To the Faculty, Staff and Students of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:
Today I am thrilled to share with you that after a rigorous national search, I have selected Rodney D. Bennett, Ed.D., as the priority candidate to be your next chancellor.
Put simply, Dr. Bennett is exactly the right leader at exactly the right time for our flagship university. He recently concluded a nearly decade-long tenure as president of the University of Southern Mississippi, where he expanded the size and prestige of the research enterprise, improved student outcomes, and prioritized resources to allow for investments in faculty and high-growth academic programs. He has a deep appreciation for the role and mission of public land-grant universities, and he understands well the challenges that all of us in higher education are facing – and the opportunities for universities like ours to lead the way forward.
Prior to his time at Southern Miss, he held leadership roles at the University of Georgia and his alma mater, Middle Tennessee State University. You can learn much more about Dr. Bennett and his impressive career here.
As I have come to know, Dr. Bennett is an exceptional relationship-builder and vocal champion of the fundamental mission of public higher education to change lives. He recognizes the crucial role that UNL plays in driving economic prosperity and well-being in Nebraska and around the world, and is a fierce advocate for creating access and opportunity for every student. In my conversations with him, I’ve been inspired by Dr. Bennett’s bold vision for UNL to set, as he describes it, a new standard of excellence among American flagships. I am confident he will bring fresh energy and ideas to the goals we all share for growing enrollment, research and impactful partnerships.
I’m grateful to our Chancellor Search Advisory Committee, led by Dean Tiffany Heng-Moss, for their diligent work in compiling public feedback, helping to craft a job description, and inviting and reviewing candidates. Theirs was no small task. As we have said from the outset, our goal was to find a leader who will continue to build UNL’s trajectory without missing a beat after Chancellor Green steps away. The committee has risen to the challenge of narrowing a talented pool based on the input that so many of you shared about the qualities and skills you’d like to see in your next leader.
As I think you will see, Rodney Bennett embodies those qualities. We now move to an important phase in our search process. As the priority candidate, Dr. Bennett will spend the next 30 days meeting all of you, taking your questions, and sharing his vision for UNL’s future. We are finalizing details now for a series of campus visits that will be open to all, and we will share those with you soon. Anytime during the next 30 days, I invite you to share your feedback on Dr. Bennett’s candidacy at www.nebraska.edu/unl-chancellor-search. If, at the conclusion of the 30-day period, we decide to move forward, I will bring Dr. Bennett’s candidacy to the Board of Regents for consideration at its June 22 meeting.
This is a crucial moment for the University of Nebraska and all of higher education. I am so pleased that we have found a leader like Dr. Bennett to chart UNL’s path forward. I know he is eager to get to know all of you much better in the weeks ahead. As Rodney told me, people are a university’s greatest asset – and we have some of the best right here in Nebraska. I look forward to building our future.
Thank you for all you do for UNL, our students and our state.
President, University of Nebraska System