To the University of Nebraska-Lincoln community of students, faculty and staff:
I am excited to welcome everyone back to campus as we launch a new semester in a new year. I hope each one of you had quality time for rest, reflection and celebration during the holiday break.
Even as 2017 was a year overflowing at times with great challenges and uneasiness that often accompanies disruptive change, I feel a deep and heightened sense of optimism and joy as we embark upon 2018. We are all so blessed to be part of Nebraska’s extraordinary flagship, land-grant university with far-reaching and ever-increasing influence. I challenge us all to reaffirm our unity of purpose and to keep our eyes upon our true mission: to teach, learn, and discover in all disciplines and at all levels of study with the highest qualities of excellence; and to serve our state, the nation and the world.
This mission has never been more important as the University of Nebraska approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019. We will begin celebrating that milestone this summer with the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year.
Several things happened as 2017 drew to a close that reminded me of the importance of what we do here each and every day.
I watched nearly 1,500 of our newest alumni graduate with their degrees, many of them the first in their families to do so.
I read our annual research report and was inspired by the breadth and depth of expertise, dedication and commitment to a better future of our world-class faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and extension educators.
I saw our phenomenal women’s volleyball team live out its motto — “with each other, for each other”— as it clinched a national championship in Kansas City. And I witnessed Husker Nation’s renewed eagerness for the next football season as our new athletic director, Bill Moos, brought former national championship quarterback Scott Frost back home as our head football coach.
More great things are in store for the 2018 year ahead:
We will continue to set new records for student enrollment, graduation rates and research expenditures, while increasing our contributions to Nebraska’s economic development and vitality.
We will lead the nation in our discussion on freedom of expression, academic freedom, and diversity and inclusion.
We will complete a strategic plan through 2025, to be formally launched with our 150th birthday in February 2019
We will finish assembling our senior leadership team, filling key vacancies at vice chancellor for research and economic development; vice chancellor for student affairs; and deans of engineering, education and human sciences, graduate studies, and agricultural sciences and natural resources.
We will complete phase I improvements of the Memorial Mall historic space east of Memorial Stadium; open a new student health center and UNMC nursing education facility on the east side of City Campus; and complete the first part of phase 2 construction of the Nebraska Innovation Campus.
We will launch fundraising campaigns to expand the College of Engineering and to establish a new Nebraska honors academy. We will complete campaigns for a student learning commons at C.Y. Thompson Library on East Campus and for the Nebraska Food for Health Center.
As we enter this year and approach the launch of our second 150-year period of serving Nebraska, I encourage us all to aspire to Coach Frost’s words of this past month, “to pursue our mission with renewed unity of purpose."
I wish you all the very best for the semester ahead across the University. “Dream big, work hard, and stay humble”… the late Sam Foltz’ words remind me every day that, indeed, there is no place like N-E-B-R-A-S-K-A.
Treat every day like a gift, do great things and Go Big Red!