Board of Regents
James B. Milliken
Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska
Report from the July 2013 meeting of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.
University of Nebraska Online Worldwide continues significant growth
The University of Nebraska is continuing to significantly expand its online learning initiatives, developing new strategies to meet the educational needs of students in Nebraska and beyond, according to a report presented to Board of Regents during its July meeting.
Growth in the university’s distance education efforts spans several key areas:
“The University of Nebraska has been engaged in distance learning for more than a century, and we are continuing to build on that rich tradition today with new strategies that are leveraging technology to serve many more students,” said NU President James B. Milliken. “This is part of our responsibility as a 21st-century land-grant university and it is what our Board, policymakers and Nebraskans expect of us. I am very pleased with our growth in distance education and look forward to continued progress in meeting the educational needs of Nebraskans and others.”
In a presentation to the Board, Mary Niemiec, associate vice president for distance education and director of University of Nebraska Online Worldwide, said that credit hours generated by distance-only students – a key metric monitored by the Board – grew 12 percent, to 57,000 in 2012-13. Each of the campuses saw growth in distance-only credit hours.
About two-thirds of distance-only credit hours are generated by Nebraskans, Niemiec said, demonstrating that Online Worldwide is meeting the needs of Nebraskans, including the approximately 290,000 individuals in the state who have completed some but have not earned a degree.
Total distance education credit hours grew 16 percent, to almost 130,000.
About half of all NU degree-seeking students took at least one course online in 2012-13 – an indication that students consider online courses an important part of their educational experience and that the university must continue to strategically integrate distance learning opportunities throughout the education continuum.
The university announced its intention to partner with Coursera in May. While the partnership provides exciting opportunities for faculty to explore new technologies that benefit students and to collaborate with colleagues at other institutions, the level of the university’s participation in MOOCs – including details like what course content might be offered and when it might become available – will be determined by the campuses.
Board approves Husker soccer, tennis complex
The Husker soccer and tennis teams soon will have new homes thanks to the Board of Regents’ approval of a new athletic complex to be built at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The $20.4 million Nebraska Soccer and Tennis Complex will be located on 28 acres on the former State Fair campground and adjacent to Nebraska Innovation Campus. The complex will be built with private donations.
“This will benefit our student-athletes and will make good use of a piece of land that was otherwise not practical to be developed for Innovation Campus because of the floodplain,” UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said. “It also provides a much better vista for those on Innovation Campus than the existing landscape, so it is a win for everyone.”
The new soccer facilities will include one outdoor, lighted, full-sized competition field with seating for about 2,500 spectators. Facilities for tennis will include 12 lighted outdoor courts and six indoor courts with a combined total of 1,400 spectator seats. With minor renovations, the former campground shower house will be repurposed into mechanical space and equipment storage for the soccer field maintenance and ticket windows. About 600 to 800 surface parking lots will be constructed on the site.
Additionally, a 73,900-square-foot support facility will include:
“This soccer and tennis facility project will provide much-needed on-campus practice and competition facilities for our women’s soccer and men’s and women’s tennis programs,” Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst said. “It will immediately improve the practice and game-day experience for our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans. Furthermore, the new facilities will assist each program in recruiting the nation’s best and brightest prospective student-athletes to the University of Nebraska.”
Construction on the complex will begin in May 2014. The soccer fields could be completed in time for competition in fall 2014. The remaining facilities will be ready for the outdoor tennis season in 2015.
When completed, the new facilities will rank among the best in the Big Ten. The Nebraska soccer team previously has practiced and competed on the smallest competition field in the Big Ten and the only field in the conference without lights. The tennis teams’ facilities, meanwhile, lack dedicated locker rooms. The new complex will maximize student-athletes’ and coaches’ time and will enhance training, competition, recruiting and fan amenities.
Regents OK new supercomputer at Holland Computing Center
The Board of Regents has approved the purchase of a new supercomputer for the Holland Computing Center in Omaha. The supercomputer will more than double the currently available computing power for NU researchers involved in scientific computing and data-intensive activity such as nanoscience, bioinformatics, digital humanities and fine arts. The supercomputer was last upgraded in 2011.
The Holland Computing Center is a university-wide resource that allows faculty to perform complex computer simulations that are vital to research in a wide range of disciplines. Without adequate capacity on campus, researchers must compete with those from other institutions for time on the national academic computing grid.
During During its July meeting, the Board of Regents approved:
The Board of Regents is guided by a Strategic Framework that lays out specific, measurable goals in key areas such as affordability, enrollment, graduation rates, research, engagement with the citizens of Nebraska, and cost-effectiveness. The university regularly reports its progress in each of these areas to the Board; the detailed metrics and the university’s updated progress reports are available here.