The March Scottish Rite Lodge dinner and meeting was an auspicious occasion. After more than a year, the UNMC Scottish Rite Foundation of Nebraska Professorship in Speech-Language Pathology was fully endowed, with more than $515,000 donated toward a professorship. Interest income will fund the professorship in perpetuity. Dr Amy Nordness, Director of the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute’s RiteCare program, was named the first Scottish Rite Professor.
Dr. Karoly Mirnics, Director of the Munroe-Meyer Institute (MMI), joined Scottish Rite Masons to make the announcement with Charles V. Sederstrom, Jr., 33°, SGIG in Nebraska. This professorship, Dr. Mirnics said, allows MMI to grow and brings national attention to the Institute, helping with future recruitment and faculty retention, attracting the best and brightest to the UNMC community. And as important, being named as the endowed professor represents a lifetime of exceptional achievement. In that respect, as Dr. Mirnics seeks to expand MMI’s role, he applauded Dr. Nordness’s “entrepreneurial spirit.” “If you let her do her job, she does amazing things,” he said. She has doubled the size of her department, taking on all of Nebraska Medicine’s speech contracts. As MMI reorganizes in time to move into a new building on the AkSarBen campus by 2020, Dr. Nordness will take on new roles, including growing and expanding services such as helping non-verbal children adapt technologies which allow them to write using their eyes.
Dr. Nordness thanked Scottish Rite Masons for their genuine support of children of all abilities, for a 40 year commitment to speech pathology, supporting therapy for kids who might otherwise not receive services, and to the speech therapists who receive funding and continuing education. As the Scottish Rite Professor, she will strive to higher levels of excellence in these areas.
The road to the professorship began years before when the Scottish Rite Foundation of Omaha began donating $10,000 toward a professorship at MMI. Without an actual Speech Pathology Professor for several years, the fund grew. In 2016, Dr. Karoly made an offer we couldn’t refuse - if the Scottish Rite Foundation would support the cost of the professorship with our quarterly donations to MMI, he would find alternative funding for the RiteCare operations for a year. This allowed the fund to be fully endowed in a year.
As Dr. Mirnics said, “[the Scottish Rite Masons] allows kids to lead fulfilling lives. We do this over and over again for thousands of kids. Thank you for caring for those without a strong voice.”