University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken today issued the following statement regarding the cancer center project at UNMC:
“The $370 million Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of the most ambitious and exciting initiatives with which the university has been involved. It will provide tremendous opportunities for cancer research and treatment for Nebraskans, as well as very significant economic opportunity in Omaha—including the creation of an estimated 1,200 permanent, high-paying local jobs. We are very appreciative of the support of the Legislature and the Governor in providing the initial funding and important start to this project.
“The proposed cancer center was first announced in January, and it was always envisioned as a public/private partnership. It is apparent, however, that our statements were not always clear or consistent, and I understand the Governor’s concern. Governor Heineman and I have had a close working relationship for years, and I have personally apologized to him for any misunderstanding.
“I think it’s important to note that the only part of the project addressed specifically in state legislation is the $110 million UNMC cancer research tower, which will be funded entirely by the $50 million state contribution and a $60 million private match. This aspect was the subject of much discussion with Chairman Heidemann and the Appropriations Committee and others. The fundraising for the additional $260 million began in earnest following the legislative session, and some aspects of it developed over time. For instance, as I have told the Governor, I am not aware that any discussions about a tax in Omaha took place until recently. In his report to the Board of Regents last week, Chancellor Maurer said that the city and county recognize the great value the cancer center brings to the Omaha metropolitan area and are interested in participating.
“This continues to be one of the most promising initiatives in our history, and I am truly excited about the potential for cancer research and treatment as well as significant economic development. I am gratified that the Governor has continued to state his support for the project.”