A Big Year for Our University

Chancellor's Messages

Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.

A Big Year for Our University

Yesterday was a great day of celebration of those who have given so much to our university! It was an honor to recognize 4 individuals who have been at UNL for 50 years and 969 total people in our community for their years of service. Collectively, a total of 15,115 years of service were recognized across our faculty and staff.

This is proving to be an incredibly exciting year for our university.

New Corporate Partnership for Nebraska Engineering

On Monday, we announced a major naming gift for the new Kiewit Hall at Nebraska Engineering. Peter Kiewit Sons’, Inc. is giving $20 million for the building, which will be named Kiewit Hall. Bruce Grewcock, CEO of Kiewit, noted their support goes beyond a building and reflects their commitment to “strategic efforts to grow UNL’s engineering program to be one of the best in the country.”

The powerful combination of UNL and Kiewit, one of North America’s largest and most respected engineering and construction companies, will certainly boost our presence in the highly competitive field of Big Ten Engineering colleges. Ground will break soon on the first phase of expansion for the College – 71,000 renovated square feet of space in the Walter Scott Engineering Center and 91,000 square feet for a new building to replace the Link. This $75 million partnership with the State of Nebraska will be home to more than 50 advanced labs and new department offices for Civil & Environmental Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering. With the expected $85 million in private support for Kiewit Hall, we are investing a combined $160 million into growing the college over the next four years.

Growing the impact of Nebraska Engineering is the top priority for the University of Nebraska. Interim NU President Susan Fritz said at the press conference, Engineering “is at the top of the list.” We are making great strides under the strong leadership of Dean Pérez, and I am tremendously excited about the trajectory of this program.

Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts

I only wish Johnny Carson were alive to see the opening of our new Center for Emerging Media Arts that bears his name. Visionary Director Megan Elliot opened the doors to the “wizards and pirates and magicians of the world” on August 26.

The Center has already earned a Hewlett Packard/Educause Campus of the Future designation, the first program in the Big Ten to do so. This partnership with a Fortune 100, global corporation will give Nebraska access to the latest high-tech equipment – and puts us in the company of MIT, Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth in investigating ways augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 3D scanning and printing technologies can benefit teaching, learning and research.

Our vision is that the Center becomes a destination for transformative creative leaders – the best and brightest students, faculty, visiting artists, entrepreneurs and scientists from around the world. And when our students graduate, that they will re-imagine the future with their skills in design, storytelling, computational creativity and entrepreneurship.

New Teacher Scholars Academy

This fall, a cohort of 40 students joined the inaugural class of our new Teacher Scholars Academy. The academy aims to expose future teachers to Nebraska’s schools, communities and changing demographics through experiential learning opportunities. Scholars will become innovative practitioners, ready to empower communities. It was funded by a donation from the William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation to grow the teacher workforce in Nebraska.

It is exciting to see this program launched and the impact it will have on meeting the education needs of our state and others. In addition to their classwork, the students will gain experience with service and volunteer opportunities in the Lincoln community, be able to conduct research and live together as a cohort during the first year. They will also take part in the Teacher Scholars Academy Seminar course, designed to teach them about characteristics and qualities that make successful educators.

N2025 Strategic Plan

This week, we began to share the N2025 Strategic Plan with the campus for feedback. The co-chairs of this effort and the campus steering committee have done an incredible job of building on the work of the Nebraska 150 Commission and developing concrete aspirations for our university for the next 5 years.

The vision in the N150 Commission report was a clarion call for us to be a transformative, world-leading, 21st-century mission-integrated, land-grant university without walls. The draft of this strategic plan, with its theme that “Every Person and Interaction Matters,” moves us down that path and I am very much looking forward to the feedback and dialogue from our campus community.

I want to thank our faculty co-chairs for their extraordinary efforts: Rick Bevins, chair and professor of psychology; Shane Farritor, professor of mechanical and materials engineering; Angela Pannier, professor of biological systems engineering; and Sue Sheridan, director of the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools, and a professor of educational psychology.

New Incentive-Based Budget Model

I want to thank all of you who participated in the campus sessions on our efforts to redesign our funding allocation process and move to a hybrid-Responsibility Center Management budget model. Over the past several months, Dean Kathy Farrell, Vice Chancellor Bill Nunez, and a steering committee have been diligently gathering data and laying the groundwork for UNL’s future incentive-based budget.

We have settled on an interim model and will begin to shadow it during the current fiscal year for implementation beginning July 2020. This effort will empower growth and opportunity, and incentivize forward-thinking. I consider it to be one of the highest short-term priorities of the university.

Nebraska on the Move

  • I was especially proud to again have a record number of graduates receive their UNL degrees last year – 5,775 new Huskers were added to our alumni ranks, surpassing last year’s previous record of 5,448.
  • Total research expenditures again increased, to $308 million for FY2018. Our total sponsored research awards in FY2019 totaled $165 million, a 14% increase from the previous fiscal year and a 35% increase over the past decade.
  • This summer, the College of Law ranked 6th out of 201 law schools nationwide in job placement, with 94% of its graduates getting placed in a job within 10 months of graduation.
  • This fall, the College of Arts and Sciences launched a new program called CAS Inquire for students who want to dive deep into society’s emerging topics with thought leaders and peers through specialized courses and other components.
  • Every year, architecture students help shape new spaces in a Nebraska community through a design/build project, this year creating a new interior facility at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha and designing the Santee Sioux Nation Family Resource Center in Niobrara.
  • The Business Career Center within our College of Business was named one of three winners of the Career Leadership Collective's national Career Innovation Showcase for its innovative peer coach initiative.
  • Agricultural engineering students on the Husker Quarter-Scale Tractor Team took top honors at the International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design competition in June.
  • The College of Journalism and Mass Communications this fall launched its new common core, reflecting the need for students to experience further integration of news and strategic communication.

Thank you for what you do each and every day to propel this great university forward; for the groundbreaking research and the transformative education you provide to our students. Over the last 150 years, our nearly 300,000 alumni have been making an impact and changing the world. And we’re just getting started.