To the Students of the University of Nebraska:
Today you begin the next chapter of your academic journey. For some, this is the final year before you earn your degree. Others are new to the University of Nebraska family.
To each of you: I’m glad you’re here. You’re a valued member of the university community.
I’ve gotten to meet many of you at back-to-school events over the past few days and throughout my time as president. You impress me each time with your talents, goals and energy. You are more than 52,000 strong, each with your own unique story. You come from all 93 Nebraska counties, states across the country and places around the world. You bring great diversity in all its remarkable forms. Many of you are the first in your families to attend college. I know what it means for you to be here.
“I’ve met many of you throughout my time as president. You impress me with your talents, goals and energy. You are more than 52,000 strong, each with your own unique story.”
Together, you’re the next generation of health care professionals, farmers and ranchers, business leaders and entrepreneurs, teachers, artists and scientists. I’m certain one of you will have the next “big idea” for a revolutionary startup company. One of you is going to figure out how to improve crop yields to feed the world’s hungry population. One of you is going to develop a treatment for a disease that today claims too many lives. As alumni, you’ll change our communities through civic engagement and public service, you’ll travel the world as ambassadors for Nebraska and the United States, and you’ll create new knowledge and insights that will move our world forward. That’s the power of a University of Nebraska education.
Here, you’ll learn the skills you’ll need not just to get the jobs of the future, but to create the jobs of the future. You’ll learn in our laboratories and classrooms and fields – not just facts and figures, but through hands-on experience, led by faculty who are among the best in the country. You’ll have opportunities for meaningful research, internships and study abroad. You’ll find passions you didn’t know you had.
Some of the most important lessons will be taught when class isn’t in session. You’re going to live and study and work with people whose backgrounds and beliefs are very different from your own. It won’t always be easy or comfortable. But it’s an experience that a great university must provide its students. As we uphold our commitment to the open exchange of ideas that is part of any free society, we must also ask ourselves what we can do to become a more welcoming, inclusive and tolerant university. There can be no more important priority than the safety and well-being of every member of our community. I challenge each of us in the year ahead to find ways to build the more excellent university that I know we can be.
Here’s to a year of learning, discovery, new friendships and opportunity. I’m excited to meet many more of you in the months ahead. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and to keep up with me by following @hankbounds. Have a great first day of classes, and thank you for choosing the University of Nebraska.
Hank M. Bounds, Ph.D.
President, University of Nebraska