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Heider and Keough families support Creighton Hall’s “second completion”

Creighton Hall LightingOne of Creighton University’s oldest buildings got a much-awaited facelift this summer.

Members of two of Creighton’s most prominent alumni families provided the lead investments for significant exterior renovations of Creighton Hall, the first extensive updates in nine decades.

Gifts from Kathy Keough Soto BSN’75, and Gilbert Soto, BA’72, daughter and son-in-law of the late Donald and Marilyn Keough, along with the Charles and Mary Heider Foundation funded a new plaza and uplighting for the University’s most widely photographed academic building.

Kathy Keough Soto said her parents would be pleased their names are associated with Creighton Hall and the Keough Plaza. “Daddy was always very proud of his Creighton degree. I’m extremely proud of my nursing degree from Creighton,” she said. “We are strong, strong believers in Catholic education, and I’m pleased and grateful to Momma and Daddy that they gave us the wherewithal to do this. Gilbert and I are looking forward to seeing it.”

“The Heider and Keough families continue to enhance the lives of countless Creighton students through the Creighton Hall project,” said University President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD. “Longtime home to our Jesuit community, the hall is a symbol of our Catholic foundation established by our original founders, the Creighton family.”

Creighton Hall Lighting frontThe Heider family uplighting project showcases Creighton Hall and its 190-foot seamless façade of Bedford stone, featuring Creighton, Catholic and Nebraska emblems. Ninety-three energy-efficient LED lights, controlled by an automated system, will provide illumination based on the time of day, enhancing Creighton Hall’s beauty and improving safety around the landmark structure.

“This is a project that I know my father and Don would be very proud of,” said Scott C. Heider of Omaha, a member of the University Board of Trustees and leader of his family’s charitable foundation. “They both graduated from Creighton in 1949 and went onto great accomplishments. All through their lives, they never failed to remember their Jesuit educations received at Creighton University. They led their lives by example and the new plaza and uplighting will be a great reminder to us all.”

The Keough Family Plaza extends a pathway connecting Creighton’s main thoroughfare—24th Street—with St. John’s Church. As an active pedestrian corridor, Keough Plaza better accommodates people with disabilities and offers a signature space for outdoor activities.

Envisioned as the most active of Creighton’s primary pedestrian pathways, greenspace sectioned along Keough Plaza provides an inviting focal point at which students, faculty and alumni will participate in open air learning and socializing.

This latest iteration, or “second completion,” of Creighton Hall comes 142 years after its opening as an elementary school. As students rose through grade levels, the school began offering higher education courses, with the first college diplomas awarded in 1891.

At Sarah Emily Creighton’s request, a new Creighton Hall south wing, opened in 1889, increased space for the growing Jesuit community living there. New southwest and north wings opened in 1902, followed by the 1911 completion of a project extending 24th Street and a retaining wall, still maintained today.

Leo Daly Sr., designed the final major expansion of Creighton Hall, including an art deco façade along the south edge of the building and a new main entrance. The project added a 78-foot eastward extension to the south wing.

California Street, running in front of the building closed to traffic in 1978, and Deglman Circle was constructed. The Heider family provided funding for new Creighton Hall building doors in 2007.

Class of 1949 Contemporaries
Both Charles Heider and Don Keough arrived at Creighton via Iowa—from Carroll and Sioux City, respectively. Both graduated in 1949 and later became confidants to Omaha’s most famous resident, Warren Buffett.

Scott Heider of Omaha, a member of the University Board of Trustees and leader of his family’s charitable foundation, spearheaded the vision for the “second completion” of Creighton Hall. Scott’s parents, Mary and the late Charles Heider, are Creighton University’s largest benefactors. Charles Heider studied in the Creighton College of Commerce, earning a bachelor of science degree. He participated in the campus Chamber of Commerce.

In a financial career that spanned eight decades, Mr. Heider brokered Berkshire’s first insurance company acquisition. He rose to president of Omaha investment bank Chiles & Associates, which was renamed Chiles, Heider & Co. The firm was the first Omaha-based company to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

Creighton renamed its business school Heider College of Business in 2013 to honor the Heiders’ investments.

Kathy Keough Soto serves on her parents’ charitable foundation board and as an ex officio member of the Creighton College of Nursing Alumni Advisory Board. She and Gilbert live near Austin, Texas.

Don Keough earned a bachelor of science degree from Creighton College, where he participated in theatre and a new extracurricular activity at the time, television. President, chief operating officer and director of The Coca-Cola Company from 1981 to 1993, Mr. Keough later returned to Coca-Cola’s board. He was chairman of the investment banking firm Allen & Company as well as a director of Berkshire Hathaway.

In 1982, Mr. Keough accepted an honorary degree from the Creighton School of Law; in 2010 Mr. and Mrs. Heider received honorary degrees from the Creighton College of Arts and Sciences.


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