Chairman Stinner, Vice Chairwoman Wishart, and members of the Appropriations Committee, good afternoon. My name is Ted Carter (T-E-D C-A-R-T-E-R) and I am president of the University of Nebraska System. Thank you for the opportunity to be with you.
I am here in support of the eight bills you will hear today that would invest federal relief dollars into workforce development and research initiatives at the University of Nebraska. The chancellors of our four University campuses, along with other experts and supporters, will follow me with detailed testimony on each of these projects. I want to say on behalf of all of us how grateful we are to the senators who have introduced ARPA legislation on our behalf: Senators Williams, Hilkemann, Kolterman, Dorn, DeBoer, Vargas, and McDonnell, thank you for your leadership and partnership.
These one-time federal funds offer our state a rare opportunity not only to recover from the pandemic, but to grow our economy and quality of life for generations to come.
As you consider how best to use these dollars, I want to tell you what kind of return you get when you invest in the University of Nebraska.
We just received a new analysis of the economic impact of our University system, done by national experts in the field. They found that the University grows Nebraska’s economy by $5.8 billion every year – equivalent to a 9-to-1 return on your investment. The last time we had this analysis done, three years ago, our annual impact was $4.5 billion. We have GROWN our impact – right in the middle of a global pandemic that dramatically altered every aspect of University life.
To me, that’s a powerful case for what Nebraskans get when they entrust their precious resources to the University. And that’s to say nothing of the returns that can’t be measured in a statistic – the communities touched by Nebraska Extension, or the lives saved by our medical research.
It’s anyone’s guess what our economic impact might have grown to if not for COVID-19. What I can tell you is that the University of Nebraska has momentum. And we are truly excited about the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with you to solve some of the urgent challenges facing our state.
The chancellors and I put a great deal of thought into deciding what proposals to bring to you for consideration. We quickly agreed on several core principles.
Number one, we were not interested in “back-of-the-napkin” concepts. Every proposal you will hear today represents an existing strength and priority of the University of Nebraska. Agriculture, rural health care, STEM education, cancer research, counterterrorism – these are areas where we have some of the very best talent in the world right here at Nebraska – including the distinguished colleagues sitting behind me. And they are areas that we believe are so vital to the future of our state that we will pursue every opportunity to bring them to fruition.
Number two, only bold ideas with long-term impact to Nebraska would make the cut. We wanted ideas that will transform Nebraska not just next year or the year after that – but 10, 20 and 50 years out, so that our children and children’s children will benefit.
And number three, we agreed we would bring you ideas that can only be carried out by the University of Nebraska. As you know better than anyone, our state’s challenges are varied and complex… Ranging from workforce shortages to declining rural populations, devastating disease to hunger and terrorism.
As Nebraska’s only public university system, with a comprehensive mission spanning education, research and outreach, we have a special opportunity and responsibility to offer bold solutions. These ideas will require close collaboration with public and private partners – but they are solutions that the University of Nebraska is uniquely positioned to deliver.
The proposals before you today meet our criteria. I am passionate about every item on our list. Imagine being able to provide new hope to patients facing a devastating diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Or delivering new solutions to keep the brave women and men of our military safer on the battlefield. Or transforming agriculture for the next century. Or ensuring that every Nebraskan – no matter where they live – has access to quality health care.
These are the kinds of conversations the chancellors and I have every day, and they informed the proposals you have before you now.
We hope you will agree that these are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for the State of Nebraska – opportunities to work together to deliver the workforce and research solutions our state needs to grow and prosper well into the future.
Thank you again for allowing me to speak with you. I would be happy to answer any questions.