James Pottorff named vice president and general counsel

August 1, 2018

University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds announced today that following a national search, he has appointed James Pottorff as the university’s next vice president and general counsel.

Pottorff, who brings more than 25 years of senior legal experience in public higher education and the U.S. military, will begin at NU on Sept. 10, pending approval of the Board of Regents at its Aug. 3 meeting.

A Kansas native who was raised on the family farm in the Flint Hills, Pottorff most recently was general counsel at the University of Kansas, a role he held for 17 years. There, he was the principal legal adviser to the chancellor, her cabinet and senior administrators, who collectively led a comprehensive research university with 28,000 students on five campuses, including the KU Medical Center.

Prior to that, he was the staff judge advocate for the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, New York, where he served as general counsel for a U.S. Army division and military installation with 10,500 soldiers and 2,000 civilian employees. He was also deputy staff judge advocate for the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in general engineering.

Pottorff has also held a number of academic and administrative roles, including assistant director for academic affairs and international law at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and faculty and associate dean’s positions at the Army Judge Advocate General’s School in Charlottesville, Va.

As the University of Nebraska’s general counsel, Pottorff will be the chief legal officer for the NU system, leading a team responsible for all university legal matters including employment issues, real estate transactions, contract negotiations, administrative matters, litigation and appeals, intellectual property and technology transfer, athletics, health sciences, university policies, rules, regulations, and compliance with local, state and federal laws.

“Jim Pottorff brings broad and deep legal experience that will serve the University of Nebraska well,” Bounds said. “He’s been engaged in every major area that a university manages on a regular basis – personnel, contracts, athletics, research, healthcare, military matters and any number of others. He has a track record of putting solutions in place to operate more effectively and more efficiently. And as someone who has spent his career in public service, he understands well the University of Nebraska’s mission to create value for the citizens of the state.”

Pottorff said he was attracted to NU’s role and mission as the state’s only public university, noting he has been particularly impressed to learn about the presence of research, extension, health education and other sites across the entire state.

“I’m humbled and gratified to be selected as the next vice president and general counsel of the University of Nebraska, a thriving and dynamic institution with a national and international reputation,” he said. “I look forward to working with President Bounds and his administration in support of the university’s teaching, research and service missions. As an attorney, it’s a true privilege to serve a client with a role as important and impactful as the University of Nebraska’s.”

Pottorff holds a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies with highest distinction from the Naval War College; a master’s degree in human resources management from Pepperdine University; and an L.LM in military administrative law from the Judge Advocate General’s School, where he was an honor graduate. He earned his J.D. from the University of Kansas, where he was an articles editor for the Kansas Law Review. He is also a graduate of the Command and General Staff Officer Course at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He held the rank of Colonel upon retirement from active duty.

Pottorff and his wife, Judy, have three adult children.

Media Contact:
Melissa Lee
Director of Communications,
University of Nebraska