Funding Tomorrow's Filmmakers: Endowment Gift Supports UNL Internships

Rogers Mcllnay

A Shared Love
The couple met in a broadcast class at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications, and both did stints as production assistants at NET Television (then called NETV). In fact, Gifford's first job out of college was as a camera operator at the station, and he stayed with NET for more than a decade, climbing the ladder from camera operator to staff director and finally to producer/director in what was called the Nebraska Videodisc Design & Production Group, a forerunner to the multimedia technology so prevalent today. His valuable experience in public broadcasting combined with a solid education from the "J School" served as a springboard, propelling Gifford into a successful career as an executive producer and consultant.

Real-world Experience
That's why Gifford and Sharon decided to support a partnership between UNL and NET. With a generous gift to the NET Foundations' Inspire Nebraska Endowment, the couple has created the McIlnay Rogers Excel Internships, which fund a UNL student internship each year at NET Television. Because the gift was made to the Endowment, it will fund internships in perpetuity.

"We wanted to give back by funding a handshake, so to speak, between the J School, the Hixon Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and NET," says Gifford. The program gives students real-world experience before they even step foot into the job market. "The internship is confirming that I really do enjoy this work," says UNL intern Brooke Glaser, "and that there are opportunities to do this right here in Nebraska."

Gifford and Sharon have always had a deep and abiding affection for Nebraska, and now that affection will resonate with students for decades to come. "We are delighted their generous gift to the endowment will allow UNL students to benefit from hands-on learning at NET," says Rod Bates, "much the same way Gifford and Sharon did when they were students at the University."

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