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in education administration/athletic administration from UNL while playing basketball under Coach Danny Nee. He then worked as an assistant basketball coach and director of basketball operations for the Huskers for four years.

“The University of Nebraska took a kid from the reservation in northeast Nebraska, welcomed him as a student athlete and eventually an employee early in my professional life,” said Johnson, a member of the Santee Sioux Tribe. “To have the opportunity to return home and assist the foundation in leading a successful, impactful campaign is a great honor to uplift a community and state that still mean the world to me.”

Last fall, the University of Nebraska Foundation launched a historic campaign to encourage at least 150,000 benefactors to give $3 billion to support all campuses of the University of Nebraska, which includes UNL, the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.

Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future has three priorities: to create additional scholarships and invest in programs and modern facilities that offer hands-on learning opportunities for students; to support the university’s faculty, clinical and academic programs; and to grow the University of Nebraska as a hub of research and innovation.

“I’ve known Bill for a number of years,” said Brian F. Hastings, president and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation. “He is a respected leader in our profession and has served in leadership roles at multiple universities, including his leadership of two university foundations. Bill’s fundraising experience, leadership and coaching experience, and great appreciation for the state of Nebraska will make a tremendous difference in furthering UNL’s success.”

An interview committee appointed by Chancellor Ronnie Green assisted with the search. Committee members were: Katherine Ankerson, executive vice chancellor; Michael Zeleny, vice chancellor for business and finance; Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; Richard Moberly, dean of the College of Law; and Lance Pérez, dean of the College of Engineering.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome Bill Johnson back to his alma mater,” Green said. “As a former Husker athlete and a graduate of our university, Bill knows firsthand the profound impact that a University of Nebraska education can have on a student’s future. Bill’s deep love for Nebraska will make him an excellent partner as we work together to meet the needs of our students, our university and state.”

Johnson succeeds Joe Selig, who retired from the foundation last year after serving the University of Nebraska in various capacities for 46 years.

“We are excited for Bill, with his three decades of university leadership and fundraising experience, to take on this leadership role and be an extraordinary coach, mentor and partner, advancing our collective efforts on behalf of the University of Nebraska,” said Lori Byrne, executive vice president of advancement and campaign director at the University of Nebraska Foundation.

In his current role at the University of Nevada, Reno, Johnson oversees fundraising, alumni engagement, advancement services, donor relations and other functions. He also serves as executive director of the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation. Last year, Johnson served as interim athletic director while the university conducted a national search to fill the vacancy.

Previously, he served as vice president of university advancement at California State University, East Bay, and in other advancement roles at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, and the University of San Francisco, where he also was an assistant men’s basketball coach. Johnson was an administrative fellow in the Harvard University Native American Program. Earlier in his career, he raised athletic funds for Georgetown University; Columbia University, where he was an assistant men’s basketball coach; and Casper College in Casper, Wyoming, where he was also head men’s basketball coach.

Johnson’s first day at the foundation will be June 5.

About the University of Nebraska Foundation

The University of Nebraska Foundation grows relationships and resources that enable the University of Nebraska to change lives and save lives. During the most recent fiscal year, a record 60,571 donors gave $300.6 million to the foundation to aid UNK, UNO, UNL, UNMC and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine, and NCTA. The foundation raises more than $7 for every $1 it spends. Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future is its current campaign with a goal to raise $3 billion from 150,000 unique benefactors to support the University of Nebraska. More information is at


The Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation of Chicago is making a major gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation to create four endowed student scholarship funds and to expand and permanently endow 14 existing scholarship funds. The scholarships will benefit students across the University of Nebraska system who meet the criteria of each.

This article originally appeared on Nebraska Today.

To contribute to any of these Universities and specifically CoJMC at UNL, see the links below:

An additional gift of $755,000 from the Meier Foundation will support the construction of a new television studio and newsroom at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications. It replaces an existing studio and will include a newsroom, television control area and three separate news sets. It will incorporate cutting-edge technology that supports live broadcasts or one-person productions.

A 1941 Husker alumnus, the late Donald “Don” Meier used estate planning to direct assets from his charitable foundation to provide significant support for the University of Nebraska. During their lives, Meier and his late wife, Lorena, gave regularly to the university and established 14 student scholarship funds, the first one being created in 1999.

“The generous support from Donald and Lorena Meier — during their lives and through planned giving — will help make the university even more accessible and affordable for thousands of students,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “Support for a new, state-of-the-art TV studio and newsroom will also offer a truly professional experience for journalism students.

“The philanthropic mark made by Don and Lorena on our students and the entire University of Nebraska system will continue for generations.”

The Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation has committed to transfer assets to the University of Nebraska Foundation over the next several years to fulfill the Meiers’ wishes of helping young people achieve their educational goals.

“Don and Lorena Meier cared deeply about Don’s alma mater and assisting students in achieving their own career success and enjoyment,” said David Shoub, president of the Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation. “Over the next 25 years, the foundation plans to provide an estimated $10 million in support of student scholarships to fulfill the charitable wishes of Don and Lorena. We’re pleased to be carrying forth their aspirations in making a University of Nebraska education possible for more promising students for generations to come.”

Don and Lorena Meier had distinguished media careers that included the production of award-winning national network television shows, the most popular and long running being Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” and “Zoo Parade.”

“Wild Kingdom” was an Emmy-winning wildlife documentary program starring Marlin Perkins that aired from 1963 to 1971 on NBC, after which it entered syndication. Episodes of the program air on RFD-TV, with new and updated content across many of its digital properties.

Meier also produced “Zoo Parade,” a 1950s NBC program featuring animals from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Prior to producing these programs, Meier served as an NBC producer for several local programs and events, including television broadcasts of Chicago Cubs and White Sox baseball games.

Don Meier’s interest in supporting student scholarships was influenced by his own experience at the University of Nebraska. During his lifetime, he considered different ways to support the university but was especially drawn to opportunities for scholarships or other projects that directly benefit students.

“I had no other dream than to go to the University of Nebraska,” he told the university in 2008 in announcing his plans for significant support of student scholarships.

Don Meier’s dream did not come easy. He worked off and on during college, sometimes taking up to a year off to work or to return home to Oshkosh, Nebraska, where he had a job as a high school librarian. He completed his college education in six years.

“I remember my own struggles to complete my college education,” he once said. “In those days, back in the 1930s, they didn’t have a lot of scholarships. I just remember how tough it was for me to make it. It became apparent to me as I pursued my own career that the main thing is not only the support, but it’s important to get kids into college, and I agree with my wife who says that all students should seek to expand their potential by seeking full development of their talent.”

Lorena Meier died June 22, 2018, at age 100, and Don Meier died July 13, 2019, at age 104.

The Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation has committed over several years to support new and existing scholarship funds that were established by Don and Lorena Meier. Students enrolled in the following colleges and areas of the University of Nebraska who meet certain scholarship criteria are eligible:

University of Nebraska–Lincoln:

University of Nebraska at Kearney:

Any University of Nebraska campus: