By Ted Carter
President, University of Nebraska System
Many of us know intuitively that our lives are touched in some way by the University of Nebraska.
Maybe you’ve received care at our world-renowned medical center. Maybe you’re a farmer or rancher who’s benefited from the expertise of Nebraska Extension. You’ve probably been to a football game and felt the common bond of cheering for the Huskers with your fellow Nebraskans.
The University of Nebraska is part of the very fabric of our state. It’s been that way throughout almost all of Nebraska’s history. Whether through our teaching, health care or our research, the University of Nebraska exists to improve peoples’ lives.
Recently we asked an independent firm to calculate exactly how much the university impacts Nebraska’s economy. The results are even more impressive than I expected.
In short, the University of Nebraska is a $5.8 billion economic engine for our state – the source of thousands of talented graduates every year for the workforce, tens of thousands of Nebraska jobs supported by our activities, and new technologies spun from faculty research that improve the health of our people, livestock and crops.
Put another way: For every $1 Nebraskans invest in their university, we return $9 in activity. That impact touches every Nebraska county and is spread across rural and urban communities alike.
What does the university’s impact look like in our day-to-day lives? It’s not just numbers on a page.
It’s the construction jobs created when we upgrade a teaching facility – real jobs that support real Nebraska families.
It’s a safer battlefield for our brave women and men in uniform, thanks to the UNO team that was the first to identify an emergent terrorist group that would later become known as ISIS.
It’s the hope UNMC scientists can provide to patients battling pancreatic cancer, one of the most lethal cancers in the world.
At the University of Nebraska, we’re committed to turning Nebraskans’ investment into real results that benefit our state. We come to work every day focused on what we, as Nebraska’s only public university system, are uniquely positioned to provide for our citizens.
That question has become even more relevant as Nebraska recovers from the pandemic.
We have a rare opportunity right now to not just get back to normal, but to make Nebraska the No. 1 choice for every single person who’s looking for a place to get a great job, raise a family and enjoy a high quality of life. I think we’ll look back and see this as a pivotal moment in our history – a moment when we got to make decisions about how best to build our workforce, grow a prosperous economy, and ensure the health and well-being of future generations.
As a university, we’re excited to be part of the conversation. We have ambitious plans for growing our state, drawing on the deep expertise of our faculty and our proud history of addressing priorities that matter for Nebraska: health care, agriculture, cancer research, national defense.
Fourteen Nebraska counties, for example, don’t have a primary care physician. For $8 per Nebraskan per year – the current cost of two gallons of gas – we could transform Nebraska’s rural health care workforce, building on a proven record of successful partnership between UNK and UNMC to ensure that every Nebraskan has access to the quality care they deserve.
We could follow the Department of Homeland Security’s lead and cement UNO and Nebraska as the go-to experts in the fight against terrorism.
With UNL’s leadership, we could begin a new era of innovation in agriculture, our state’s most important industry, so the next generation of agricultural leaders continues to find the very best jobs right here in Nebraska.
We could make a promise that every student who wants an internship can get one, strengthening our workforce pipeline.
It will take all of us – the University of Nebraska, elected leaders, business leaders, private donors – working together to make these happen. I firmly believe partnerships are the way forward.
And the University, a force for growth and opportunity across the state, is not only a vital partner, but a wise investment that delivers returns well into the future.