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State of the University Address, 2009

SEPTEMBER 10, 2008

Harvey Perlman, Chancellor

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Let me now focus on the extraordinary opportunity we have to develop an Innovation Campus at State Fair Park. Innovation Campus is far more than a piece of land-it is an idea, an attitude, a catalyst that should alter the DNA of the entire University. This project is not only consistent with our 2020 vision, but is the natural culmination of that vision.

The idea is simple. A research university is key to progress and competitiveness in the 21st century. Our responsibility is clear: to be the source of talent and ideas that help address the challenges of the state and nation. The attitude is humble: to achieve these objectives as well as our own internal university aspirations, we will need partners. The collaborations that have been forged among our faculty to produce such an extraordinary growth in research must now be expanded with the private sector. Innovation Campus is premised on the importance of public-private partnerships - the expectation that the purpose of research is not only to satisfy our academic curiosity about the world but also to improve the human condition. Innovation Campus is the modern embodiment of the land-grant mission.

Through both its geography and its activities, Innovation Campus has the potential to transform the university. It is stunning how this piece of land connects in a physical way what we have come to call the city and east campuses. This is an opportunity to bring us together as a university. We should begin to think of Innovation Campus not as a third campus but as an opportunity to create an attitude and operating principle that we are a single university, one animated by our missions of teaching, research, and outreach, one driven by the opportunities of innovation and public-private partnerships, and one unified by our common aspiration to be a great public, land-grant, research university.

Innovation Campus will be open to opportunities presented from the full breadth of the university. However, the consultants developing a master plan and business plan for Innovation Campus have confirmed what we suspected - that life sciences research, primarily focused on food, energy, and water, is likely to be one of our key strengths in attracting private sector interest. Similarly a team of external academic reviewers who examined our efforts in molecular biology identified existing strengths but urged us to bring greater coordination to our programs across the university.