Delivered September 11, 2012
Harvey Perlman, Chancellor
This has been a very good year for the university. Our students continue to demonstrate in a variety of national competitions that they can compete with students from any university. By way of illustration, last year our students received a prestigious Marshall Scholarship, nine Fulbrights resulting in UNL being named by the Fulbright Program as one of the "45 top producing" research institutions, 4 Gilman scholarships for study abroad, and four Goldwater scholarships -the most any single institution may receive.
Faculty accomplishments too can be highlighted only by illustration, such as John Hibbing's selection as a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Margaret Jacobs' receipt of a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, and Kwame Dawes award of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Our faculty demonstrate an extraordinary range of influence. Kwame's range extends from editing the Prairie Schooner to publishing a series of poems reflecting on the Olympics for the Wall Street Journal! And Susan Swearer has shared her expertise on bullying with both President and Michelle Obama at the White House and then with Lady Gaga.
We all know that our professional staff make invaluable contributions that allow the rest of us to succeed. They also enhance our reputation in their own right. Lola Young, who works in Housing, was elected president of the National Association of Educational Office Professionals at its convention last July.
We have also attracted new and talented administrative leadership to the campus. Chuck Hibbard returns to Nebraska from Purdue to become Dean of Cooperative Extension and Chuck O'Connor returns after a nine-year absence to become Dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts. Kim Wilson and Nancy Busch have assumed interim leadership roles in the College of Architecture and the University Libraries, respectively. And I know you all wait with anticipation to learn what Jim O'Hanlon will be doing next. This year he will assume yet another pinch-hit role as interim Dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications - the fourth College he has led. The university is particularly fortunate to have our current set of academic deans - a rare group of talented and collaborative academic leaders who accept the dual responsibility of advancing their colleges and advancing the long term interests of the institution. And under Diane Mendenhall's leadership our alumni association has become a true partner in working toward our goals.
The 2020 Report urged us to be part of the national and international conversation on issues of significance. The Daugherty Water for Food Institute held its fourth international conference in Lincoln last May and it is clear that this university is fast becoming the global focal point for the effort to provide more food with less water. In partnership with the Homestead Monument and the National Park Service, we held a major symposium celebrating the impact of landmark legislation, the Homestead Act, the Morrill Act, the Pacific Railroad Act, and the law creating the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Scholars in digital humanities from across the CIC institutions came together in Lincoln to compare their accomplishments and as one scholar from another CIC institution was heard to remark: "How did UNL get to be 15 years ahead of us." Life science scholars from most of our Big Ten colleagues engaged with our faculty in Lincoln. And this spring the first ever Conference on the Rural Future was convened in Lincoln with representatives from across the land-grant community and the world. Focusing on the Rural Future is a fitting start to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act and allows us to reenergize our role as a land grant university in the 21st century.
Our first year in the Big Ten was a success. In athletics we held our own and we won our share. Of course we are never satisfied with just our share. The new venues were interesting. For example, in Madison, in addition to the football game, the campus held, on the sidewalks of State Street, the 43rd annual conference on the use of medical marijuana. I hadn't realized how many students at Madison were so grievously ill.
Academically, we are leading the Big Ten and the CIC in several areas. In addition to our work in Digital Humanities, Dennis Molfese and our Center on Brain, Biology, and Behavior, now known as CB3, will lead a collaboration between the Big Ten and the Ivy League, to conduct an extensive study of concussion injuries in student athletes. CB3 is also part of a unique collaboration between an athletic department and an academic faculty along with the private sector to build a significant research enterprise, to be housed in the new East Stadium-one that will benefit not only student-athletes but also our broader understanding of human performance.
The state's investment of $25 million has significantly advanced Innovation Campus. After months of the planning necessary for a development of this kind, ground will be broken in September. In addition to the infrastructure necessary to sustain the development, a major complex of life science facilities, office space, and a conference center will start construction soon. While we do not have any private-sector tenants to announce, we are hopeful that will come soon. I will say our interactions with several multinational companies have been very positive in this regard. It is clear that one of our major opportunities is to promote the food, fuel, and water themes as we market Innovation Campus although I see other opportunities as well. There are a number of faculty-driven initiatives which may lead to opportunities with private sector partners in the years ahead.
We are also increasingly global in our reach. As the lead institution for the university system, we created an American Exchange Center in Xi'an with our partner Xi'an Jiaotong University. After the hard work of Professor David Lou to help put the Center together, Professor Ian Newman has agreed to serve as the center's director. This center will be the mirror image of the Confucius Institute in Lincoln, providing access to Chinese students to American activities and culture and providing a site from which our own students and faculty can engage in China. Our partnership degree programs in China continue to increase the number of Chinese undergraduates on our campus. Efforts in Brazil have made us the largest recipient of Brazilian undergraduate students under that country's new Science Without Borders program.
We have restructured our international program service units under David Wilson, our chief international officer, to provide better engagement with international students on our campus and to provide better service to our students and faculty going abroad. You will soon see a new office for Education Abroad more prominently located in the Student Union to further encourage our students to study in a foreign country. And I hope all faculty will take seriously the need to assure our curriculum properly prepares students for their global future. All of these accomplishments and the many others I have not mentioned help propel us toward our objective of being a prominent and respected land-grant and comprehensive research university, one that serves its students and its constituents and plays an important role in the state, the nation and the world.