The UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute celebrated its new home June 8 with a ribbon-cutting event that showcased the innovation, care and commitment that went into creating the building at 6902 Pine St., near the University of Nebraska at Omaha Scott campus.
Noted autism advocates John and Traci Schneider, chair of Special Olympics International Timothy Shriver, PhD, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, University of Nebraska President Ted Carter and the parent of an MMI client joined MMI, UNMC and University of Nebraska Foundation speakers to welcome a small group to MMI's new home in an event that was livestreamed across the state and country.
"We built the world's most advanced treatment, diagnostic and community engagement facility for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families," said MMI Director Karoly Mirnics, MD, PhD.
Major contributors to the building initiative include the following:
- Weitz Family Foundation
- William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation
- Suzanne & Walter Scott Foundation
- Hattie B. Munroe Foundation
- Clarkson Regional Health Services
- Holland Foundation
- Robert B. Daugherty Foundation
- The Lozier Foundation
"We built it on time and on budget. The vision of leaders, love of parents, passion of providers, thoughtfulness of fundraisers, skills of the architects, wisdom of elected officials, sweat of the builders and resources and love of our amazing philanthropists glued this building together. My heart is overflowing with gratitude. With these ingredients, this is more than a building. This is the future and a promise. And we are caretakers of this amazing dream that became a reality."
At 220,000 square feet, the $91 million building is more than double the size of MMI's former home.
UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, called the new building the result of an unprecedented collaboration between patients, families, faculty and staff, architects, designers and builders who worked to create a place for research, clinical care and other services.
Paul Kenney, chair of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, said: "Everything we do at the University of Nebraska is focused on improving the lives of Nebraskans. The Munroe-Meyer Institute is a shining example of how we bring that mission to each and every day."
Dr. Shriver toured the building for the first time and spoke at the event.
"If you look around this room, I think you see what it takes to create the strongest and most powerful advocate -- it's an advocacy of us," Dr. Shriver said.
He called the building "a giant transformer."
"Science is poured in, but it's transformed into compassion," he said. "Training is poured into the building, and it's transformed into dignity. And where vulnerability . . . comes through the door and it's transformed into strength. That is no small transformation."
Speaking via a pre-recorded message, Seattle Seahawks General Manager John Schneider and his wife Traci, both noted autism advocates, congratulated UNMC and MMI and spoke about receiving their own son's autism diagnosis.
Mayor Stothert said: "We recognize the needs and the importance to provide opportunities for everyone to be fully included in all aspects of life. The Munroe-Meyer Institute provides these opportunities to those with developmental disabilities to live as independently and productively as they possibly can. When a family needs your services, this is the kind of compassionate and comprehensive care that we want to offer in Omaha."
Susan Gass, whose son Kaleb has received services at MMI for 12 years, spoke of MMI's impact.
"I can assure you the programs, services, education, clinics and other opportunities in this building for those with developmental disabilities and their families are abundant," she said. "The community of Omaha is very lucky to have all of this available to us. MMI partners with families to allow them to dream big and provides opportunities for our kids to help them achieve their potential at home, school and in the community."
University of Nebraska President Ted Carter spoke in a pre-recorded message.
"This is truly a special day for Nebraska and our university, and most of all, for the patients and families who will benefit from the expanded and updated facility that MMI now calls home," he said.
Thank you to everyone who made this happen for UNMC and Nebraska! Many generations of clients and families will benefit from the important work that will happen in this facility. Dr. Mirnics and his entire team should be so proud of all that has been accomplished with this critical project. We truly have the most wonderful and generous donors an institution could ever ask for! Thank you!!!
Wow, what an awesome day for MMI and the state of Nebraska. Special thanks to all the donors who helped make this possible.