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Mallory Kountze: A Pioneer Builder of Bellevue University

Builders of Bellevue University: Across the Years and Generations

In celebration of Bellevue University’s 50th Anniversary, we take time to recognize the many individuals and organizations that have helped to build the University into Nebraska’s largest private college or university. Early in its history, Bellevue University received stalwart support and involvement from Mallory Kountze, a key Board member and philanthropist. His son Neely Kountze continues that legacy as President and Trustee of the Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation.

Mallory Kountze: A Pioneer Builder of Bellevue University

M Kountze AdditionIn 1969, the late Mallory Kountze became the first “non-founder” member of Bellevue College’s Board of Directors. He was one of several Omaha business leaders recruited to the Board in an effort to attract both students and support from the greater Omaha area. Kountze was a Trustee of the Omaha-based Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation, named for Omaha World-Herald newspaper founder and former U.S. Senator Gilbert M. Hitchcock.

According to Mallory Kountze’s son, Neely, current Hitchcock Foundation President, his father initially learned about Bellevue College from his longtime friend, Joe Dennis of Bellevue. “It was through that keen friendship that he came to know and love what was at the time Bellevue College,” Neely Kountze recalled. “Joe introduced dad to (Bellevue College President) Dick Winchell, who convinced him to get the Hitchcock Foundation involved through a key "loan" made to the school in the early 1970's.  That loan would be forgiven over a number of years at our Hitchcock annual meetings.  I was told that loan helped keep the doors open at the school at a time when there was not enough cash to pay the payroll taxes due.”

After joining the Board, Mallory Kountze immediately threw the Hitchcock Foundation’s support behind the College’s capital campaign, including the first large classroom building, the 20,000 square-foot Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Humanities Center. When a key donor withdrew pledge support for the $1.3 million project, Kountze encouraged the foundation to increase its support, which kept the project on track for completion in 1981.

Hitchcock Humanities Center SmallMallory Kountze died in 1984. In 1991, a major addition to the Hitchcock Humanities Center was named the Mallory Kountze Addition. The University’s Mallory Kountze Award is presented periodically to charitable foundations and corporate donors who have provided long-standing major support to Bellevue University.

Today, the Hitchcock Foundation, under the leadership of Neely Kountze, supports a variety of non-profit organizations in Nebraska and western Iowa, with special emphasis on the Greater Omaha-Council Bluffs area. In recent years, the Foundation has provided grant support to Bellevue University for the expansion of campus facilities and outreach initiatives that increase the impact and values that characterize the University’s Undergraduate Kirkpatrick Signature Series courses.

“At the Hitchcock Foundation we believe the Kirkpatrick Signature Series is very worthy of our support, and I personally look forward annually to attending the fall Signature Event speaker presentation,” Neely Kountze said. “I also feel the fact that the American Values courses are a requirement for every undergraduate degree candidate of Bellevue University is an excellent standard.  I only wish more universities and colleges would make the same commitment to teaching about the importance of democracy and free economies, and American values.  My father would be very proud to see these high standards upheld at Bellevue University.

“To this day, Bellevue University is our 2nd largest recipient of total Hitchcock Funds, with over $2.5 million Hitchcock dollars granted since 1970.  We continue to support Bellevue University because we see it as an outstanding investment,” Neely Kountze said.