Honoring Our Alumni

Honoring Our Alumni

The Alumni Achievement Citation is the most prestigious all-University award presented to 
Creighton alumni. The Alumni Merit Award recognizes outstanding 
Creighton alumni from each school and college.

By Nichole Jelinek, MA’15

Diane Morin Nelson, BA’67, a former first lady of Nebraska, was presented with the 2020 Alumni Achievement Citation, the highest all-University alumni award, at Creighton’s Evening of Honors on Feb. 7. The award recognizes exceptional women and men who demonstrate the Jesuit ideal of “women and men for and with others.”

Nelson graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1967. She says her experiences at Creighton developed her leadership skills and gave her the confidence to go out into the world and make a difference.  

“Creighton encouraged me to try new things and to get involved with my community,” says Nelson. “I learned there wasn’t a challenge I couldn’t take on. Every experience has strengthened my self-assurance and belief that I can make an impact.”

A passionate supporter of children, the arts and health care, Nelson has sought opportunities that allow her to fulfill her goals, inspired by the Jesuit mission to give back. She has served on a long list of boards, including those relating to the Omaha Symphony, Joslyn Art Museum, Clarkson Hospital, the Omaha Children’s Museum, Heartland Family Services and the Christian Urban Education Service, which provides students with instruction and family support in a faith-based environment.

Nelson and her husband, former Nebraska governor and former U.S. senator Ben Nelson, continue to dedicate their time to Nebraska’s children and communities. In 2016, Voices for Children in Nebraska named them an honorary family for their commitment to children’s health, safety and education.

A respected leader, guided by a strong faith, Diane Nelson has supported the Healing Arts program at the Buffett Cancer Center, and was the Circle of Red chair for Omaha’s 2018 Go Red for Women Expo, part of the American Heart Association’s campaign to fight heart disease and stroke in women.

Michael Yanney, chairman emeritus of the The Burlington Capital Group, has partnered with her on numerous projects, such as a daylong arts festival held at the Joslyn Art Museum for local artists to exhibit and sell their art.

“There’s one thing I know for certain,” says Yanney. “When Diane takes on any project, I know it will be done with excellence. And she knows how to motivate others along the way. That’s leadership.”

Nelson says she gets her energy and passion from the volunteers and mentors with whom she works, and from her mother, Mary Chambers Morin, who also found fulfillment through putting others first.

“She instilled in me a duty to give back,” says Nelson. “And if you see it at home, it becomes part of your development.”

Nelson established the Terrence Gleason Endowed Scholarship at Creighton to honor her late husband, J. Terrence Gleason, BSBA’66. Nelson’s father, Edward Morin Jr., BS’42, was also a Creighton graduate, earning a business degree in 1942.

“I chose Creighton to continue our family tradition and to be a part of the Jesuit tradition of excellent education,” says Nelson. “Creighton taught me to persevere. It’s important to me that future leaders can follow their dreams.”