Alice Dittman, ’52 & ’55, shattered glass ceilings while paving the way for women in banking, business and beyond. She passed away Sept. 27, 2023, at the age of 92.
Taking the helm of Cornhusker Bank in 1975, Dittman became the first woman to serve as a bank president in Lincoln and Omaha, growing the bank from $8 million to nearly $236 million. She started at the bank in 1948, holding a variety of roles in maintenance, president and CEO, chairman of the board and chairman emeritus.
“Alice made a tremendous impact in the banking world and in the Nebraska Business community. What I will remember most is her generosity. One example is the micro-lending program for entrepreneurs she started to provide a hand up, not a handout, for entrepreneurs in our community, and later, she established the Alice M. Dittman College of Business Fund for Excellence to do the same at Nebraska,” said Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean and professor of finance.
A pioneer in business, Dittman also became the first woman to chair the Bryan Hospital Board of Directors in 1982, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce in 1988, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce in 1992 and the Community Bankers Council in 1997. She also was the first woman named president of the Nebraska Bankers Association in 1993.
“I sold pop door-to-door when I was 5 years old out of a little wagon, and that turned out quite well. Opportunities have multiplied for women since those days,” she said in 2018. “I never thought about being first, I just did it. I’d walk into a room full of men, say ‘Hi,’ and put my hand out. I always did my homework and arrived prepared. A strong work ethic is part of anyone’s success.”
She personally pledged $1 million to fund loans through a program named Alice’s Integrity Loan Fund, administered by the Lincoln Community Foundation. Inducted into the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame in 1996, she retired from the bank’s Board of Directors in 2013 and received the Lincoln Journal Star Inspire Woman of the Year Award in 2019.
Angie Muhlheisen, president and CEO of Union Bank & Trust and the 2022 Inspire Woman of the Year, said, "Alice took time to serve on boards, mentor women, give generously to charities, and she did all of that while being a devoted mother and wife."
Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to George and Cecil Frampton on October 1, 1930, Alice married Marcus W. Dittman in 1954 at Saint Paul United Methodist Church. They had three children John, Dawn and Doug.
A 1948 Lincoln High School graduate, Alice earned two business degrees from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln because she “knew management would make small banks more successful and better than anyone else,” she shared in an interview in 2018.
"Getting my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln was a great experience for me, and I spent one year at the Harvard-Radcliffe Post Graduate Program. It led to an amazing career in banking, and I believe being a woman helped me accomplish that," said Alice.
A member of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority in college, Alice fondly recalled riding her bike through the university campus as a child, “checking out the new additions” like Mueller Tower. While in college, she realized those campus updates were made possible through the generosity of others.
"Alice was a pioneer in business and in banking. The way she so generously gave back to the community, her employees and customers, and our alma mater at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is what I will always remember about her," said Jenni Christiansen, '95, senior vice president at Wells Fargo.
In 2020, Georgia, ’72, and Jim Thompson of Minnetonka, Minnesota, provided a matching gift to help create endowed chairs for business faculty. The Dittman family and Cornhusker Bank honored Alice by establishing an endowed chair in her name.
“If you don’t give back, you certainly aren’t showing appreciation. People helped me throughout my life. This endowed chair is another way of saying thanks for the memories,” Alice said.
As the first woman to lead so many areas of business, Alice passed forward one last first with the awarding of her chair last spring. Stanislava (Stas) Nikolova became the college's first Alice M. Dittman Chair of Banking and Finance.
Celebration of Life and Memorials
Alice is survived by daughter Dawn and Jim Coronado of Austin, Texas; son John and Susan Dittman of Lincoln; son Doug and Carla Dittman of Raymond, Nebraska; grandchildren Carson Coronado, Mark, Allison, Grant, Gregory, Andreas, and Nelson and Jessica Dittman; and nephew George and Sue Frampton of Ankeny, Iowa. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, brother Robert E. Frampton, and sisters-in-law Betty J. Frampton and Eloise Cram Frampton.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12, at Saint Paul United Methodist Church, 1144 M Street in Lincoln, with a reception and light meal following at the church and a private prior burial at Wyuka Cemetery. A visitation will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at Roper & Sons South Lincoln Chapel, 3950 Hohensee Drive.
Memorials may be directed to Saint Paul United Methodist Church Memorial Fund or the University of Nebraska Foundation to benefit the Alice M. Dittman College of Business Fund for Excellence. Condolences can be shared online at Roperandsons.com.
Published: October 2, 2023