Wigton Heritage Center groundbreaking set for today

by Karen Burbach, UNMC public relations | June 24, 2019

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

An artist's rendering of the Wigton Heritage Center.

The UNMC community is invited to celebrate the Wigton Heritage Center groundbreaking and the launch of the Wittson Hall renovation today.

The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. in the Truhlsen Events Center inside the Sorrell Center. The ceremony also will be available via Facebook Live on the UNMC account.

Following the groundbreaking ceremony, a reception will take place from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Linder Reading Room inside the Sorrell Center. The campus community is invited to stop by and congratulate Dr. Wigton, as well as view a video fly-by of the Wigton Heritage Center. Campus leaders will provide brief comments beginning at 12:15 p.m. Light refreshments will be available.

See an animated vision of the Wigton Heritage Center and the renovated Wittson Hall.

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.

Fast facts on the Wigton Heritage Center.

Major funding for the Wigton Heritage Center 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 and in several key administrative areas in the College of Medicine, including associate dean for graduate medical education. The Wigton legacy spans three generations with several physicians within the family serving UNMC.

The Leland J. and Dorothy H. Olson Charitable Foundation also provided a generous gift in support of the Wigton Heritage Center project. Leland Olson, M.D., and Dorothy Hodges Olson, both deceased, were University of Nebraska alumni and major contributors to UNMC for a variety of women's health and university initiatives. Dr. Olson, a respected obstetrician and gynecologist in Omaha, was a volunteer UNMC physician staff member and mentored medical interns in his practice.

More information on Dr. Wigton and Dr. and Mrs. Olson.

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

Some of the features of the Wigton Heritage Center include:
  • Meeting and reception space for events;
  • Interactive displays such as archives, instruments and books that pertain to the history of medicine at UNMC;
  • Open collaboration, meeting and seating space; and
  • A link to the McGoogan Library of Medicine from University Tower.
Emily McElroy, director of the McGoogan Library of Medicine, said the Wigton Heritage Center will allow the library to take previously-hidden prized collections, artifacts, archives and rare books and showcase them to the public.
"The Wigton Heritage Center will serve as a catalyst for understanding, experiencing and appreciating UNMC’s unique heritage," McElroy said. "Our special collections will come alive to educate, engage and enlighten visitors on topics like women in medicine, prominent alumni contributions and much more.
"The people who have walked through these doors for generations - faculty, preceptors, students, researchers, administrators and community champions - have left their marks, and in doing so, have defined UNMC’s past, present and future. We are telling the story of UNMC’s history and outstanding medical achievements that have affected the lives of countless Nebraskans." 

The UNMC Department of Facilities Management and Planning's construction blog provides up-to-date information on the project including alternate pedestrian traffic routes.


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