Linda Burt, ’73, and Ralph Castner, ’85, became the latest inductees into the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Accountancy Hall of Fame at the Celebration of Excellence. Both received praise from members of the school, alumni and friends for their significant service and personal integrity during their professional accounting careers.
Dr. Aaron Crabtree, director of the School of Accountancy and associate professor, welcomed guests to the festivities at the Champions Club. He asked Sheri Andrews, ’76, a 2003 inductee into the Hall of Fame, to share her thoughts on the significance of the honor.
“It’s like getting an A+ or passing the CPA exam for the first time,” Andrews said. “However, getting inducted is even more special because this is something you accomplish that you can share with everybody. We are fortunate to have two inductees tonight who have had fabulous careers and done so much for the community.”
The presenters for both Burt and Castner emphasized their significant contributions to Nebraska business in their careers. Burt’s introduction came from John Fraser, retired president of the Nebraska Methodist Health System (NMHS), who inspired Burt to return to her home state after a career that took her to Illinois, Indiana and California. He needed Burt’s expertise when he became CEO of NMHS in 2007.
“Our financial system and support structure was 20 years behind the times,” Fraser said. “Linda became our CFO in 2008 and very quickly built an effective team around her. She rebuilt our financial structure brick-by-brick over five years, turning it into a state-of-the-art system. She was completely focused and self-directed. I told her to fix it and she got it done.”
Burt, who worked for more than 40 years in healthcare finance, was named to the 2015 edition of Becker’s Hospital Review
list of “150 Hospital and Health System CFOs to Know,” and as one of the “Top 130 Women Health System/Hospital Leaders to Know”. She credited the School of Accountancy with much of her success.
“I found my niche in the accounting classes here at Nebraska,” Burt said. “I liked the combination of math and logic I discovered. The education and confidence I received here launched me into the world of accounting and finance, and I’m thrilled to both be on the School of Accountancy Advisory Board and now in the Hall of Fame.”
Castner received his introduction from Rick Bettger, owner of Omaha Car Care. Bettger recalled Castner’s spirit of giving to help benefit others.
“Ralph is a fraternity brother and we have been close friends for 40 years,” Bettger said. “He is as loyal, giving and caring a person in the community and to his friends and family that I’ve ever met. He cares deeply about our state and university, and no matter what direction he chooses to go, he continues to impact everything we do here in Nebraska.”
Castner, president of Rush Creek Advisors, serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Business. He previously served as CFO for Bass Pro Shops and as chairman of the board of World’s Foremost Bank, a wholly-owned bank subsidiary of Cabela’s. Castner voiced his appreciation for the School of Accountancy faculty during his years as a student and for those currently teaching.
“We had outstanding faculty during my time at the school,” Castner said. “My business law professor Terry Shaw, in particular, utilized an unconventional teaching style I retained and used during my career. I can also tell you from having spent a fair amount of time with Aaron and at the school, that the faculty today is as good as it’s ever been. Another great aspect of the education at Nebraska is undergraduate students who push others to work harder and do better. I value my experience at both the School of Accountancy and the College of Business.”
In addition to honoring the newest members of the Hall of Fame, Crabtree also recognized retiring administrative assistant Marcia “Marci” Warner. He praised Warner for her strengths and service.
“Her strength of adaptability served us very well over her time here. She joined the School of Accountancy in 2010, so she’s been here during my entire tenure as director. She always greets you with a smile and helps everyone she can who comes to our office. She will be missed by both the School and especially by me,” said Crabtree.
School of Accountancy students also received recognition, as 125 undergraduates were awarded more than $185,000 in scholarships and 35 MPA students were awarded more than $85,000 in fellowships. The Celebration of Excellence was sponsored by BKD, Deloitte, KPMG, Labenz and Associates, RSM and Seim Johnson.