February 2014
February 2014
Board of Regents Report Banner

Board of Regents

Howard Hawks
District 2

Bob Phares
Vice Chair
District 7

Tim Clare
District 1

Jim Pillen
District 3

Bob Whitehouse
District 4

Robert Schafer
District 5

Kent Schroeder
District 6

Hal Daub
District 8

Moses Moxey

Eric Reznicek

Krupa Savalia

Martha Spangler

Carmen Maurer
Corporation Secretary

James B. Milliken

Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska
3835 Holdrege St
Lincoln NE 68583
(402) 472-3906
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow the University of Nebraska on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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:

  • Growing Omaha-based undergraduate enrollment in the College of Engineering from 780 to 1,200.
  • Improving freshman-to-sophomore retention among Omaha students in the College of Engineering from 66 percent to 90 percent, and improving the six-year graduation rate to 70 percent.
  • Expanding an Omaha-based Master of Engineering degree for working professionals.
  • Growing Omaha-focused research expenditures in the College of Engineering from just over $3.3 million to about $30 million.
  • Adding 30 new engineering faculty positions in Omaha.
  • Growing enrollment in the College of Information Science & Technology from 1,000 to 1,500 by 2020.
  • Increasing freshman-to-sophomore retention in the College of IS&T to from 77 percent to 90 percent, and improving the six-year graduation rate to 70 percent.
  • Increasing research expenditures in the College of IS&T from $3.6 million to more than $10 million.
  • Adding more than 20 new faculty in the College of IS&T.

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

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.

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:

  • Received an update on the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center from its director, Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Learned about the promise of artificial cartilage.
  • Attended a presentation on the Nebraska Biobank and Clinical Research Center.
  • Met with students and faculty to discuss the SHARING Clinics, which provide quality, affordable health care services to those in need.
  • Heard about pharmacy collaboration in rural areas.
  • Enjoyed lunch and updates with the UNMC leadership team.
  • Learned about UNMC research on multitasking among older adults.
  • Visited the Munroe-Meyer Institute to learn about recent developments in the treatment of autism.

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:


4-year grad rate

6-year grad rate

Graduated Elsewhere

Still Enrolled Somewhere




















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:

  • Scaling its pilot Nebraska Virtual Scholars program to make online courses available to more low-income, rural and first-generation college students. Through Virtual Scholars, the university has offered a limited number of scholarships for Nebraska students to take online high school courses from the University of Nebraska High School for free. The program has made Advanced Placement, STEM, elective and foundational courses available to many students – largely in rural areas – who likely would not otherwise have had access to the courses. The university intends to expand the program, offering more high school courses as well as foundational courses to middle school students, in an effort to remedy academic preparation gaps that often exist in low-income and rural communities, accelerate college completion, and lower the cost of a four-year degree. NU will work with state policymakers to develop a funding model for University of Nebraska High School courses.
  • Communicating to all Nebraska middle school students and their parents, teachers and counselors about college preparation using new tools that are more effectively targeted to lower-income, rural and first-generation students. The university’s outreach to middle school students generally has relied on traditional communications such as letters, brochures and posters. New strategies will include leveraging social and digital platforms; conducting outreach to other organizations that work with youth; pairing current university students with middle school students in their hometowns to serve as role models; bringing groups of underrepresented and low-income students to university campuses; and developing materials that can be sent home with students and used in classrooms or after-school programs. NU is creating a new position of vice provost for P-16 initiatives; responsibilities will include directing an education and outreach effort to increase college-going.
  • Significantly increasing the number of low-income and first-generation students who participate in summer scholars programs on the NU campuses. For example, at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, students enroll in a five-week pre-college summer session where they learn about college coursework, time management, admissions and financial aid. They interact with faculty and staff, explore career options and participate in community service activities. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Nebraska at Kearney offer summer “bridge” programs that allow incoming freshmen to experience campus life before the school year begins. The university intends to expand participation in these programs to help students transition more successfully to college life and prepare them for continued success and graduation. The university also plans to expand the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s High School Alliance, which offers science classes not available in a typical high school setting to high school students interested in a career in health care.


During its January and February meetings, the Board of Regents:

  • Elected Regent Howard Hawks of Omaha to serve as chairman for 2014, and Regent Bob Phares of North Platte to serve as vice chairman. Hawks, founder and chairman of Tenaska, was first elected to the Board in 2002 and served as vice chairman last year.
  • Heard a presentation from Terry Hartle, senior vice president at the Washington, D.C.-based American Council on Education, about national higher education policy. Hartle noted that the current environment in Washington is “hyperpartisan” and that major initiatives are unlikely. Hartle said that a White House proposal to rate colleges on value and affordability will be controversial, given that the purpose of a ratings system is thus far unclear, reliable data may not exist, and it’s unclear how institutions will be compared against each other. He also said a ratings system has the potential to harm institutions by not taking into account the full scope of what they do and how they are serving students.
  • Read a resolution honoring outgoing University of Nebraska Medical Center Chancellor Dr. Harold Maurer and thanked him for his service and leadership at UNMC.
  • Approved 2014-15 residence hall room and board rates for the University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska at Omaha and Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.
  • Approved replacing the sound system and installing Wifi inside Memorial Stadium in Lincoln in order to improve the fan experience for those attending football games. The project is expected to be completed in August 2014, in time for the 2014 season.
  • Approved the selection of RDG Planning and Design to serve as the architect for the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center at UNL. The center, which received a generous state investment in 2012 as part of the university’s Building a Healthier Nebraska initiative, will provide a high-quality, accredited veterinary diagnostic facility for Nebraska.
  • Approved revisions to the university lease program at Nebraska Innovation Campus to allow for increased lease space at the private-public research and development campus in Lincoln. UNL is moving its Department of Food Science and Technology to Innovation Campus, a reflection of the strategic priorities for NIC of food, fuel and water. A planned “Food Innovation Center” will enable the development of world-class facilities in conjunction with private partners, and will make UNL a national player in vying for a national “innovation institute” in food engineering as recently proposed by President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
  • Tabled a vote on the program statement and budget for the Breslow Ice Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to allow for more discussion on the financing of the project.
  • Approved a renovation of Behlen Laboratory at UNL. Renovation will turn Behlen into a flexible research center that can accommodate faculty working on defense-related projects, including those associated with the university’s National Strategic Research Institute.
  • Approved a renovation of Manter Hall at UNL. Manter, which houses anatomy, physiology and introductory biology courses that are fundamental to general education, currently is overcrowded and outdated; renovation will add capacity for labs, student support areas and offices.
  • Approved plans for Love North Learning Commons at UNL, which will transform Love North from a location for books to a student-centered space for collaborative, cooperative and informal learning.
  • Approved an agreement with the University of Nebraska Foundation for the purchase of the property at 14th Street and Military Road in Lincoln.
  • Approved changing the name of UNMC’s existing College of Pharmacy to the Joseph D. & Millie E. Williams Science Hall, and naming two auditoriums to be built in the Lozier Center for Pharmacy Sciences and Education and Center for Drug Discovery for the Williamses, in recognition of the couple’s achievements, service and support for the pharmacy college. Joe Williams is a distinguished graduate of the college.


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.

Board of Regents – University of Nebraska – 3835 Holdrege St. – Lincoln, NE 68583 – (402) 472-3906 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

University of Nebraska
3835 Holdrege Street, Lincoln, Nebraska 68583 | 402.472.2111 | Comments?
©2017 University of Nebraska Board of Regents