A friendship with Father Schlegel inspired education for all
A friendship with Father Schlegel inspired education for all

Mike, BSBA’78, JD’81, and Nancy Zoellner.

As a sophomore transfer student new to campus in 1975, Mike Zoellner, BSBA’78, JD’81, met a charismatic Jesuit priest with whom he had many shared interests. The two men became fast and lifelong friends.

“Meeting Father John (Schlegel) changed my life,” says Mike. “We laughed together and cried together. He married Nancy and me, he married all of our children, as well as my siblings. He buried my father.”

The late Rev. John Schlegel, SJ, (pictured right) served as Creighton’s 23rd president from 2000 to 2011. Fr. Schlegel believed that the essence of a Jesuit education is caring for our neighbors and communities. 

“Father John taught me so much, and Creighton instilled in me this sense of responsibility to make the world a better place and to make the best use of the gifts we have been given,” says Mike. 

Like Fr. Schlegel, Mike and Nancy believe in an education that puts students first. With their estate gift in support of the Zoellner Family Endowed Scholarship, the Zoellners will create a lasting impact through the formation of men and women as “whole persons,” and their legacy will live on through each student. 

“We want to make the Creighton experience accessible for every deserving individual who will serve as an agent of change in their communities,” says Mike. “College can have a profound impact on someone for the rest of their life. It absolutely happened for me.” 

Creighton University and the Jesuit community have been significant influences on the Zoellner family. Mike and Nancy assert they have always received more in return for their contributions and believe it is important to share their blessings. 

“Over the years we have had the wonderful pleasure of meeting several Jesuits who we call dear friends,” says Nancy. “I have personally gained so much from those friendships, from deepening my faith to looking at the world more openly and equitably.”

Mike and Nancy say they are grateful for these relationships and for the impact Creighton has made on their lives, as well as those of their children, Creighton graduates Sarah Zoellner Kottoor, BA’07, JD’11, and Michael Zoellner II, BSBA’09. 

“The University has given so much to those I love most,” says Nancy. “Sarah and Michael, as well as their spouses— who they met as students—all have had their character shaped by the Jesuit mission. I will forever be thankful for the education that Creighton has provided our entire family.” 

Mike and Nancy say they have been blessed in many ways and they believe Creighton can transform lives and the destiny of families. Their own experiences have inspired them to give back. 

“Education is the best investment you can make, and the University is a great partner for spreading and leveraging resources,” says Mike. “Together, we can make a profound impact.” 


At Creighton, we gratefully recognize those who give so generously to support the mission of our University. The Heritage Society pays tribute to those who share our founders’ vision by including Creighton in their estate plans. 

  • 813 Heritage Society members
  • 74 new Heritage Society members in FY19

“I’m always inspired by those who help students earn their Creighton degree. For some, it’s a way to give the opportunity they did not have, while others ‘pay it forward’ because of the support they received. Whatever their motivation, their generosity leaves a legacy to inspire students.”

— ROBERT SKRYDLAK, senior director of gift and estate planning. 


Read more about how generosity makes a difference at Creighton. 

An alumnus with a passion for palliative care

Creighton’s extended family is worldwide

Medical student finds his beat giving back 

Professor says success starts with serving others

Daughter inspires parents to pay it forward

Champions for Bluejays — on the court and beyond