UNMC nursing dean creates scholarship as parting gift

Juliann Sebastian, PhD

Juliann Sebastian, PhD

UNMC College of Nursing Dean Juliann Sebastian, PhD, who has led the college since 2011, is leaving a lasting parting gift when she retires in 2023: a scholarship to support generations of nursing students.

Dr. Sebastian and her husband, Russell, have created the Juliann G. and James Russell Sebastian Nursing Endowed Scholarship Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation. Together with additional contributions made in honor of Dr. Sebastian’s service, it will be a $300,000 permanently endowed fund to forever provide scholarship aid to future generations of nursing students.

The scholarship will be awarded annually to students enrolled in the UNMC College of Nursing who have financial need. Students may be enrolled in any of the college’s five divisions located in Scottsbluff, Kearney, Norfolk, Lincoln and Omaha.

Dr. Sebastian said the scholarship helps to extend her career-long commitment to finding ways to support students in their pursuit of knowledge and growth.

“Students consistently talk about their desires to give back and make a difference, whether through education, research, practice or leadership,” Dr. Sebastian said. “I am so proud of all they do. Together, my husband and I are honored to commit funds to help support them. Our hope is that we can help just a little bit with lessening the financial pressures that can get in the way of learning and growing.”  

To honor Dean Sebastian and her legacy in nursing, the Leland J. and Dorothy H. Olson Charitable Foundation of Omaha also has established a scholarship fund in her name: the Dr. Julie Sebastian Health Equity Scholars Fund. The fund is a permanent endowment created through a $500,000 gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation. This fund will allow UNMC to award annual scholarships to students enrolled in the UNMC College of Nursing who are pursuing a doctoral degree and are committed to research, education or nursing practice that aims to ensure health equity and to help eliminate health disparities.

Students with financial need who are the first in their families to attend college and demonstrate strong academic merit will be given first consideration for scholarship aid from the fund.

“I thank the Olson family for their ongoing dedication to fostering good health for all,” Dr. Sebastian said. “This fund is extraordinary because we know how critical it is to advance health equity in our state, our nation and the world. When I hear about issues such as disparities in African-American maternal and infant mortality rates, I am determined to find all the ways we can to ensure that all people, everywhere, have access to the best health care and healthy living and working environments. This fund will help support doctoral students in nursing who are preparing for research or practice careers and who will be future leaders in ensuring health equity for all. This fund is an enormously important investment in the future.”

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, called Dr. Sebastian a transformational leader during her tenure at the college.

“In areas such as education, research and community engagement, Dr. Sebastian has turned the UNMC College of Nursing into an incredible asset to the state of Nebraska,” Dr. Gold said. “Her efforts to increase the number of graduates, provide additional scholarship opportunities and address the need for nurses in the health workforce have had an impressive impact for our fellow Nebraskans.”

The two new scholarship funds were announced at Dr. Sebastian’s retirement reception Dec. 7. Others who wish to make a tribute to Dr. Sebastian and help nursing students may give online to the Sebastian Nursing Endowed Scholarship Fund or may contact Camtrice Bexten by email or at 402-502-4138.

In addition to her career as dean at the UNMC College of Nursing, Dr. Sebastian served as dean of the college of nursing at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She also served as assistant dean for advanced practice nursing and professor at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. Her areas of expertise are organization of care delivery systems and, in particular, care for underserved populations, academic nursing practice and nurse-managed centers, as well as Doctor of Nursing Practice program curricula.

Dr. Sebastian has presented widely at national and international conferences on these topics and has had numerous papers, book chapters, abstracts and three books related to community nursing published. She was a member of the inaugural cohort of the Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Executive Fellows program (1998-2001) and focused her fellowship work on academic nursing practice and system change.

Russell Sebastian is a lifelong businessman who has constructed and managed residential and commercial real estate in Lexington, Kentucky. As a strong supporter of higher education and health care, he has enjoyed learning about nursing during the Sebastians’ 47 years of marriage.

The Leland J. and Dorothy H. Olson Charitable Foundation was founded in Omaha in 1992 after its founders spent decades supporting women’s health through philanthropy and investing. Research and patient care at the University of Nebraska also was a resonating cause with the Olsons and, since their foundation’s inception, its scope of focus has expanded to include education, environment and health.

The nursing student support funds established in honor of Dr. Sebastian’s service to the university also provide support to “Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future,” the university’s current fundraising campaign to build the future Nebraska needs right now. Learn more at the Only in Nebraska website.


  1. Brigette Vaughan says:

    This truly highlights Dr. Sebastian’s generous spirit and love of learning. Thank you for all of your years of service and enjoy the next chapter as generations of nurses benefit from your gift!

  2. Linda Jensen, Phd, RN says:

    It has been a pleasure to know you and work with you as a nursing colleague when I represented Clarkson College on the Wellness Committee. Enjoy your well earned retirement!

  3. Carman DeMare, DNP, APRN-NP says:

    Congratulations, Dr. Sebastian, on your upcoming retirement. These scholarship opportunities are an amazing gift to continue your impact on nursing education at UNMC!

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