Dear UNL Faculty
Thank you! I have been so humbled and proud this semester as I witnessed you take on the herculean task of moving nearly our entire academic enterprise to one of remote learning — in a matter of two weeks. We accomplished this feat as smoothly and successfully as any institution in the nation – and that is thanks to you.
Last Saturday, we granted nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate, professional and doctoral degrees. We all wish we could have celebrated these achievements in person, especially those with the close mentorship of students receiving post-graduate degrees. Yet given these unprecedented times, having a near-record number of Huskers receive their degrees was a moment of pride for the institution, our graduates and everyone involved. The success of these students is a testament to your perseverance, flexibility, instruction, empathy and guidance.
As you know, we are continuing remote learning over the summer. I appreciate all of you who came forward to offer additional course offerings. More than 100 proposals for innovative new courses were submitted. Our students are taking advantage of the opportunity to continue their academic engagement over the summer — as enrollment is currently up around 20 percent!
As we prepare for the fall, we are committed to safely providing in-person opportunities again to our students. Nothing will be “the same” as before the COVID-19 pandemic, but I’ve heard from many of you on the importance of having an in-person education component. Our students are eager to again engage with you, when possible, in an in-person classroom or research setting.
We care about your safety, and this overarching priority is guiding our preparations for our “next normal” in the fall. While I can't predict exactly what fall will look like, I do know that our community is poised to enact the guiding principle of N2025 — "to value one-on-one relationships to form connections, transform lives, and realize the power of every person."
A large group of faculty, staff, students, facilities teams and leadership across our institution are working diligently to figure this out. And I know that you, the ones doing the instruction and research, will be working hard to adapt to the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
We know that you need guidance, sooner rather than later. I am very sympathetic to that need. We are working through issues now such as possible shifts to the academic calendar, the density of people on our campus, social distancing in classrooms and research settings, testing protocols, health and safety messaging and requirements for personal protection. As soon as we have guidance to share in these key areas we will do so and will continue to provide updates over the summer.
Again, thank you. The reason I am confident that we will figure out how to be successful this fall is because I am confident in you. I am energized and buoyed by the commitment and dedication I see daily from faculty, staff and students to be creative, compassionate, think outside of the box, to reimagine what teaching and learning might look like, and to learn from this moment how we might better realize our land-grant mission as a research university.
Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.