Achievements | Wishart receives Nebraska Book Award

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Achievements | Wishart receives Nebraska Book Award

David Wishart

David Wishart, professor of geography, has received a 2014 Nebraska Book Award in the non-fiction (history) category for his book “The Last Days of the Rainbelt.” The awards are presented by the Nebraska Center for the Book.

“The award is an honor and a reassurance that the time I spent researching and writing the book was worthwhile,” Wishart said. “It’s another step for me in trying to understand the Great Plains.”

From 1885-89, thousands flocked to western Kansas, southwestern Nebraska and eastern Colorado following the mythical “Rainbelt.” When the region suffered a deep, protracted drought in the mid-1890s, the settlers’ hopes and expectations of a land filled with agricultural and social promise were shattered.

“The myth of the Rainbelt was laid to rest,” Wishart said.

“The Last Days of the Rainbelt” chronicles what life was like in the heyday of that settlement in the 1880s and in the abandonment of the area in the mid-1890s. Many counties in the region lost more than one-third of their population from 1890 to 1900; some lost as much as two-thirds.

“The Last Days of the Rainbelt” is published by the University of Nebraska Press and is available for purchase at

The Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Library Commission, in partnership with the Friends of the University of Nebraska Press. The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

Other recent awards and honors earned by the UNL community include:


• Keric Rolle and Okasate Traore have received the Actuarial Diversity Scholarship. The Actuarial Foundation scholarship promotes cultural diversity through its recognition of African American, Latino/Latina and Native American undergraduate actuarial students.


• Julie Johnson and John Bernthal attended the Big Ten Retirees Association Conference Aug. 8 and 9 at the University of Minnesota. Johnson also attended the National Association of Retired Organizations in Higher Education meeting at UM. The emeriti professors will share what they learned at the conference to improve and enhance UNL emeriti programs. UNL will host the 2016 Big Ten Retirees Conference.


• The Lied Center for Performing Arts won the Tourism Development Award from the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and received recognition for exemplifying creativity in the development of the tourism industry.

The Lied Center sees 150,000 visitors per year, 30,000 of those from outside of Lincoln, and those numbers continue to grow. Visitors come from all over the state, region, country and world come to Lincoln to enjoy the Lied’s world-class performances by top performing artists like the Joffrey Ballet, Bill Cosby, Bernadette Peters and Yo-Yo Ma.

Celebrating its 25th season as Nebraska’s “Home for the Arts,” the Lied Center continues to host an ever-growing number of people who come to Lincoln for conferences, corporate events and international festivals. During their time in Lincoln, the Lied Center’s 150,000 annual visitors also stay in downtown Lincoln hotels, dine in local restaurants and spend money at neighborhood small businesses. The Lied Center was also recognized for its collaboration with local hotels, restaurants and other establishments to maximize the economic impact of Lincoln tourists.

“The Lied Center’s historic 25th anniversary season will feature artists like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Broadway shows like Sister Act, Anything Goes and Peter and the Starcatcher,” said Bill Stephan, executive director of the Lied Center. “We fully expect that the 14-15 Lied season will make an even more considerable economic impact on the Lincoln community.”

This column is a regular feature of UNL Today. Faculty, staff and students can submit their achievements to be considered for this column via email to For more information, call 402-472-8515.

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