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State of the University Address, 2006

SEPTEMBER 7, 2006

Harvey Perlman, Chancellor

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Let me turn to a heavily edited list of high points from last year.

-We were fortunate to convince Juan Franco of Utah State to succeed Jim Griesen as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Juan has quickly become engaged with the campus and his impact is already being felt. If Juan will stand, I hope you will join me in welcoming him to the university.

-There were those of you who didn't think we could top Tommy Lee, but we did when we hosted Warren Buffett and Bill Gates on campus, interacting with our students. And we initiate this year's Thompson Forum tomorrow with John Bolton, U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations. UNL is increasingly playing on the world stage.

-Last year our freshman class returned to its normal size after a precipitous downturn. Dean Alan Cerveny has built a passionate and professional recruiting staff and I have witnessed a renewed commitment on the part of faculty and staff. It has paid off. This year's freshmen enrollment is up a stunning 8.1 percent, or 289 additional students, and overall enrollment is up 2 percent, or 481 additional students. Even with these increases, our average ACT score remained at the highest point in history. When we opened the fall semester, domestic students of color comprised almost 9 percent of our undergraduate student body. This year's entering class is comprised of 10.6 percent students of color, an increase of almost 18 percent. Reports I receive from parents and others confirm that we have changed the previous perception that we were indifferent to students to one that more accurately reflects the welcoming institution and people we are. I am deeply grateful for all of your efforts.

-When Vice Chancellor Prem Paul joined the university he promised me that funded research would exceed $100 million in five years. He was right. In addition, total grant funding for all the missions of the university exceeded $165 million. This is a remarkable achievement by our faculty and staff across the breadth of disciplines. However, I know Prem well enough to know he will soon be setting even more ambitious goals that will require the best efforts from all of us.

-This year we entered a very unique partnership with the Nebraska Public Power District to create the Nebraska Center for Energy Science Research to conduct research at the university on alternative energy sources - a field in which Nebraska has a strong competitive advantage. The center, in turn, is part of a statewide initiative involving UNO, OPPD, LES, our federal congressional delegation, and state government. We should be, and we are, well positioned to make important contributions and I am pleased with the interest shown by the faculty and by the leadership of Ken Cassman as the director of the new center.

-We concluded a unique and historic agreement with Iowa State University to collaborate on providing a veterinary medicine degree program to Nebraska residents. Students will take their first two years in Nebraska and their second two years at Iowa State. Collaborations between institutions in our region will become increasingly important for us in the future.

-The adoption of LB 605 by the Legislature and the governor will permit the construction of a new physics building, the repair of the Sheldon Gallery, and the renovation of Animal Science and Keim Hall. These are all critical facilities. In addition, private donations will add the Ken Morrison Life Sciences Research facility for virology on the East Campus, a new home for the International Quilt Study Center, an expanded theater facility for the Johnny Carson School of Theater Arts, and a world-class research feed lot at our Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff.

-We should also be proud of our campus response to the disaster following Hurricane Katrina. We opened our doors to students and faculty from impacted institutions and our students, faculty and staff volunteered in a variety of ways to help with the cleanup and reconstruction of that area.

-My biggest disappointment last year occurred this summer when it was discovered that the costs associated with an on-campus day care facility exceeded our earlier estimates and available resources. I assure you that we have not given up on such a facility and we continue to explore additional options. The funding originally identified for that project will remain committed to its eventual construction. I believe we have some plausible options to consider.

From all respects it was a relatively quiet, but nonetheless remarkable year. Each and every one of you should be proud of what you have helped accomplished, whether you are one of the visible players receiving accolades, or whether you have provided support and encouragement to them, or whether you have otherwise quietly contributed to this great university.