A $2 million gift from the Holland Foundation to the University of Nebraska will establish an endowed fund for the Buffett Early Childhood Institute's work to study early childhood care and education.

The gift creates the Richard D. Holland Presidential Chair in Early Childhood Development, which will be held by Samuel J. Meisels, a national leader in early childhood research and the executive director of the institute.

Given in the name of Dick Holland, an Omaha philanthropist interested in children, education, the arts, medicine and the environment, the endowed fund will also help the institute's public outreach and education efforts, NU said in a release.

NU President Hank Bounds said the gift is a fitting tribute to Holland — "a true champion for children and families" — while Meisels called Holland "a visionary leader, a true humanitarian and a dear friend."

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"His passion for creating opportunities for all children was inspiring," Meisels said. "His philanthropy changed Omaha, our state, and the University of Nebraska for the better."

The Holland Foundation has supported numerous initiatives benefiting children, including the Child Saving Institute, Completely Kids, Partnership 4 Kids and the NorthStar Foundation, while also creating the Holland Children's Institute and Holland Children's Movement.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.

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