The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has announced a $1.6 million estate gift from alumnus and retired insurance executive Bruce E. Mackey to support students through scholarships and academic programs. The gift will especially help first-generation students, students from low-income families and others with barriers to a college education.
Mackey, a 1955 graduate of the College of Business, said that when he learned about opportunities to help future generations of students, it aligned with how he and his late wife, Loyce Mackey, had decided they wanted to help others.
Mackey’s gift creates four permanently endowed funds at the University of Nebraska Foundation. Three funds will support students enrolled in the College of Business, and another endowment will support Husker students who complete the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy. The funds will be named for Bruce and Loyce Mackey, in recognition of their philanthropic legacy.
Students who complete the DreamBig Academy, a College of Business program for high school juniors that introduces them to college and business-related careers, will benefit from scholarship assistance to attend the university. The academy is designed for first-generation college students, students who are part of underrepresented identities or those who meet federal guidelines for low-income status.
Two other funds will support student scholarships and programs within the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Center for Sales Excellence in the College of Business.
“The generous planned gift from Bruce and Loyce Mackey will have a significant impact on our students for generations,” said Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean of the College of Business. “With tuition assistance and the support for our programs, students will have opportunities to co-create their learning experiences and set themselves apart in their careers. We are humbled and honored to help the Mackeys create a legacy that will empower Nebraska Business students to lead the future of business.”
The Mackey fund for the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy will provide financial aid to students who complete the program and attend college at Nebraska. The academy is a college access program that prepares academically talented, first-generation, low-income students for college and a career. Students take part in programs during high school and have access to the support of a community of peers, academic support and personal development opportunities throughout their studies at Nebraska.
“We’re extremely grateful to Bruce and Loyce Mackey because tuition scholarships are critical for Nebraska College Preparatory Academy’s first-generation scholars at Nebraska,” said Moi Padilla, the academy’s director. “It’s imperative to the academy’s mission that finances should never impede a student’s dream of earning a college degree. By providing our scholars with tuition scholarships, they’ll have the freedom to enter their professional careers with a strong community of support and without the added burden of debt.”
Bruce Mackey said he’s grateful to his hardworking relatives who carved out their lives and livelihoods in Frontier County, Nebraska, in the 1800s. Their strong work ethic was passed down through the generations. Mackey said he’s lived the American dream and wants his gifts to help provide the same opportunities for students.
He said: “I just hope that students can look back when they’re older and say, ‘I’ve lived the dream. I had the opportunity. I stood up to it and made it work. But I had some very important support along the way.’”
Mackey was born near Eustis, Nebraska, and grew up in Lincoln with his aunt and uncle after losing his parents at an early age. A graduate of Lincoln High School, he attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and graduated in 1955 before serving in the U.S. Army. He spent his career in the insurance industry, retiring as a senior vice president of a Fortune 200 company.
Mackey and his wife, Loyce, met on a blind date and were married for 55 years. After twice battling breast cancer for a total of more than 20 years, Loyce Mackey suffered injuries from a fall that ultimately took her life in 2012. Before her death, she urged her husband to enjoy the remainder of his life through helping others.
Following her advice, Bruce Mackey moved to Tampa, Florida, to be closer to Moffitt Cancer Center, where his wife received medical care. He serves as chairman of the Moffitt Foundation Legacy of Life Society and has devoted hundreds of volunteer hours at the center helping patients and their families.