State of the University Address 2010 - page 6

Harvey Perlman, Chancellor


As President Milliken has stated, the University of Nebraska aspires to be the best public land-grant university in the country as measured by our contributions to the people of Nebraska. This is an ambition we embrace. Our recent accomplishments on campus in undergraduate education where we educate the future leaders of Nebraska and in research, where we are building the foundation for economic growth for the innovation economy, help fulfill that ambition. More visible are the efforts we make to extend the university beyond its campus setting to interact and engage with the people of Nebraska.

In agriculture we bring the science of the classroom and the laboratory to the producers in the field to assist in their productive efficiency and prosperity. In multiple other ways units across the university have enhanced the economy and quality of life of Nebraskans throughout the state. We have some unique opportunities to provide additional content to our land-grant mission.

Innovation Campus clearly fits within this mission by leveraging our research capacity for the economic well-being of Nebraska. We continue to make progress in preparing the land for development and we continue to face the challenge of funding the critical initial infrastructure in order to allow the actual development to proceed. We have formed the Nebraska Innovation Campus Development Corporation and have attracted very engaged and expert board members from the private sector. We are hopeful the Board of Regents tomorrow will approve a master lease that will give NICDC the authority to develop the property.

I will also shortly announce the formation of the Innovation Campus Advisory Committee and other mechanisms that will facilitate the campus community advising both me and the NICDC Board on how we can better integrate Innovation Campus with our ongoing teaching and research activities.

From our interactions with private-sector companies, I remain highly optimistic that this project will succeed. We see potential for it contributing not only to economic growth in Lincoln but throughout the state. And it will inevitably open opportunities across the campus. We have additional opportunities relating to our work in agriculture. The Engler Entrepreneurship program provides us with a concept and the resources to make a real impact in sparking entrepreneurial activity among our students from rural Nebraska. Building on the work our 4-H program has begun, this is a program of immense significance. In addition, President Milliken recently conducted an external review of the university's rural initiative, and with Vice Chancellor Green's leadership, we have the opportunity to strengthen that program. The Global Water for Food Institute not only reflects our historic engagement with water resources, but also provides us access to the best thinking around the world, to address not only global but also local water issues.

Indeed, let me suggest that this university is poised to become a major player in one of the most critical issues of our times: the production of enough food to feed a hungry world. As we prepare for our picnic lunch this noon, there are over 1 billion people in the world going hungry. By the time my grandchildren turn 50, this number will double.

If we think that conflicts in the world associated with fossil fuels are complex, think of the desperation borne by the absence of food and drink. This goes beyond humanitarian concerns; it strikes at the heart of national security.

Food production should no longer be a subject of interest only to those on East Campus. Solving this world issue will require that all of us form a better understanding of how food is produced. It will require contributions from science, to be sure, but it will also engage the humanities and the social sciences. Our location, our history, and our new initiatives position us with enormous potential to make a difference here. There is every reason to believe the University of Nebraska should be one of the world's recognized leaders on this critical issue.

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