UNL alumna Cope leaves $1 million to support music, business

Carol Cope
Carol Cope

UNL alumna Cope leaves $1 million to support music, business

calendar icon16 Sep 2013    user iconBy Brian Reetz

University of Nebraska–Lincoln alumna Carol Cope has directed a $1 million gift through her estate to provide permanently endowed support for faculty professorships in business and music at UNL.

The gift made to the University of Nebraska Foundation and announced on Sept. 4, 2013, establishes two $500,000 endowed funds. The Ron and Carol Cope School of Music Professorship will provide awards for outstanding music faculty members, and the Ron and Carol Cope UNL College of Business Administration Professorship will provide annual stipend awards to outstanding business faculty members.

In addition to the UNL gift, the Cope estate directed $11.6 million to support the University of Nebraska at Kearney, representing the largest gift ever to the campus. The gift establishes multiple permanently endowed funds, which will generate annual support for student scholarships, faculty awards, academic programs and more.

Brian Hastings, president and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation, said, “This most generous gift represents the lasting legacy of Ron and Carol Cope at the University of Nebraska. The magnitude of its effect will be felt on generations of students and educators.”

The gift provides support for the university’s Campaign for Nebraska, a comprehensive fundraising initiative with priorities that include increasing permanent support for students and faculty.

Carol Cope and her husband, Ron, were longtime residents of Kearney, where they owned shoe stores. They provided support to the University of Nebraska for more than 50 years, endowing funds for student scholarships and faculty professorships. They were regarded for their philanthropic and volunteer service in Kearney, and facilities throughout the city and UNK campus are named for them in honor of their generosity to the community.

When asked in 2006 to share her thoughts on giving, Cope told the University of Nebraska Foundation she enjoys giving to projects that are “going to do the most good.”

“Projects that will help the most people and that have the support of other people,” she said. “Philanthropy should be good and vibrant. It should be a social responsibility for those people who can afford to help others. And, if it is done in the right spirit, it should satisfy the giver as much as it does the recipient.”

Carol Cope grew up in Pawnee County in southeast Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1934 with a bachelor of fine arts in education. She taught music in North Platte and Lincoln before moving to California where she was a professional accompanist and completed a master’s degree at UCLA.

The Copes were married in 1939 and operated Claussens Shoes and Famous Shoe Stores for 30 years. They developed their estate by investing in farmland and early Berkshire-Hathaway stock.

Ron Cope was elected to the Nebraska Legislature in 1974. He died Jan. 12, 1992.

Carol Cope was involved in numerous organizations and foundations at local and state levels. She died on her 103rd birthday on Sept. 13, 2012.