September 1, 2014

Spat resolved, fundraising for UNMC cancer center moves forward (AUDIO)

Gov. Heineman, left, and NU President James Milliken speak with UNL students

The president of the University of Nebraska says private fund-raising for a proposed cancer center in Omaha is going well, after a public spat with the governor was resolved.

University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken says efforts to raise private funding for the $370 million dollar cancer center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha are going well.

“I’m pleased to report that the progress has been, I think, very impressive with the fundraising for the cancer center,” Milliken told reporters during a news conference at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Van Brunt Visitors Center to announce Collegebound Nebraska Week.

That, after Milliken and Gov. Dave Heineman patched up differences over how the center was to be financed.

Heineman had earlier criticized university officials, charging they had misrepresented how they planned to pay for the center. In particular, Heineman objected to officials seeking $40 million from the city of Omaha and Douglas County. He said that had not been part of the proposal outlined to him.

Milliken issued a statement saying that he had personally apologized to Heineman for any misunderstanding about the financing, an apology the governor accepted.

Heineman, appearing with Milliken in public for the first time since the exchange, played down the disagreement.

“I don’t want anybody to misconstrue a slight disagreement we had on that issue relative to all the issues that we’re moving forward together in partnership,” Heineman told reporters.

The state will contribute $50 million to match $60 million in private money to build the first phase of the project, a $110 million cancer research tower. The university plans to use $160 million from debt refinancing and to raise an additional $200 million in private funds to complete the financing of the project.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]