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Five-Year Strategy Key Priorities

Introduction to the Five-Year Strategy Key Priorities

The University of Nebraska’s Five-Year Strategy articulates our priorities and offers specific targets against which to measure our progress. These priorities will be critical when it comes to defining the future of higher education. 

The Five-Year Strategy is built around several key principles: 

  • The value of higher education is clear and growing. Nebraska’s success is tied to that of its University.
  • Students come first. The University of Nebraska should be the best place in the country to be a student, providing high-quality, affordable, accessible education that prioritizes students’ mental and physical health and prepares them for post-graduation success.
  • Our people are our greatest asset. We will invest accordingly.
  • We have a responsibility to make the best use of every dollar Nebraskans entrust to us.
  • Themes of equity and inclusion touch everything we do. We will be a University for everyone—successful only when all voices are heard.
  • Nebraskans should know what to expect from their University. We must work every day to maintain the trust and confidence of the people of our state.

Accessible, Affordable and Attainable Education

The University of Nebraska was founded on the principle that higher education should be accessible to all, not just a privileged few. That principle is as important today as it was more than 150 years ago, with a college degree increasingly recognized as a vital pathway to individual and economic prosperity.

Nebraskans have a basic expectation of their University: That they can send their children to any of our campuses for an outstanding education, at an affordable cost, where they can graduate on time and prepared for success in life and work.

It is our highest priority to meet that fundamental expectation. Cost must not be a barrier for any qualified Nebraska student to attend the University. It is intentional that this broad theme comes first in our strategic plan. As we chart the path forward, the affordability, accessibility and quality of a University of Nebraska education will continue to be our North Star.

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Fulfilling Nebraska's Workforce Needs

Nebraska’s workforce needs are urgent and growing. The state will have more than 34,000 annual openings in high-skill, high-demand, high-wage (H3) jobs in the years ahead, and the needs exist across the entire state. Demand for more engineers, IT professionals, nurses, teachers, physician assistants, and other professions is acute. And of course, the University will lead in supporting the backbone of Nebraska’s workforce and economy, agriculture, by educating the next generation of farmers, ranchers, scientists, and others who will help feed an increasingly hungry world.

The future of higher education will be about pathways—to college, to relevant internships and academic experiences, to timely graduation, and finally, to great jobs here in Nebraska. That includes educating more of our own Nebraska students, as well as attracting new Nebraskans to our state to live, work, and raise their families.

With more skilled graduates, we’ll grow our economy, workforce, and strong communities across the state.

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Fostering an Inclusive Culture and Environment

A growing, thriving University of Nebraska depends on the voices, ideas, and success of all members of our community. We must be a University for everyone—a place where diverse backgrounds and ideas are welcomed and celebrated, where robust dialogue is encouraged, and where we are intentional and transparent in exploring how we can be a better place to learn, work, and study.

We will have a bias for action in evaluating and improving our culture. That will include honest assessments of our successes and areas for improvement. Where there are gaps—like that between UNL and UNMC faculty salaries and their peers, which has been a challenge for too long—we will put action plans in place to better support our talented faculty, staff, and students.

We have heard loud and clear from our University community that inclusive excellence must be among our highest priorities. Our students deserve to see themselves reflected in our classrooms, and all members of our community deserve to feel valued, welcomed, and safe.

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Amplifying Our Impact through Partnerships

In pursuing excellence in and outside the classroom, we acknowledge that we can’t be all things to all people. What we can do is identify a select number of areas where we can be the world leader. We will be disciplined in our investments and engagements, focusing on areas that matter to Nebraska and where we have deep expertise: Water and food security; infectious disease; rural community vitality; national and cyber security; and early childhood education.

Recognizing that we can’t be successful alone, we will invest our time in cultivating partnerships that will advance our work—between campuses, with donors and alumni, elected leaders, our higher education partners, and with all Nebraskans, who collectively are the single largest investor to the University of Nebraska every year.

We will make every decision with an eye toward building the trust and confidence of our most important partners, the people of Nebraska.

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Maximizing Efficiency and Effectiveness

In entrusting their precious resources to us, Nebraskans expect their University to operate with common sense and prudence. We won’t spend money we don’t have; we will take care of the resources we do have; and we will continually look for opportunities to become leaner, more effective, and more efficient.

Of particular importance is developing a long-term plan to maintain our capital assets, including the buildings where teaching and research take place, and the information technology infrastructure that supports virtually every aspect of the academic and business enterprises. Furthermore, knowing that sustainability is a high priority for our students and employees, we will create a University-wide plan for improvement—preserving both University and natural resources.

In all of this work, we will hold ourselves to a high standard of transparency, recognizing that we have a responsibility to demonstrate accountability to those who invest their resources in us.

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