Chairman Stinner and members of the Appropriations Committee, good morning. My name is Ted Carter (T-E-D C-A-R-T-E-R) and I serve as president of the University of Nebraska system. Thank you for allowing me to be with you and to Senator Wishart for introducing LR 178.
The funding allocation to Nebraska from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 represents a unique opportunity to advance our state’s economic growth and quality of life post-pandemic, and the University is excited to be part of this conversation.
In deciding what we would bring to you for consideration, the chancellors and I agreed on several core principles.
Number one, we were not going to bring you “back-of-the-napkin” concepts. Every item in the document you have before you represents an existing strength and priority of the University of Nebraska. Agriculture, rural health, STEM education, cancer research, counterterrorism – these are efforts that we believe are so vital to the future of our state that we intend to pursue every opportunity to bring them to fruition.
Number two, only bold ideas with a long-term impact to Nebraska would make the cut. We wanted ideas that will still be growing Nebraska five, 10 and 20 years from now.
And number three, we would bring you concepts that the University of Nebraska is uniquely positioned to deliver for the people of our state.
The proposal provided to you today meet our criteria. I wish I could speak to each campus idea in detail, but let me say this right now. I am truly excited about every item on this list. These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for the State of Nebraska.
For example, Nebraska’s workforce data is urgent and clear. We have critical shortages of healthcare professionals especially in the rural parts of our state. The need for mental health services is acute. A new UNK-UNMC Rural Health Complex would help us educate and retain many more healthcare professionals for Greater Nebraska. I’m not aware of another state that has a model like this. If we want to change the trajectory for rural Nebraska, this is how we do it.
Agriculture is the foundation of our way of life here in Nebraska. You are likely aware of the major USDA agricultural research facility that is planned for Nebraska Innovation Campus at UNL. We envision a companion facility supported by a public-private partnership that would house additional researchers and ag-tech startup space to solve the pressing challenges facing our most important industry.
At UNMC, an institute dedicated to pancreatic cancer research has been a long-standing priority. We are on the cusp of breakthroughs, but a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is still far too devastating. A new research institute would give hope to those who have to fight this terrible disease. Investments in UNMC’s Global Center for Health Security would help us prepare for the next pandemic – or whatever public health crisis comes our way.
Investments in the Holland Computing Center would greatly expand our IT and computing footprint. Biomechanics, where UNO is already a world leader, could dramatically grow its research capacity. The national counterterrorism research center established at UNO last year with a historic federal grant could increase its research and collaborative capabilities.
Finally, the University enthusiastically supports the proposal that the Chambers of Commerce shared earlier to invest in a new statewide internship initiative. These efforts, done in partnership with philanthropic partners like the Aksarben Foundation, would go a long way toward keeping more talented graduates in our state and growing the workforce pipeline.
Thank you again, and we look forward to continued discussions on how best to maximize these funds for Nebraska’s future. I would be happy to answer any questions.