Board of Regents
James B. Milliken
Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska
Report from the February 2014 meeting of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.
Peter Kiewit Institute strategic plan sets ambitious goals for engineering, IT
The chancellors of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and University of Nebraska-Lincoln have laid out an integrated strategic plan for the Peter Kiewit Institute that positions PKI to meet the needs of engineering and information technology businesses in Omaha and throughout the state.
UNO Chancellor John Christensen and UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman presented the plan to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents during its January meeting. The plan was developed by an advisory council that includes the deans of the two colleges that comprise PKI – the UNO College of Information Science & Technology and the UNL College of Engineering – the interim executive director of PKI, and the senior vice chancellors for academic affairs at UNO and UNL.
“The plans presented today represent the most ambitious agenda for engineering and information technology in Omaha in the University of Nebraska’s history,” said NU President James B. Milliken. “These are bold goals, but with commitment by the faculty and leadership of both campuses and new investments in talent and facilities, I believe we can achieve them. I’m very pleased with this collaborative vision set out by the PKI advisory council, which will benefit Omaha and Nebraska well into the future.”
Milliken noted that a recent university/Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce assessment of workforce demands found that engineering and IT hiring in the Omaha area will be “robust” in the coming years. He said the university, through PKI, is in a position to do much more to meet these workforce demands.
Chancellor Perlman said: “I think for the first time PKI has a chance to fulfill the high expectations that animated its founding. Through the work of the senior vice chancellors, deans and interim director of PKI, there are real collaborative efforts underway to provide exciting educational opportunities for students in Omaha, to provide valuable engagement of the private sector, and to construct a research agenda that could put Omaha and the University of Nebraska on the map.”
Chancellor Christensen said: “PKI is an important organization that supports business, industry and P-20 education in Omaha and throughout the region. Our collaborative efforts outlined in the Institute’s new agenda will better serve the needs of our area. UNO’s College of Information Science & Technology is well-positioned for growth and has an exciting future. And, Omaha will benefit greatly from an expanded College of Engineering presence.”
The strategic plan charges the campuses with making significant progress in building partnerships with leading Omaha companies as well as state and federal agencies; ensuring PKI’s facilities align with its teaching and research missions; developing cross-disciplinary academic programming; hiring more faculty and growing enrollment; increasing research and internship opportunities; and expanding outreach to K-12 STEM programs across the state. It sets specific benchmarks for success by which PKI will be measured, including:
Regent Bob Whitehouse, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, said the Board is fully committed to the success of PKI. “I commend the chancellors and the Academic Advisory Council for the ambitious agenda they have developed for PKI,” Whitehouse said. “Looking ahead, the Board will regularly monitor PKI’s performance to ensure that benchmarks set today are met. We look forward to seeing PKI do even more to serve students and businesses in Omaha and throughout the state.”
Regents’ campus visit puts spotlight on UNMC successes
From gait studies that could improve safety for older adults to student-run clinics that serve the community to the promise of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, members of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents were treated to many examples of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s statewide impact during a February campus visit.
Regents’ campus visit puts spotlight on UNMC successes.
During their visit – part of a series of campus visits that regents participate in each year – Board members spent the day learning about new initiatives, ongoing projects and cutting-edge research at UNMC. They began the day with a welcome from University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken, followed by opening remarks from UNMC’s new chancellor, Dr. Jeffrey Gold, who discussed his vision for the campus.
Dr. Gold said the day contained multiple points of pride for him.
“It showcased a number of wonderful programs,” he said. “It gave the regents an opportunity to meet with key faculty members, who are not only very good at what they do, but who exemplify great pride in being part of UNMC and the University of Nebraska.”
In fact, Dr. Gold said the toughest part of getting ready for the Board’s visit was deciding which of UNMC’s numerous impressive projects he would spotlight. During their full day, regents:
Regent Kent Schroeder noted the importance of on-site visits. “It’s one thing to sit down at Varner Hall and approve a program or a capital improvement at the med center; it’s something else to come here and see it live, to see the viability of it, what it’s doing and how it’s enhancing health care in the state of Nebraska,” Schroeder said.
NU maintaining focus on retention, timely graduation
Ensuring that University of Nebraska students graduate in a timely manner continues to be a high priority for the Board of Regents, which learned during its January meeting that the University of Nebraska at Kearney and University of Nebraska at Omaha continue to exceed their peer averages in six-year graduation rates. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is slightly behind its peer average.
At UNK, 55.9 percent of full-time, first-time freshmen graduate from UNK within six years, compared to an average of 50.7 percent among its peers. UNO’s six-year graduation rate is 46.1 percent, compared to a peer average of 43.1 percent. UNL’s six-year graduation rate is 64.6 percent, while its peer average is 71.5 percent.
Pete Lipins, NU senior research analyst, noted that the standard method for calculating graduation rates does not take into account students who begin their education at one institution and finish at another. Nor does it include students who are still enrolled in school. Consideration of broader, more student-focused measures of success reveal different figures for the NU campuses. The table below details outcomes for the NU freshman cohort of 2006:
Improving freshman-to-sophomore retention rates is another priority of the Board. Each campus’ retention rate exceeds 70 percent. The campuses also have developed a number of strategies aimed at helping students graduating in a timely manner, including residence hall-based learning communities focused on specific majors or areas of interest, early intervention techniques to identify struggling students, and stronger academic advising.
In 2011, the Board of Regents approved a policy standardizing NU baccalaureate degrees at 120 credit hours. The policy helps ensure that students can graduate in four years if they take a full course load of 15 credit hours per semester for eight semesters.
Regents briefed on new NU commitments to expanding college access, success
University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken briefed the Board of Regents during its January meeting on a set of new commitments the university has announced as part of a national initiative to expand college access and success to more students.
NU’s commitments – along with those of other colleges and universities around the country – were shared at a January White House summit, which Milliken attended, hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The Obama administration has established a goal for the United States to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
“Expanding affordable access to quality education is the University of Nebraska’s highest priority. I’m very pleased that the White House has set a goal to ensure more Americans have the chance to attend and succeed in college,” Milliken said. “The future of Nebraska, and the country, depends on our ability to make sure college is accessible for every student who is qualified and wants to attend.”
The University of Nebraska’s new commitments are:
During its January and February meetings, the Board of Regents:
The Board of Regents is guided by a Strategic Framework that lays out specific, measurable goals in key areas such as affordability, enrollment, graduation rates, research, engagement with the citizens of Nebraska, and cost-effectiveness. The university regularly reports its progress in each of these areas to the Board; detailed metrics and the university’s updated progress reports are available here.