Rodney Bennett


University of Nebraska-Lincoln • 201 ADMS • Lincoln NE, 68588-0419 •

Rodney Bennett portrait
Rodney Bennett
photo available under CC BY-SA license.

Dr. Rodney D. Bennett began his work as the 21st chancellor of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nebraska’s flagship, Big Ten research institution on July 1, 2023. He is a 30-year veteran of higher education with a track record of growing research, increasing student success and building impactful partnerships.

In his first year as Chancellor, the University experienced rising retention and graduation rates, demonstrated positive signs related to enrollment, and expanded its research and creative activity efforts.

  • In Fall 2023, almost 4,700 first-time freshmen enrolled at UNL—an increase of 1.3 percent from 2022. 75.4 percent of those first-time freshmen are from Nebraska.
  • Spring 2024 overall enrollment reversed a trend of five straight years of spring enrollment declines.
  • Over the last five years, UNL retention from first to second year has increased 2.3 percentage points and four-year graduation rate has increased more than 8.5 percentage points.
  • In 2023, the university’s total research expenditures grew to $366 million, a 37 percent increase over the past decade. UNL has also experienced tremendous growth in externally sponsored federal funding, increasing to a record $163 million in 2023.

Chancellor Bennett came to Nebraska after nine years of successful leadership at the University of Southern Mississippi. During his tenure as president, USM was reclassified from a Carnegie R2 to an R1 university, signaling growth in research prestige and funding. Dr. Bennett also invested in programs to support student recruitment, retention and outcomes, including for the 30 percent of USM students who were first-generation. His efforts led to an improvement in the university’s six-year graduation rate.

Prior to his role at the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Bennett served at the University of Georgia for more than a decade. He was the senior administrator for student programs and services for Georgia’s 34,000-plus students; oversaw $150 million in capital projects; and made key staff and programmatic investments in extracurriculars, mental health programs and other areas to better support students.

Dr. Bennett has also been the dean of students at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and associate dean of student life at Middle Tennessee State University.

Chancellor Bennett values community leadership and service. He has served on numerous boards, including the Mississippi Aquarium, Northeast Georgia Girl Scouts of America, Catholic Health East (Philadelphia), and St. Mary’s Health Care System in Athens, Georgia. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and Past Sire Archon for Sigma Pi Phi fraternity, The Boulé.

Dr. Bennett earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, a master’s degree in educational administration, and an education specialist degree from Middle Tennessee State. He earned his Doctor of Education degree from Tennessee State University.

He and his wife, Temple, are the parents of two adult daughters, Colby and Logan.

« Office of the Chancellor Page

The content of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts).