Past Presidents

Dr. James Linder (Interim President): 2014—2015

Dr. James Linder
Dr. James Linder served as interim president of the University of Nebraska from 2014-2015. While interim president, he also served as president of the University Technology Development Corp. (UTDC). Previous roles included CEO of UNeMed Corp—the technology transfer arm of the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC)—and a number of administrative positions at UNMC, including interim dean of the College of Medicine, and associate vice chancellor for research. During Linder’s tenure, he expanded University-wide institutes, oversaw completion of a major university fundraising campaign and advanced the momentum of the university before transferring leadership to Hank M. Bounds, Ph.D., in April 2015.


James B. Milliken: 2004-2014

James B. Milliken was the first native Nebraskan and first University of Nebraska graduate to be named president of the university, a position he held from August 1, 2004, to May 2, 2014. He resigned to become chancellor of The City University of New York, the nation’s leading urban public university system. Milliken’s nearly 10-year tenure at NU was marked by unprecedented success for the university including expanded access for Nebraskans, growing enrollment, record research funding, significant physical expansion of the campuses, a highly successful capital campaign, creation of a number of university-wide institutes, an increased commitment to global engagement, and expansion of the university’s distance learning programs. The Board of Regents named him president emeritus of the University of Nebraska upon his resignation.

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L. Dennis Smith: 1994 - 2004

L. Dennis Smith
L. Dennis Smith became president of the University of Nebraska in 1994 and stepped down in 2004. During Smith's tenure, which included the completion of the Foundation's successful $727 million Campaign Nebraska, more than 5 million square feet of facilities were renovated and constructed, including residence halls, classrooms and research laboratories. Unique public-private partnerships were also created during his service as president, including the Rural Initiative, Peter Kiewit Institute, and Center for Biosecurity. Smith's priorities included a stronger emphasis on research and faculty recruiting.

Martin Massengale: 1989 - 1994

Martin Massengale joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as vice chancellor for agriculture and natural resources in 1976, and became chancellor of the Lincoln campus in 1981. In 1989, he was appointed interim president of the University of Nebraska and was named president in 1991. He served in that capacity until 1994. Massengale was known as an effective leader and supporter of the concept of integrating research, education, and extension. He also authored or co-authored over 70 scientific papers and was a consultant to several foreign governments.

Ronald Roskens: 1977 - 1989

Ronald Roskens
After serving as chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 1972-77, Ronald Roskens was named president of the University of Nebraska in 1977, a post he held for 13 years. During that time he brought an international perspective to the university, developing programs with universities in Asia, Latin America, Europe and China. Roskens also negotiated an exchange program with Kabul University in Afghanistan, and oversaw development of the center for Afghanistan studies at UNO.

Durwood B. Varner: 1970 - 1976

D. B. Varner
Woody Varner became chancellor of the University of Nebraska system in 1970; in 1971, the title was officially changed and he became the first person to hold the title of president of the University of Nebraska. He served in that position until 1976, and strongly supported an expansion of the university's academic and cultural outreach efforts. In 1976, he became president of the University of Nebraska Foundation. He led the first major capital campaign, raising more than $52 million, and spearheaded the fund drive that resulted in the construction of the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

Clifford Hardin: 1968-1969

Clifford Hardin
From 1954-68, Clifford Hardin served as chancellor of the University of Nebraska, which at that time included the Lincoln campuses, the College of Medicine in Omaha and extension and research sites throughout the state. Under Hardin's tenure as chancellor, the university's enrollment rose from 7,000 to 19,000 students, and funding was appropriated for many new university buildings. In 1968, the University of Nebraska system was established and Hardin was named chief executive officer (he was designated as the chancellor and the heads of the campuses were called presidents). Hardin left the university in 1969 to become U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, a post he held until 1971.
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