Knapps Believe in Bellevue University Students and Mission
Omahans Robert “Bob” Knapp Jr. and his wife, Susan, got involved with Bellevue University nearly a decade ago at the recommendation of his long-time friend, Michael Fuchs, a former member of the University Board of Directors. The Knapps have since become supporters and advocates for the University and sponsors of its fall Signature Event programs. “We have attended the Signature Event since the first one in 2009, and have told others about it, as well,” Bob Knapp said.
The annual Signature Events enable community leaders to meet and hear nationally known speakers discussing politics, business, history and the importance of America’s foundational values and principles like personal liberty, responsibility, and free-enterprise. The Signature Event program originated a decade ago as a way to raise the profile of Bellevue University’s required undergraduate Signature Series courses, which promote American vision and values and advocate active, informed citizenship. “I especially like that the Signature Series courses are a requirement,” Knapp said.
A fourth-generation family business leader, Knapp is the former President of Omaha Box Company, a manufacturing firm founded in 1890 and one of Omaha’s older companies. He sold the company to Minneapolis-based Liberty Diversified International in 2016.
Knapp, who studied business at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, remains active in a part-time consulting role at Omaha Box Company, which has a workforce of about 50. He is optimistic that having a more pro-business administration in Washington can help rein in unnecessary regulations. “You can deal with your employees and customers, but there’s not much you can do about regulations,” he said.
The Knapps are strong believers in the value and benefits of education. Susan taught third grade for a decade in the Omaha Public Schools. Last year, motivated in part by a challenge matching grant from the William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation, they made their initial contribution to Bellevue University’s American Dream Scholarships fund, which provides scholarship support for financially needy and underserved students in the Greater Omaha area, many who are the first in their families to attend college. Typical scholarship recipients include minority and low-income students, single parents, career-changers, community college transfer students, and working adult students. “We don’t have children ourselves, but we have the means to help others with college. These students are serious about their education, and this a way we can help them reach their goals,” Knapp said.
The University awards about $1.25 million in donor-funded scholarships a year and provides a variety of support systems such as career and academic coaching, and financial counseling, to help students succeed. About 1,000 students apply for scholarships annually, and approximately half receive scholarships.
Recently the Knapps names were added to the University’s Benefactors Wall of Recognition, located in the R. Joe Dennis Learning Center on the University’s main campus. The Wall formally acknowledges individual, corporate, and foundation donors that have provided six-figure or higher cumulative support benefiting the University, its students and mission.