February 28, 2020

Alumni time capsule archives N150 spirit

Time Capsule
Justin Mohling | University Communication

Justin Mohling | University Communication
A new time capsule, set to be placed in the Wick Alumni Center, has captured the spirit of Nebraska's 150th year for future generations of Huskers.

It’s hard to imagine what the world will look like in 50 years.

The everyday items that seem so familiar to us now — a Valentino’s pizza box from football game days, graduation stoles, even Nebraska T-shirts — will likely be considered relics of the past.

A new time capsule set to be placed in the Wick Alumni Center is preserving those objects and memories for future Huskers to ponder. The capsule will be opened in 2069, the 200th anniversary of the university. Its contents serve as a glimpse into what life was like on campus during Nebraska’s 150th year.

Kirstin Wilder, senior director of publications at the Nebraska Alumni Association, started the project in 2019 as a piece for Nebraska Quarterly. The concept soon grabbed the attention of other organizations on campus.

“It truly was just a magazine story idea that then took on a life of its own,” she said.

The capsule includes contributions from all nine colleges, the Nebraska Alumni Association, the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska, Athletics, the Office of the Chancellor, the Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services, Nebraska Extension, Morrill Hall and Sheldon Museum of Art.

Among the items inside are letters from campus leaders about their programs, an “In Our Grit Our Glory” banner signed by students, a collection of tweets by Chancellor Ronnie Green and small pieces of buildings on campus.

Time Capsule
Justin Mohling | University Communication
From left are Chancellor Ronnie Green, Kirstin Wilder, Jim Schmucker and Shelley Zaborowski. Schmucker created the chest from black walnut over the course of three months.

Jim Schmucker, a three-time University of Nebraska alumnus and retired school administrator from Scottsbluff, created the wooden chest that holds the capsule’s contents. He agreed to participate after being asked by his niece, Shelley Zaborowski, who is executive director of the Nebraska Alumni Association.

Schmucker said it took roughly three months to craft the chest from black walnut he’d saved from his father’s farm. Rusticly Inspired Signs, a design shop in Scottsbluff, also pitched in, engraving the top with Nebraska’s N150 logo as a gift to the university.

Although the chest proved more difficult than most woodworking projects he’s done, Schmucker said the end result was more than worth it.

“Obviously, as they open it in 50 years, I will be gone — and it will be a little part of me that lives on,” Schmucker said. “Hopefully it’s an inspiration to other alumni that they can do things for the university and maybe leave a little bit of their mark on the university.”

The time capsule was displayed after the State of Our University address at Nebraska Innovation Campus on Feb. 14. Schmucker was there to see his handiwork in person and said the moment left a lasting impression.

“I guess it kind of struck me when they put the memorabilia in the box and staged it to show people at the State of the University address, that the box that I built was containing just lots of wonderful things and wonderful information — like the football that Scott Frost and Tom Osborne signed, and all of the information from each of the deans about their colleges,” Schmucker said.

“People in 50 years will read that and think about what was going on at that time. It’s great, valuable information and knowing that I built the box that’s going to hold it, after seeing all those things, made it even more special.”

Time capsule
Justin Mohling | University Communication
The time capsule contains individual packages from a variety of campus organizations.