Time out with T.O. - Turning a negative into a positive

In the world of public relations, whenever a negative situation occurs, the ultimate goal is to turn it into a positive.

It's a good starting point to tell the story of Jim Leuschen, husband of M. Patricia "Pat" Leuschen, Ph.D., assistant dean for research development in the School of Allied Health Professions (SAHP).

A legendary figure in Omaha PR, Jim Leuschen worked for Northwestern Bell for many years before he moved to Omaha Public Power District.

picture disc.
M. Patricia "Pat" Leuschen, Ph.D., has put the insurance money she received after her husband's tragic death toward an endowed chair in the School of Allied Health Professions.
If there was an important cause, Leuschen was your man. He got things done.

Fateful night

Rewind to Feb. 10, 1998. Jim had volunteered for a committee to explore the feasibility of building an archway over Interstate 80 near Kearney. The archway would be a tourist stop and provide an interactive history on Nebraska's early pioneers.

Late one evening as he returned to Omaha after an archway meeting in Kearney, he was struck by another vehicle and killed instantly. He was just three miles from home.

Married for 34 years, the Leuschens had four children and the grandchildren had already started coming. To say the least, the family's world had been turned upside down.

An opportunity

Fast forward to 2011. Pat Leuschen has been at UNMC for 31 years, including three years heading SAHP research.

She learns about a unique opportunity. For a gift of $100,000 to the University of Nebraska Foundation, the Charles R. O'Malley Charitable Trust Fund will make a matching gift of $150,000 to create a named professorship in the SAHP.

Honoring Jim

With the settlement money from Jim's death, Dr. Leuschen realizes she can make a donation that would benefit SAHP research for generations to come.

"It was a family decision -- education has always been a big deal for our family," she said. "It was Jim's money. Plus, as my son, James, put it: 'Mom, you've never been able to turn down a 70 percent sale.'"

Research to benefit

The M. Patricia and James W. Leuschen Professorship for Advancing Research in the Allied Health Sciences will provide research support for SAHP senior and junior faculty.

"This is a transformative gift for allied health," said Kyle Meyer, Ph.D., senior associate dean. "It demonstrates Pat's strong belief in the value of research and continues the Leuschen tradition of generous support for their community."

Somehow, Jim Leuschen is smiling. His wife obviously learned her PR lessons.


Fill out the following and your comment will post once it has been approved.

Thank you, your comment will appear below once it has been approved.

Ron Schaefer
January 13, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Having worked with Jim for several years at Northwestern Bell, I can only say that this is a wonderful tribute to a great guy. He was warm, caring, humorous and positive, a good sounding board and very generous with his time and wisdom. He'd love this.

Patricia Hageman
January 13, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Thanks Pat L for turning such a sad negative into a generous positive!

Hani Haider, PhD
January 13, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Having not been born in the United States, and still trying to understand how it ticks, I think these have been the kind of people who built America. This adds to what Dr. Pat Leuschen has been giving for years through her passion and hard work for UNMC.

Nicole Lindquist
January 13, 2012 at 8:47 AM

great story, TO. I was the recipient of a James Leuschen PR scholarship a couple years ago and couldn't have felt more honored. What a neat family. Thank you, Pat, for your generosity here at UNMC and beyond!

sue anson
January 13, 2012 at 7:29 AM

What a heartwarming story! Thank you for sharing, and for your dedication to education! It only strengthens our future!!

Rick Russell
January 13, 2012 at 7:02 AM

What a wonderful tribute to Jim. Jim and I worked on the Children's Museum in its early days and it might not have survived without his hard work and the support gained from other key members of the Omaha community.