Renovation project to include new Wigton Heritage Center

June 29, 2018

Image with caption: An artist's rendering of the Wigton Heritage Center.

An artist's rendering of the Wigton Heritage Center.

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents Thursday approved the construction and naming of a welcome and campus history center that will showcase the University of Nebraska Medical Center's unique heritage. The Wigton Heritage Center will be built in conjunction with the Wittson Hall renovation project on UNMC's Omaha campus.

picture disc.
Robert Wigton, M.D., spoke on the history of the University of Nebraska Hospital at an event in February.
The multi-level glass addition and resulting budget increase -- from $18 million to $26 million total -- incorporates building the privately-funded $8 million Wigton Heritage Center in the center of campus, while also updating the nearly 50-year-old Wittson Hall with significant modernization of the library and the current building safety codes.

"We are grateful for the support of the private donors who make this project possible. Their UNMC legacies span multiple generations of service at UNMC," said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D. "Their commitment to building the Wigton Heritage Center enables us to highlight the unique history of the medical center and the important role it has played both in the state and global leadership throughout medical education."

Major funding has been committed by Robert Wigton, M.D., a 1969 alumnus of the College of Medicine who served as professor in internal medicine at UNMC. The Wigton legacy spans three generations with several physicians within the family serving on the faculty of UNMC.

The 10,000-square-foot Wigton Heritage Center will celebrate and memorialize UNMC's history, while also serving as a campus welcome center. In addition, the fully privately-funded project will replace the existing walkways between Wittson Hall and University Tower. The buildings will be connected through a multi-floor space.

The center will tell UNMC's story through gallery and digital exhibit space; showcase the McGoogan Library's vast special collections, artifacts, archives and rare books; and expose University Hospital's historic fa├žade and iconic columns within a planned atrium that will serve as a welcoming space for alumni, visitors, new and prospective students and others.

The project will coincide with the renovation of Wittson Hall, an eight-level concrete and masonry structure with approximately 207,000 gross square feet of space. Built in 1971, Wittson Hall provides education space for the Colleges of Medicine and Allied Health Professions, office space for campus administration, research laboratories and support space, and three levels dedicated to the McGoogan Library of Medicine and the Wigton History of Medicine Archives.

In 2013, UNMC leaders used LB 605 funds to complete a partial update of some of Wittson Hall's building systems (i.e., heating, ventilation and air conditioning). The signing of LB 957 will enable that work to continue by funding the repair and maintenance of various University of Nebraska facilities.

"This project is yet another important example of how public-private partnerships have helped UNMC flourish and fulfill its statewide mission to transform lives. The Wigton Heritage Center will be a transformational gathering place, where we can welcome guests, host events and meet with friends and colleagues," Dr. Gold said.

The board's action enables UNMC to gain efficiencies in both work schedule and budget by combining the work to be completed by the same low bidder and in the same construction zone. Construction likely will begin over the next several months with completion expected in December 2019.

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Keith McReynolds,MD
August 10, 2018 at 5:39 PM

Robert, congratulations on the Heritage Center. I look forward to seeing it and you on our 50th reunion. Keith McReynolds, MD Class of 1969

Emily McElroy
June 29, 2018 at 12:10 PM

The library is very excited to work on this project. We are so grateful to Dr. Wigton for his support of the institution.