By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog
Updated 3:23 p.m. Wednesday
The University of Nebraska Foundation has bought a house for the University of Nebraska president.
The foundation purchased the 7,000-square-foot home at 2810 S. 27th Street for $750,000 with private funds, including a major gift from a donor to NU Foundation, according to a foundation news release.
The foundation will own the home, which will include space for hosting university events, guest quarters and private quarters for the president’s family.
From the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, University of Nebraska presidents lived in homes donated to and owned by the foundation until the home was destroyed in an electrical fire in 1996. Instead of replacing the home, a housing allowance was instituted.
NU President J.B. Milliken owns a home in Lincoln’s Country Club Neighborhood and gets $24,000 per year to defray housing expenses. Milliken bought the nearly 6,000-square-foot house on Sheridan Boulevard for $682,500 in 2004. Milliken will sell his home and move into the foundation home sometime next year, according to his spokeswoman. Once he moves, his housing allowance will end.
In September 2012 the NU Board of Regents voted to return to the practice of providing an official residence for the president of the university using non-state funds, to accommodate the volume of university business and entertainment that occurs in a president’s residence. The president hosts university faculty, visitors, donors and students in his private residence.
According to data compiled for the regents, eight of the 12 Big Ten universities provide a home for the president, while Indiana University provides a $48,000 housing allowance.
“The president is expected to host a wide range of events that benefit the University of Nebraska,” said Tim Clare, chairman of the Board of Regents, in the press release. “Providing an official residence is widely recognized to be a necessary part of supporting the president in carrying out his or her responsibilities. Most large universities around the country – including nearly all Big Ten universities – follow this practice.”
Clare has previously said Milliken did not push the housing issue.
Brian Hastings, president of the foundation, said, “With the help of a private donor, the University of Nebraska Foundation looks forward to being able to provide a location to meet the needs of the University of Nebraska and expand on business and entertaining opportunities in the future.”
Common Cause Nebraska, a government watchdog group, has opposed the move, saying it takes property off the tax rolls. The group said Milliken’s contract already includes money for house cleaning, lawn care and snow removal and the money would be better spent to lower tuition or send more kids to college. The group is concerned about the increasing amount of foundation funds used to boost Nebraska administrators’ salaries and perks.
Milliken already receives a supplemental retirement allowance of $12,000 annually, a university car with gas, insurance and maintenance covered, a country club membership and $22,000 annual expense account.
The home, which is on the corner of 27th St. and Van Dorn, is currently owned by Donald and Jill Everett, according to Lancaster County Assessor records. Don Everett is president of Runza Restaurants. However, the house was not donated to the foundation by the Everetts. The donor’s name is not being disclosed by the foundation at the donor’s request.
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