One of our most fundamental responsibilities is to build outstanding academic programs that prepare students to be successful, attract talent to our campuses and meet the needs of our state. We can be proud of our progress in this regard – a credit first to your good work, and also to the support of partners across Nebraska without whom we would not be in the strong position we’re in today.
Outstanding programs depend on two vital ingredients: talented faculty and staff, and updated, functional and safe facilities that are suited to 21st-century teaching and research. Without high-quality classrooms, labs and office space, we would be unable to attract and retain top talent or provide our students with the best possible education. This is particularly true in today’s incredibly competitive higher education marketplace.
I have spent a great deal of time on our campuses over the past eight months, and I’ve seen firsthand that many of our facilities are in good condition. I am grateful to state policymakers for their long history of partnership with us to make mutual investments in deferred maintenance projects that have protected the quality of our facilities, which represent 70 percent of the state’s total building assets.
“Outstanding programs depend on two vital ingredients: talented faculty and staff, and updated, functional and safe facilities that are suited to 21st-century teaching and research.”
I am also aware that buildings across the university – including some that are among our most heavily used for teaching and research – are badly in need of investment to bring them to current standards. In fact, it would cost $1.1 billion to bring all our buildings to “like new” condition – an investment neither the university nor the state is in a position to make.
While we cannot fund every need, our history of partnership with the state to address our deferred maintenance needs has proven to be a strategic, proactive and successful approach that we hope to continue. In the upcoming legislative session, we will ask senators and the Governor to increase their investments, to be matched by university investments, in deferred maintenance in order to fund renovation projects across our campuses in the years ahead. I briefed the Board of Regents today on our proposal, which is also supported by the four chancellors. Our planning was informed by a comprehensive facilities analysis that engaged a university-wide team and an independent consultant.
We will invest in renovation projects that align with key priorities, like undergraduate education, research and STEM programs. Needs vary across the campuses, but our focus will be on investments that provide faculty and staff with the type of space they need to do their best work, ensure the highest-quality learning environment for our students, and maintain competitive facilities that will support our goals for excellence and growth. In my view, we owe our students and employees nothing less. I look forward to discussing our proposal in more detail with policymakers in the months ahead.
Thank you for all you do for the University of Nebraska.
President, University of Nebraska