University of Nebraska at Kearney A Century-Long Legacy

University of Nebraska at Kearney

At its beginnings, the Kearney State Normal was one of the six normal schools established by the state to provide teaching training.

Today UNK has evolved into an institution that offers students more than 90 undergraduate programs and 14 graduate degrees across three colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business and Technology, and Education.

University of Nebraska at Kearney

University of Nebraska at Kearney Historical Footsteps

In March 1903, the Nebraska State Legislature allotted $50,000 to construct a normal school in western Nebraska. Later in September, the State Board of Education approved Kearney’s proposition of 20 acres and Green Terrace Hall on the city’s western edge to be the site.

The cornerstone of the inaugural building was laid on October 18, 1904, and the school began offering its first classes in Kearney public school facilities during the summer of 1905. The campus classes commenced in the fall as the construction was underway. The freshman class was composed solely of women, with Men’s Hall being established as the first residence hall for male students.

The institution underwent a name change to Nebraska State Teachers College in 1921 and became Kearney State College in 1963, both reflecting system-wide alterations for the state colleges.

A legislative act in 1989 transitioned the institution from the Nebraska State College System to the University of Nebraska system. Following a Nebraska Supreme Court review, Kearney State College became the University of Nebraska at Kearney on July 1, 1991. Prior to this affiliation with the University of Nebraska, Kearney State was often informally referred to as “K State”, a nickname shared with Kansas State University.

University of Nebraska at Kearney

UNK Today

With over 11,000 students enrolled from more than 20 countries worldwide, UNK offers a diverse student body and an enriching learning experience. 

The university has achieved several nationally-recognized programs in areas such as nursing, engineering, and technology. In addition to its academic offerings, UNK also provides numerous opportunities for internships and study abroad experiences for its students, hoping to create responsible and cultural citizens. 

University of Nebraska at Kearney

University of Nebraska at Kearney Athletics: Go Lopers!

The athletic teams of the University of Nebraska at Kearney, known as the Nebraska–Kearney Lopers, represent the university in intercollegiate sports. They compete in the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) for the majority of their sports since the 2012–13 academic year. The women’s swimming and diving team competes in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).

The Lopers had previous stints in the D-II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) from 1994–95 to 2011–12, and in the Central States Intercollegiate Conference (CSIC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1976–77 to 1988–89.

UNK fields 17 intercollegiate varsity sports teams. Men participate in basketball, cross country, football, tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor), and wrestling. Women’s sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor), and volleyball.

Over a century since its inception, the University of Nebraska at Kearney remains a beacon of academic excellence and athletic prowess within the University of Nebraska system.

Each of these programs envisions and works to create a Division II athletic experience for every student-athlete without any discrimination. UNK Athletics stands in solidarity and unity with student-athletes of color, Latin and international students, LGBTQIA+ students, and students from other marginalized groups in opposition to racism and prejudice in any form. 

Hall Peterson

Peterson Hall, a former Loper from UNK, survived a near-fatal automobile accident in 2020; because of this, he had to spend 20 days in the hospital before starting months of intense physical therapy. 

This terrible accident was a heavy shock for him and his family, but thankfully, and with your help, the Nebraska Greats Foundation (NGF) assisted Hall with the insurance deductible.

Nebraska Greats Foundation 


The Nebraska Greats Foundation is dedicated to helping and celebrating student-athletes from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and other institutions who have contributed to our community. 

Since 2014, NGF has gathered donations and funds to help those athletes in medical need as a way to give back and recognize the tremendous effort these alumni and graduates pour into their everyday life.

If you are a current or former college athlete letter-winner and need medical or financial assistance, the Nebraska Greats Foundation is here to help you just like we’ve helped all of our recipients from all 16 colleges in Nebraska, including Wayne State College. CLICK HERE to apply for help and CLICK HERE to refer an athlete needing care so we can help.

Spotlight on NGF Board Member Mike McGlade

Spotlight on NGF Board Member Mike McGlade

Current associate Dean for Administration of Finance for UNMC, Mike McGlade is a former All-Conference OG for UNK from 1976-79. Those years, the ‘Lopers won four conference titles, qualified for the NAIA playoffs twice and finished each year in the national Top 10.

McGlade and wife Carol have two adult children, Jake and Maggie. Jake followed his father and played football at UNK.

As a senior administrator at Nebraska Medicine, the Covid-19 crisis has been front and center in your world. What’s it been like?

I now know what people mean when they compare a learning curve for something with drinking from a fire hose! Overall it has been an exciting challenge to assist Nebraska’s health science center lead all Nebraskan’s and others around the country and in some cases the world as we learn and deal with this pandemic.

How do you think Nebraska has fared through the Pandemic?

Overall Nebraskan’s either have been or will be directly impacted in one way or another by this Pandemic and in all those cases Nebraskan’s are stepping up and doing the right thing. I am very proud of how Nebraskans have responded.

Nebraskans should be excited about how UNMC and Nebraska Medicine has been the “go to place” for infectious diseases?

From early on late last Fall and early last Winter our infectious disease experts have been consulted by other experts around the world and have maintained a deep involvement in this Pandemic.

As leaders of the global response to Ebola a couple years ago we had a head start on dealing with an infectious disease outbreak and have kept up that leadership pace as we have responded to the Pandemic.

Talk about your football career at UNK.

I was very fortunate to play for great coaches that were more importantly also great men. They taught us football, but more importantly they taught us how to lead on and off the field as well as how to be a teammate.

What really puts a smile on my face is thinking about all the people I met while at Kearney. Some of the best friends I have today were my teammates at Kearney.

Talk about some of the great players you played with or against.

We were 33-5-2 in my years….one thing we all had in common was that we came from successful high school programs that we simply did not know how to lose.

We earned the opportunity to play in 2 national playoffs including our senior year during those 4 years. In the playoff game our senior year we faced a team from Oklahoma and that team had a running back and a defensive tackle both go on to play in the NFL. The other unique part of that Oklahoma team was that they had many transfers from the University of Oklahoma. In addition, while they were at the University of Oklahoma they were also members of the James Bond Club, which is players who had a grade point average of .007, (Ha!) We lost!

What lessons did you learn on the football field you’ve parlayed into your professional life?

Team work is fundamental to success. From the time I participated at UNK until now I have been part of many group/team efforts. When we work together we can accomplish what some say isn’t achievable.

Talk about why the NGF is an organization you want to be a part of.

In my short time with Nebraska Greats I have seen yet another example of team work by its’ board members and leadership. I love the mission which for my simple mind is to help others. Working as a team to identify those that need help and helping them will always put a smile on my face.

From The AD’s Office: Marc Bauer University of Nebraska Kearney

From The AD’s Office: Marc Bauer University of Nebraska Kearney

From The AD’s Office: Marc Bauer UNK

Marc Bauer is one of the most accomplished coaches and respected Athletic Directors in all of NCAA Division II. He continues to be the face and force of UNK Athletics. After a stellar career at UNO, he built a powerhouse wrestling program at UNK. He and his wife Beth (former wrestling cheerleader at KHS) are the parents of four children and three grandchildren.

You made your mark as an athlete wrestling. What factors got you into wrestling?

I would be the first to admit that wrestling did not come naturally to me. I started in 4th grade. My dad was a high school official, and he had taken me to a match in Junction City, KS. I only lost one match in middle school, but I did not love the sport by any means. I was 5’0 tall and weighed 100 pounds entering high school. I might as well have been one of the tackling dummies or the water boy because I wasn’t much good on the football field.

As a small boy, I was trying to find my place in a masculine world of sports. I accomplished more than I would have ever imagined in high school, setting my sights on competing collegiately.

The adjustment from high school to college was like nothing I had ever endured. You had one of two choices, adapt or die! With the support and help of my teammates, the guidance by Coach Mike Denney, (UNO) and moral support from my wife, I started to find some success.

Good people got me into wrestling, and they helped keep me there.

Athletes constantly refer to times of failure as the fuel they used to reach their goals. Did you have one, and what was it?

Setbacks and failures are part of athletics, and I accepted the fact that I was going to have to work hard.

I jokingly tell people, “I like exceeding others’ expectations.” Although I was not always the most skilled or blessed with God-given talent, I pushed myself harder and smarter to overcome obstacles.

After college, you admitted you were reluctant to get into coaching. But, you ultimately did. What changed your mind?

As an elementary education major and someone that had started a family early, I knew that my senior season would be the last time I competed and that I would turn my focus to my career in education.

In my second year of teaching I found myself facing an opportunity to help coach a 5-week Junior High season. Although I was not fully committed to coaching, I had the opportunity to coach my youngest brother, Joshua. When I went to college, he was seven and I thought this was a good way to get to know him better and help him succeed in wrestling.

I committed to coaching Josh’s middle school team for two years, and I enjoyed working with the kids. During the second year, the UNK coach, Jeff Cardwell, called and asked if I would join the staff. All I had to do was show up to practice and work with the kids. I fell in love with coaching. I enjoyed the freedom of collegiate athletics and having the opportunity to impact the lives of student-athletes during a very challenging time of life.

Working with Jeff as an assistant, I had gone back to school fulltime and earned my master’s degree. Upon graduation, I committed to working part-time for Kearney Public Schools as a PE specialist at one of the elementary schools. One week after I accepted the job, Jeff resigned and moved back to Oregon with his family. It was late in the school year, so I took over on an interim basis. For the next 14-years, I taught elementary PE and was the head wrestling coach at UNK.

How did you build such a successful wrestling program at UNK (National Championships) during an era of budget cuts and Title IX?

I started by doing the little things first. I worked hard to win people over in our building, on our campus, and in our community. That meant regular visits to the equipment room with a 24 pack of Mountain Dew and Loper wrestling apparel. I sent personal letters inviting professors, administrators, and alumni to our home events, with hopes of building relationships across campus and the community.

It was not until my third year that I got an assistant coach. We started and grew two prominent kid’s wrestling tournaments and a camp system that became the lifeblood of our program. We did not just host tournaments and camps we hosted events that drew people back yearly.

It was not anyone thing or one person behind the rise of our program. It took an army of people who were willing to invest their time and resources to help ensure our student-athletes were getting the best possible experience at UNK and as members of our community.

What is the future of college wrestling?

As an Olympic sport, which continues to excel on the world-level and with the growth of women’s wrestling worldwide, I believe the sport has been positioned to continue to be a viable option to attract enrollment in higher education and provide opportunities for kids (boys and girls) to get involved in a sport that best suits them.

Like coaching, you’ve admitted that being an athletic director wasn’t always on your radar, yet you became one.

What triggered your passion for that path?

In 2011, I attended the NWCA Leadership Academy. Although the program was intended for young and aspiring coaches, I was asked to participate in helping identify the strengths and weaknesses of the program. The following year, the NWCA President, Mike Moyer, inquired if I would consider being a mentor in the program.

I agreed, and for several years, I mentored young coaches. I enjoyed the role. In 2016, I resigned from coaching, knowing the program was in great hands with Dalton Jensen, to pursue my doctorate in Interdisciplinary Leadership from Creighton University and moved in the Kinesiology Sports Science Program at UNK. As a professor, I was teaching future physical education teachers, and I enjoyed that immensely.

I was in the right place at the right time, and the opportunity to lead the athletic department at UNK became a reality. Chancellor Kristensen was looking for someone to restore the position of athletic director to one of loyalty and openness while giving consistent attention to balancing the needs of our student-athletes within the practical situation of our resources.

What is the biggest challenge facing college athletics today?

Most recently, the biggest challenge is helping our student-athletes through the uncertainty and challenges they face with the COVID pandemic, political unrest, and racial tensions.

We have seen an overwhelming increase in mental health issues. Although we are working to provide the best possible experience for student-athletes at UNK, many factors weigh heavily on them. Student-athletes today are high functioning young adults who want to make a difference in a world that seems turned upside down right now. The recent NCAA Student-Athlete COVID-19 Well-being Survey completed by 37,600 student-athletes in May 2020 shows that a high majority of them are not doing well.

Moreover, technology increasingly isolates our students and compounds the issues further, such as feeling overwhelmed or viewing themselves as failures. We want our student-athletes to know that we care deeply for them and that we are here to support and help them get through these tough times.

How can the Nebraska Greats Foundation assist UNK in identifying former Lopers who may need assistance with medical issues?

The NGF has already had a tremendous impact on our campus. In July 2018, NGF helped Preston Hall’s family after Preston was in a life-threatening head-on car collision. NGF came alongside Preston’s family to help at a time when they were least expecting it, yet had a tremendous impact helping them through the financial challenges that they faced.

We are blessed to have an organization like the Nebraska Greats Foundation to assist current or former Nebraska college athletes. The best way to identify former Lopers who may need assistance with medical issues is to continue to spread the word about the amazing deeds of NGF. Such deeds are often the work of ordinary people coming alongside those in need. For some, it may be the miracle they need to help them shine once again.