UNL journalism graduate and humanitarian gifts $2 million to alma mater

By: - October 26, 2023 6:50 pm

Shari Veil , left, dean of the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications, with humanitarian and 1964 UNL graduate Jane (Tenhulzen) Olson. Veil is to be the inaugural recipient of the Jane T. Olson Endowed Deanship that is established through a $2 million gift from Olson and her husband. (Courtesy of University of Nebraska Foundation)

LINCOLN — A journalist and humanitarian who graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has, along with her husband, pledged a $2 million gift to create an endowed deanship at her alma mater.

Jane Olson, through her work and travels with human rights organizations, captured stories about people in places such as Rwanda, Ukraine and the former Yugoslavia.

The 1964 UNL graduate, according to a media statement, credited her years at the NU flagship for preparing her for challenging situations including writing accounts from war zones and refugee camps.

In appreciation, she and husband, Ron, made the financial commitment to establish the Jane T. Olson Endowed Deanship in the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Pending approval, Shari Veil, who has led the college as dean since 2020, is to be the inaugural recipient.

“Jane is an incredible force for good in this world,” said Veil. “She is truly an inspiration and I am proud to carry on her legacy to the next generation of media and communication professionals.”

The gift is to support a salary stipend and help cover student and staff costs of the college’s “Experience Lab,” which offers experience in a public relations agency for nonprofits, a statewide newswire service, television and news broadcasts, a campus radio station and more.

Olson’s donation, according to the NU Foundation statement, was inspired by visits to the college. She said many students are first-generation, as was she.

“As an alum, I realize that having a college with a strong and growing reputation benefits all alumni,” Olson said.

Olson, who majored in journalism and is now an NU Foundation trustee, was recognized as the 2023 Alumni Master for the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. She worked at newspapers in Nebraska, Iowa and Michigan before raising three children.

Among her humanitarian roles, she was chair of the International Board of Trustees of Human Rights Watch from 2004 to 2010 and was co-chair of the Women’s Refugee Commission.

Olson said she heeded advice of journalism professors and, during her travels, took photos and detailed notes of survivors she met.

“That advice to pay attention to the details really mattered,” she said. “The enrichment for the reader comes from all those details.”


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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.