Plainview, Nebraska, native Bill Johnson has been selected as senior vice president of development at the University of Nebraska Foundation, where he will lead private fundraising efforts for the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Johnson, who has an extensive background in higher education fundraising leadership, will work in partnership with the chancellor and other university leaders, Husker Athletics, the Nebraska Alumni Association and the foundation’s UNL development team to advance the fundraising goals of the state’s flagship university.
He is currently vice president of university advancement at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in education administration/athletic administration from UNL while playing basketball under Coach Danny Nee. He then worked as an assistant basketball coach and director of basketball operations for the Huskers for four years.
“The University of Nebraska took a kid from the reservation in northeast Nebraska, welcomed him as a student athlete and eventually an employee early in my professional life,” said Johnson, a member of the Santee Sioux Tribe. “To have the opportunity to return home and assist the foundation in leading a successful, impactful campaign is a great honor to uplift a community and state that still mean the world to me.”
Last fall, the University of Nebraska Foundation launched a historic campaign to encourage at least 150,000 benefactors to give $3 billion to support all campuses of the University of Nebraska, which includes UNL, the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.
Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future has three priorities: to create additional scholarships and invest in programs and modern facilities that offer hands-on learning opportunities for students; to support the university’s faculty, clinical and academic programs; and to grow the University of Nebraska as a hub of research and innovation.
“I’ve known Bill for a number of years,” said Brian F. Hastings, president and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation. “He is a respected leader in our profession and has served in leadership roles at multiple universities, including his leadership of two university foundations. Bill’s fundraising experience, leadership and coaching experience, and great appreciation for the state of Nebraska will make a tremendous difference in furthering UNL’s success.”
An interview committee appointed by Chancellor Ronnie Green assisted with the search. Committee members were: Katherine Ankerson, executive vice chancellor; Michael Zeleny, vice chancellor for business and finance; Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; Richard Moberly, dean of the College of Law; and Lance Pérez, dean of the College of Engineering.
“I am extremely pleased to welcome Bill Johnson back to his alma mater,” Green said. “As a former Husker athlete and a graduate of our university, Bill knows firsthand the profound impact that a University of Nebraska education can have on a student’s future. Bill’s deep love for Nebraska will make him an excellent partner as we work together to meet the needs of our students, our university and state.”
Johnson succeeds Joe Selig, who retired from the foundation last year after serving the University of Nebraska in various capacities for 46 years.
“We are excited for Bill, with his three decades of university leadership and fundraising experience, to take on this leadership role and be an extraordinary coach, mentor and partner, advancing our collective efforts on behalf of the University of Nebraska,” said Lori Byrne, executive vice president of advancement and campaign director at the University of Nebraska Foundation.
In his current role at the University of Nevada, Reno, Johnson oversees fundraising, alumni engagement, advancement services, donor relations and other functions. He also serves as executive director of the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation. Last year, Johnson served as interim athletic director while the university conducted a national search to fill the vacancy.
Previously, he served as vice president of university advancement at California State University, East Bay, and in other advancement roles at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, and the University of San Francisco, where he also was an assistant men’s basketball coach. Johnson was an administrative fellow in the Harvard University Native American Program. Earlier in his career, he raised athletic funds for Georgetown University; Columbia University, where he was an assistant men’s basketball coach; and Casper College in Casper, Wyoming, where he was also head men’s basketball coach.
Johnson’s first day at the foundation will be June 5.