Robert “Bobby” Gottsch lived the values of rural Nebraska and the Midwest: excellence, loyalty, hard work, self-reliance and fiscal conservatism. In Hastings College, the late cattleman and agri-business leader found an institution which embodies those same values. Consequently, he gave freely of his time and resources toward scholarships, building and maintenance projects, athletics and a collegiate rodeo club he helped found. As Vice Chair of the Hastings College Board of Trustees, Mr. Gottsch left an outstanding legacy of seeking out and investing in hard-working students with the potential to be difference makers in their communities and careers.
Mr. Gottsch passed away in August 2011.
On Thursday, October 4, 2012, while surrounded by Mr. Gottsch’s wife, Cindy, other family members, friends and Hastings College trustees, Hastings College President Dennis Trotter announced that the College will honor Mr. Gottsch’s legacy of leadership, service and values through the Bobby Gottsch Difference Makers Campaign. During the campaign’s silent phase, family and friends of Mr. Gottsch and Hastings College have donated or pledged $9 million. Campaign Co-Chairs Hal Dittmer ‘62, Chair of the Hastings College Board of Trustees, and Don Jackson ‘70, former Vice Chair of the Board and the college’s new Vice President for Advancement/Chief Development Officer, have set a goal of raising $12 million by mid-year 2013 for Hastings College’s endowment and current needs.
Cindy, Matt, Zack, Jennifer and Cheyenne Gottsch and Nicole (Gottsch) Jordening honored their husband and father with the campaign’s lead gift of $5 million. The donation from the Gottsch family will support scholarships for students with an agricultural background who have financial need.
“Bobby was committed to quietly supporting students who came to Hastings College from farms and ranches across Nebraska and the Midwest,” said Cindy Gottsch. “Our gift to this campaign in Bobby’s memory will assure the same opportunity will always be there for future generations of young people who realize the importance of a college education for obtaining a career and achieving self-sufficiency.”
President Trotter is enthusiastic as the campaign’s public phase begins.
“Throughout his life, Bobby Gottsch used his boundless energy to encourage others to higher standards of excellence,” said Trotter. “He believed in the value of a college education as a catalyst to a good job and meaningful life. This campaign will perpetuate Bobby’s values on campus. As an institution, we will use the funds for practical, inspirational projects which either invest directly in students with the potential to be difference makers in their communities or invest in the Hastings College physical campus to ensure the highest quality learning environment for Hastings College students, faculty and staff.”
The concept of the Bobby Gottsch Difference Makers Campaign came from a discussion between Jim Thom ’82 and Jackson on the eve of Mr. Gottsch’s funeral. At the time, both were on the Hastings College Board of Trustees. Thom of Hastings then asked his father LeRoy Thom if he would be willing to pledge $1 million to kick off the Bobby Gottsch Difference Makers Campaign which the elder Thom did.
Jim Thom and Jackson then asked Dittmer if he would also make a gift. Dittmer immediately committed $1 million to the campaign.
“Bobby Gottsch was my friend,” said Jim Thom. “We served together on the Hastings College Board. Bobby was passionate about Hastings College. He was especially inspired when he had an opportunity to give a hand to students of limited financial means who had great potential for success because of their commitment to hard work, perseverance and strong Midwestern values. This campaign will ensure a continuing commitment by Hastings College to perpetuate Bobby’s vision and values. When we lost Bobby, we lost a great leader and asset for the College. Our commitment is to do our best to continue Bobby’s legacy through this fund.”
People seeking to contribute to the Bobby Gottsch Difference Makers Campaign may contact Don Jackson at (402) 461-7791. Additionally, they may make donations and find more information online at www.hastings.edu/gottsch.
Donors can make a difference in the lives of Hastings College students, now and in the future, by giving to one or more of these five strategic areas that reflect Mr. Gottsch’s philanthropic priorities:
- Difference Makers Endowed Scholarships to establish a lasting source of scholarship income, especially for students from rural communities
- Bobby Gottsch Center for Leadership and Career Development to provide funds for internships, professional mentoring, and other opportunities to help talented students transition from college to career
- Endowed Fund for Campus Maintenance to ensure the highest quality physical plant and learning environment for Hastings College students
- Fund for Athletics to support top priority projects such as refurbishing the Robert Gottsch, Sr., Weight Training Room at the Osborne Family Sports Complex
- Rodeo Fund to sustain the only rodeo program at a liberal arts college on the Great Plains
Bio of Bobby Gottsch
An Elkhorn, Neb., native, Mr. Gottsch was president of Gottsch Enterprises, Inc. and affiliated companies including cattle and swine operations, ranches, farming, real estate, and land development. His success led to his induction into the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame.
A trustee at Hastings College for 16 years, Mr. Gottsch championed, with his energy and investments, difference makers in athletics, business management, leadership, and entrepreneurship, as well as hardworking students of limited means but great potential. Hastings College awarded Mr. Gottsch the President’s Award in 2010 and membership in the Athletic Hall of Fame, posthumously, in 2011.
He is survived by his wife of 28 years Cindy (Mau) Gottsch and their children Matthew, Zachary, Jennifer and Cheyenne Gottsch and Nicole (Gottsch) Jordening, as well as his brothers Brett, Barry and Bill.