Samuel J. Meisels, founding executive director of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska, has announced that he will retire in December 2022. Meisels’s retirement will cap a 50-year career culminating in his founding leadership of NU’s system-wide institute dedicated to the learning and development of young children.
Meisels came to Nebraska in 2013 to help start the Buffett Institute, launched with a gift from Omaha philanthropist Susie Buffett. The institute brings together the university’s four campuses on research, practice, policy and outreach focused on children from birth to grade 3, with an emphasis on vulnerable children and families. Two programs – Closing the Opportunity Gap and Elevating the Early Childhood Workforce – guide the institute’s work.
"In leading the Buffett Institute from vision to reality, Sam Meisels has brought invaluable attention to our state’s most vulnerable young children and their families as well as the professionals who provide their care and education," said Ted Carter, NU system president. "I’m so proud of all that Sam and the institute have accomplished. We are well-positioned for the next chapter.”
Meisels, who holds the Richard D. Holland Presidential Chair in Early Childhood Development, said: "Coming to the University of Nebraska to launch the Buffett Early Childhood Institute has been the culmination of my career of research and service to children and families. We built the Buffett Institute in concert with many University of Nebraska and state partners to fulfill our vision of making Nebraska the best place in the nation to be a baby. I will watch with pride as the new executive director and the institute team continue to make this vision accessible for all of Nebraska’s children."
In its eight-year history, the Buffett Institute has facilitated hundreds of early childhood-focused gatherings and produced research that has informed public policy discussions locally and nationally. Last year, the institute received the National Association of State Boards of Education’s Friend of Education Award for “significant and enduring” contributions to PreK-12 education.
Under Meisels’s leadership, the institute has also created endowed faculty positions across the four campuses, and has awarded fellowships of up to $25,000 to NU doctoral students. More information about the Buffett Institute’s achievements is available here.
Carter said the university will conduct a national search for Meisels’s successor. Details will be announced later.