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   from the issue of April 19, 2007

Family provides capstone gift for multicultural center


The capstone donation is in place for the development and naming of UNL's new multicultural center.

Jackie Gaughan
Jackie Gaughan

Through a gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation from the Gaughan family of Las Vegas, the multicultural center will be named in honor of patriarch Jackie D. Gaughan. The gift, announced April 13, was provided by on behalf of the family by John Gaughan, a 1988 graduate of the UNL College of Business Administration and grandson to Jackie Gaughan.

"Nebraska and its people mean a great deal to my grandfather and our family," said John Gaughan. "Although we are Nevadans, we will never forget our roots reach back deep into Nebraska's soil. It is with these feelings and our deep love for our grandfather that our family is proud to be involved in this wonderful project, which personifies our beliefs and will be a lasting tribute to what he means to us and to so many others."

An Omaha native, Jackie Gaughan is known in the hotel and entertainment industry for being one of the first employers in Las Vegas to encourage diverse hiring practices. Gaughan said he values higher education and the belief that individuals should be valued for their hard work, loyalty and strong values, not their color, nationality or religion.

"It is my hope the new Jackie D. Gaughan Multicultural Center will provide students a place where they can come together and learn to be respectful of the many unique individuals they will encounter in their lives," Jackie Gaughan said from his home in Las Vegas. "I hope they grow to understand a diverse society is truly a richer place to live."
CASINO MAN - Jackie Gaughan stands in front of his El Cortez Hotel and Casino in this picture from the 1960s...
 CASINO MAN - Jackie Gaughan stands in front of his El Cortez Hotel and Casino in this picture from the 1960s. Gaughan is regarded as one of the first hotel and entertainment employers in Las Vegas to encourage diverse hiring practices. Courtesy photo.

Construction of the $8.7 million center, to adjoin the east side of the Nebraska Union, will begin upon completion of final designs. As tentatively planned, the center will open in early 2010 with three floors and 30,000 square feet of space, to include student lounges, computer lab, meeting rooms and a large multi-use area. It will also include student offices, tutoring rooms and space for faculty, staff and students dedicated to diversity and multicultural programming, such as the staff of the Office of Academic Support and Intercultural Services.

Half of the cost for the center is being provided by students, who voted in March 2006 to move forward with the project and to increase student fees by $12 per semester beginning in 2009 to assist with its funding.

In his 2006 state of the university address, chancellor Harvey Perlman said a new multicultural center was a priority for the campus.

"The new multicultural center will be an important step in securing and expanding the progress we have made in our diversity efforts," said Perlman. "It has both programmatic and symbolic importance.

"We are grateful to the Gaughan family for their support of this project and for their commitment to campus diversity. Because of their generosity and vision, future generations of students will see the Jackie D. Gaughan Multicultural Center as a vibrant and vital center for student life."

Jamar Banks, director of the Office of Academic Support and Intercultural Services and of the current Culture Center, said the Gaughans' gift and the student support is a step forward for diversity enhancement at UNL and a tribute to the work by student groups and student leaders.

"Our campus now has more multicultural students and more biracial students, and so with that change in our student profile there is a need for a multicultural center," Banks said. "When you talk about welcoming folks and being inclusive, this building is going to say all those things."

Students who feel included are more engaged and connected to their community, and in the case of a university, will be more likely to graduate, he said.

Jackie Gaughan was born and raised in Omaha and became familiar with the gaming industry as a runner of sports books to establishments that took legitimate sports and horse racing bets. The job helped put him through Creighton University in Omaha where he graduated from the College of Commerce.

During his service in the U.S. Army during World War II, Gaughan was introduced to Nevada while stationed at the Las Vegas Airbase and while serving as a gunnery instructor at the Army Air Corps in Tonopah. He returned to Omaha after the war, but new taxes designed to limit Nebraska's gaming industry meant he could not easily return to work in the state. He moved his family to Las Vegas in 1951 where he was offered the opportunity to purchase a small interest in the Flamingo Hotel. He later purchased the El Cortez Hotel and several other downtown Las Vegas properties.

Jackie D. Gaughan Multicultural Center

• Construction of $8.7 million center on the east side of the Nebraska Union will begin with the completion of final designs.
• Opening tentively planned for early 2010.
• Three floors, 30,000 square foot facility to include student lounges, computer lab, meeting rooms, multi-use area.



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