A Husker alumna’s passions for school spirit and the historic impacts of Louise Pound are coalescing for the next Nebraska Lecture.
The talk, “History of School Spirit and Louise Pound,” is 12:15 p.m. Oct. 4 at the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall, 645 N. 14th St. It will be led by Deb Kleve White, a University of Nebraska–Lincoln alumna and former Husker cheer squad member.
The talk, which is free and open to the public, will center on Kleve’s journey through the university archives to compile a history of the Nebraska cheer squad and assist with a Husker’s letter winner initiative.
“While researching campus traditions and the spirit squad, I discovered that Louise Pound played a pivotal role in bringing women cheerleaders to campus in 1917,” White said. “She was a brilliant woman who always fought to give women equal opportunities. She was also an amazing athlete.”
White will divide the talk into two sections, first discussing school history, then focusing on Pound. The second half will feature White interacting with a hologram of Pound — created with assistance of current Nebraska students and faculty.
White’s journey to the Oct. 4 lecture started in 2002 when she decided to “give something back to the university.”
“I always felt fortunate about my college experience and the opportunity to be a part of the yell squad,” White said. “When I found out that no one had researched the history of the yell squad, I decided that would be my project.”
Within a couple of months, White had gathered the history and compiled a list of every cheer squad member since 1903. For 2003, she worked with Husker Athletics to hold a cheer squad 100-year celebration, which featured a banquet attended by 382 and a football halftime show.
The project led to her being recruited by Athletics to dig into the history of Husker letter winners. While researching Husker men’s tennis, she discovered that Pound had played on the team and earned a letter.
“She was an amazingly talented tennis player and lettered in 1894,” White said. “I brought the Athletics Department proof and they inducted her into the men’s N Club in 2018. She is the only woman in the men’s N Club.”
White has since continued to learn more about Pound and published a book about Nebraska’s spirit traditions. Her book, “The Spirit of Nebraska: A History of Husker Game Day Traditions — The Tunnel Walk, Mascots, Cheer and More,” features a foreword by Husker coaching legend Tom Osborne. It will be available at the lecture and can be found in the University Bookstore.
For the second half of her presentation, White will interact directly with the hologram. White said she plans to ask four questions that the hologram — played by Jackalyn Fink, a local actress — will answer using quotes credited to Pound.
“We found a young woman who looks so much like Louise,” White said. “It’s going to be an amazing experience seeing this ghostly image move and answer questions.”
Members of the university’s Theme Park Club have led the way in creating the hologram. White credited Huskers John Strope, Pin Hao Cheng, Jon Haag, Awang Hasim, Kylee Hauxwell, Zoe Jirovsky, Parker Reil and Brennan Sanders for their work on the project.
“This lecture is going to be a perfect fit in the university’s celebration of its 150th anniversary,” White said. “My hope is everyone who attends walks away with a deeper understanding of our spirit traditions on campus and a desire to learn more about the groundbreaking work Louise Pound did for all women.”
White’s talk is the ninth in the 2019 Nebraska Lectures: Chancellor’s Distinguished Speaker series. Regularly offered twice a year and featuring faculty discussing research and creative activity, the series has expanded in 2019 to a year-long, 12-talk format celebrating the university’s 150th anniversary. The expanded series is supported through a $15,000 grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities through Humanities Nebraska.
All talks in the N150-inspired Chancellor’s Lecture series are free and open to the public. The talks will be streamed online and made available via podcast. Additional lecture topics and dates will be announced. Regular updates as well as videos from each lecture are available through the Nebraska Lectures website.
The Nebraska Lecture series is sponsored by the Research Council, Office of the Chancellor, Office of Research and Economic Development, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Humanities Nebraska.