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Construction management program earns $75,000 grant
DeAnn Reed
Antelope Staff
Photo by DeAnn Reed
Nate A. Barry (left) and Dr. Kennard Larson (right) hold an endowment check for the department of construction management. The funds will be dispersed $25,000 per year over the next three years.

UNK construction management earned a big boost when the National Housing Endowment presented a grant of $75,000 to the program last month in Las Vegas. Of 41 universities that applied for the funds, only four were awarded the endowment.  Other schools were: (1) Western Kentucky University, (2) UNL and (3) a combined application with Western Carolina, Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati State. Dr. Kennard Larson, professor and coordinator of the construction management department, presented the program to the entire board of directors in Washington, D.C in October 2009.

Larson said the check is significant because with reduced budgets today and more pressure to go outside for funding, every funding source is very important. Larson said they intend to use the grant money to hire another faculty staff member to work closely with outside industrial companies and to teach on campus. “Hopefully then those companies will provide scholarships and donations to the program. It takes a lot of work and time to do that. With our current staffing we don’t have that luxury.”

According to Larson, the grant is also an indicator of the kind of program developed over the years. “They liked what they heard about us spending time to develop the professionalism aspect for our students— not just the technical content,” Larson said. The department has worked hard to develop relations with the Kearney community, and he believes that is why the program is successful, said Nate A. Barry, an instructor in the department of construction management.

Larson said the National Housing Endowment is trying to build a cadre of 20 schools for which they want to provide continued funding in the future. The endowment now has 15 of the 20 identified and that includes UNK.  “The $75,000 is fantastic, and it is, its seed money, and that’s the way they push it. But more importantly,” Barry said, “they are only going to identify basically 20 schools across the country to continue to support, to continue to grow. And with UNK identified as one of those 20, we can then tell students and future students, and even students at the two-year schools that are looking to get their four-year degree, we know we are a part of that 20 elite group.”

Barry said UNK will be in a position to collaborate with other larger universities like Purdue, Michigan State and Texas A&M because of the prestige the grant gives to their department.

“It lets the nation know—  that even in small town Nebraska— you can get the quality of education or superior education that you can anywhere across the country,” Barry said.  

Larson acknowledges this grant is a reflection of hard work.  They both agreed the cooperation between departments has been tremendous. The department of industrial technology has aided their team  and the two construction management professors recognize that and are grateful.

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