Family and friends of the late Dr. Peter Neenan, BA’69, believe he was born with an unrelenting curiosity. His passion for learning and Catholic upbringing eventually led him to Creighton University, where he thrived and developed a sense of purpose that would last a lifetime.
“Peter constantly had his nose in a book, he always had ‘bigger’ thoughts than most of the rest of us,” Bob Bertrand, BS’69, classmate and lifelong friend of Neenan said. “Creighton and the Jesuits nurtured us in a lot of ways: our friendships, our minds, and how to use our interests and professional pursuits as a vehicle for service to others.”
After graduating from Creighton University College of Arts and Sciences, Neenan earned his master’s degree at the University of Iowa and was awarded a doctoral degree in library and information science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. A lifelong scholar, he taught at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts.
While teaching at Simmons College, Peter met and then married his late wife, Linda Fischer Neenan. The couple eventually moved to Saratoga Springs where Neenan served as the director of the New York State Department of Labor, Division of Research and Statistics until his retirement. Neenan died at age 72 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Before his passing in 2019, Neenan expressed his desire to support the University in a way that would allow students to experience all that his Jesuit-inspired education did for him. To honor her brother, Mary Jo Warnke established the Peter A. Neenan, Ph.D., Ignatian Merit Scholarship.
“It was paramount to me to fulfill his wish,” Warnke said. “Creighton helped Peter develop friendships and a depth of knowledge and deep love of learning that carried him through his academic career and professional life.
“I hope this gift not only eases the burden of cost to attend such a fine institution, but also allows another to experience the same Catholic, Jesuit education that Peter received.”
Creighton freshman Emily Payer, a 2020 graduate of Bishop Heelan Catholic High School in Sioux City, Iowa, says she is grateful to be awarded the Ignatian Merit Scholarship.
“It brings me a sense of pride to continue the legacy of Dr. Peter Neenan. I am honored to be given a chance to learn and grow at Creighton like he did. The academic standard the University has set forth is demanding, but that extra work makes me so excited for my future and the many things that I will be able to accomplish.”