As I travel the state during my first year, learning more about the citizens, communities of Nebraska and the four University campuses, I know I will learn much. As St. Augustine says, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” I will be soaking in pages and pages of the Nebraska story—getting to know Nebraskans, learning more about the good work they are doing, and listening to their ideas on how we can work together to build an even stronger university.
I’ll be jotting down notes about ideas, places, and people that impress and inspire me. If you’d like, you can keep track of my journey on this page—and on Twitter using @hankbounds.
Hank M. Bounds
President, University of Nebraska
The health complex will house an expanded Kearney division of the UNMC College of Nursing, as well as Kearney-based programs of the UNMC College of Allied Health Professions. With significantly expanded capacity to train the next generation of rural Nebraska’s health care professionals, we’ll be able to better serve students and meet critical workforce needs in our rural communities. The facts are clear: Rural Nebraska faces key shortages of nurses, physical therapists, physician assistants and other health workers. The University of Nebraska has a responsibility to meet these needs, and the new health complex will position us to do that.
More than 700 Nebraskans joined me, UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen, UNMC Chancellor Jeff Gold, College of Nursing Dean Juliann Sebastian, College of Allied Health Professions Dean Kyle Meyer and many others for the grand opening. (You can read the Kearney Hub’s coverage here.) It was truly a day of celebration for all Nebraskans – because the Health Science Education Complex would not be possible without the support, leadership, commitment and hard work of many. These include my university colleagues, Nebraska policymakers who provided a generous investment in the facility, private donors whose support allowed us to construct a state-of-the-art complex that will prepare our students to be successful, and Kearney-area community members who have shared in our excitement along the way. The health science complex is a shining example of the power of public-private partnerships.
And, it’s a model of cross-campus collaboration that I want to see replicated many times over across the University of Nebraska. Each of our campuses has a unique mission and strengths, but we can achieve so much more when we work together as one university. In this case, we’re able to combine the talents of UNMC and UNK faculty to serve students and meet educational, health care and workforce needs across our state. I know there are countless other opportunities for our campuses to partner for Nebraska’s benefit.
Having toured the Health Science Education Complex myself, I can attest that it’s truly cutting-edge. More important than a building, of course, is the work that will take place within its walls – the education of the Nebraska’s future health care workforce. I am immensely honored to be serving as president when this facility is opening, and I’m excited for the students, faculty and staff who are filling its classrooms. Thank you again to all the Nebraskans whose support made the Health Science Education Complex possible.
It would be impossible to cover all the highlights of my UNO visit, but of course one of the bright spots was the opportunity to spend time with students. UNO is a place where students really do come first, and that comes through everywhere on campus… new academic programs that are meeting student needs and preparing them for the workforce, a commitment to affordability and access that keeps a UNO education within reach for Nebraskans, new facilities that are enhancing the student experience in and outside of the classroom. As UNO student-body president Brock Lewis told me on Twitter, there’s nothing better than a university that works for students – and UNO is a true model in this regard.
As just one example, UNO is widely known for its commitment to serving military students. Military Times magazine, in fact, has named UNO the nation’s best four-year institution for veterans – a testament to the campus’ efforts to make sure military students have access to the services they need to earn a degree and begin their careers. Of course, I also congratulate the students themselves, who have served us in a way we can never really repay.
UNO also does an outstanding job of serving students who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education, including first-generation and minority students. The campus is a great reflection of the community it serves. I support UNO’s goals to grow enrollment by expanding access to even more students and hope we will continue to see growth in key areas like business and information science and technology.
While on campus, I invited the Maverick family to tell me on Twitter what they love most about UNO – and the responses were incredible. Mavericks are incredibly passionate about their university and I loved reading their comments. Some discovered their career path at UNO, some found a club or team that matches their interests, some have a favorite spot on campus, and many spoke about the support they’d received from faculty, advisers or friends at UNO.
Whatever your reason for loving UNO, I’m delighted that the campus is having such a positive impact on our students and the community. Thanks to the UNO family for the warm welcome to campus, and I can’t wait to return soon!
I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days at UNK – and what a great experience it was. Even with many students and faculty gone for the summer, it’s easy to get a sense of the momentum and opportunity on campus. As UNK approaches its 25th anniversary of joining the University of Nebraska family next year, it’s doing more than ever to serve as the educational hub of rural Nebraska, providing access to excellent education for students across the state and engaging with Kearney and surrounding communities in new and innovative ways. There’s never been a better time to be a Loper!
UNK is a terrific model for some of my university-wide goals. First, this is a campus where students come first. UNK is a close-knit community where students can find the support they need to be successful, from caring faculty to small classes to learning communities in the residence halls. These types of services are especially important for a campus that serves many students who are the first in their families to attend college, as UNK does.
And, UNK is partnering with other NU campuses in ways that I’d like to see replicated across the university. The new Health Science Education Complex, which will open later this year, is a unique partnership with UNMC that will expand educational opportunities for students in nursing and allied health programs and meet critical workforce needs in rural Nebraska. The facts are clear: Our state’s rural communities face a shortage of nurses, physical therapists, physician assistants and other allied health workers. The health science complex will help address those needs.
The best part of my visit was engaging with the campus community. Thanks to everyone who provided a warm welcome – in person or on Twitter, where many friends shared their favorite campus spots. I even got the chance to hop on a golf cart with Louie the Loper to see some campus landmarks! I can’t wait to return.
On the way back home, I stopped for visits with the Hastings Tribune, KHAS radio and NBC Nebraska. Fresh off my UNK visit, I had plenty to talk about! You can see the newspaper’s coverage here.
As I told Chamber members, the University of Nebraska absolutely has the potential to be one of the world’s great universities. I truly believe the best days for the university – and the state – are ahead of us. But to get there, we’ll need to work hand-in-hand with the business community. We need to partner to make sure our students have access to competitive internships that prepare them to be successful in the workforce, to attract the best and brightest students from around the state and beyond, and to make sure Nebraska is a place where young people will want to stay after graduation.
This means doing a better job of telling the story of our state – Nebraska has so much to offer – and also making sure we’re offering the high-quality, high-paying jobs that will keep top talent here. Judging by the frequency with which Lincoln, Omaha, Kearney and other Nebraska communities are appearing on economic “best-of” lists, I think we’re doing a great job – and can do even more to ensure the economic competitiveness of our cities and state. This goal is personal for me. I want Nebraska to be a place where my children Will and Caroline want to live and work and raise families. I know other parents want the same.
For the university’s part, we owe it to our partners in the private sector to make sure they have a robust talent pool to choose from when hiring new employees. We need to stay sharply focused on our goals to significantly grow enrollment and improve retention and graduation rates so that more students are entering the workforce pipeline and meeting economic needs in our state.
You can read the Lincoln Journal Star’s story about my appearance at “Face the Chamber”, and KLKN’s coverage. Thanks to the Lincoln Chamber for hosting me. I’m excited to work with business leaders across our state on growing the economy and keeping Nebraska strong.