May 2014
May 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

Kevin Knudson

Jordan Koch

Krupa Savalia

Connor Schulte

Carmen Maurer
Corporation Secretary

James Linder, M.D.
Interim President

Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska
3835 Holdrege St
Lincoln NE 68583
(402) 472-3906
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Report from the May 2014 meeting of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

Affordability, strategic investments highlight 2014-15 NU operating budget

A second straight freeze on resident tuition and investments in priority initiatives that benefit the state highlight the University of Nebraska’s 2014-15 operating budget, approved by the Board of Regents during its May 30 meeting.

Interim President James Linder said the budget reflects the university’s highest priority: affordable excellence. Strategic investments in cross-campus, multidisciplinary initiatives focusing on early childhood education, nursing and allied health, engineering and information sciences, and rural development will position the university to attract talent and expand education and research efforts in areas important to Nebraska. Meanwhile, the freeze on resident tuition, combined with a modest 3 percent increase for nonresidents, ensures that NU campuses will continue to be a great value compared to similar institutions.

“The University of Nebraska is in a strong position to advance our work in areas that matter to Nebraskans and people around the world,” Linder said. “With additional targeted investments, we will do even more to leverage the resources of our four campuses for the benefit of the state.”

Among the strategic investments in the 2014-15 budget:

  • Nearly $1.3 million to support the work of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, a university-wide institute dedicated to creating a more level playing field for at-risk children and families.
  • $800,000 to support faculty hiring within the Peter Kiewit Institute, a collaboration between the University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Information Science & Technology and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering. PKI’s strategic plan calls for additional faculty and other growth to better meet workforce needs in Omaha and Nebraska.
  • $500,000 for faculty hiring for the Health Science Education Complex, a collaboration between the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the University of Nebraska at Kearney that will expand UNMC nursing and allied health programs on the Kearney campus. Groundbreaking for the facility, which will create space for hundreds more Kearney-based nursing and allied health professions students, took place in April. The nursing and allied health expansion in Kearney was part of the university’s Building a Healthier Nebraska initiative that was supported by the state in 2012.
  • $500,000 to support personnel and programmatic needs of the Rural Futures Institute, a university-wide initiative focused on sustaining and enhancing the economy and quality of life in nonmetropolitan areas in Nebraska and beyond.
  • $2.5 million toward the university’s Programs of Excellence, which are high-priority academic areas across the four campuses. Programs of Excellence funds are awarded on a competitive basis to enhance the success and reputation of outstanding programs.
  • A 3 percent increase in the salary pool for faculty and staff outside the collective bargaining units at UNO and UNK. The funds will be distributed on the basis of merit and performance in support of the Board’s goal of recruiting and attracting top talent.

The freeze on resident tuition is the second phase of a two-year “affordability compact” reached last year between the university and state. In exchange for a 4 percent annual increase in state appropriations for NU for the current biennium, the university held tuition rates steady for all Nebraska students for 2013-14 and 2014-15 – saving the average undergraduate $1,000 over two years.

Per-credit-hour tuition rates for resident undergraduates will remain $216 at UNL (excluding differential rates), $196.75 at UNO, $174.50 at UNK and $116 at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis. Rates vary by college at UNMC.

The freeze guarantees that tuition rates on each NU campus will remain well below peer averages. Resident tuition and fees are currently 28 percent below the peer average for UNL, 27 percent below for UNO and 22 percent below for UNK. The university’s nonresident tuition rates also are well below the peer averages. More than half of all University of Nebraska undergraduates receive grant aid that they do not have to pay back, and about 1 in 5 Nebraska undergraduates attending the university is currently eligible for Collegebound Nebraska, which promises full tuition assistance for qualifying students.

The university faces about $2.2 million in reallocations for 2014-15. That comes on top of $78 million the university has reallocated since 2000. Cost-effectiveness is a high priority for the university. The number of FTE employees at the university has been flat since 2000 despite enrollment growth from 45,000 to 50,000, and administrative spending at NU campuses is below the peer averages.

James Linder formally installed as interim NU president

The University of Nebraska’s newly installed interim president has already made one thing clear: He intends to keep the university and its priorities moving forward while the search for a permanent president goes along.

University of Nebraska Interim President James Linder
with Board of Regents Chairman Howard Hawks

James Linder, M.D., was formally installed during the May 30 Board of Regents meeting, a month after assuming the interim role following past President James B. Milliken’s departure to the City University of New York. Linder will not be a candidate for the permanent position, but has pledged to remain in the role until a successor is chosen.

Board of Regents Chairman Howard Hawks noted that the presidential installation has been a long-standing tradition for the university – a chance for the NU community to gather to welcome and celebrate its new leadership. Hawks said that with his deep and wide-ranging experience in teaching, research and engagement, Linder will serve the University of Nebraska well during its time of transition.

“On behalf of all of my colleagues on the Board of Regents, I want to thank you for your willingness to lead this great institution and continue to advance it while we search for a permanent president,” Hawks said. “We unanimously pledge our support to you in the months ahead.”

Linder – a 30-year veteran of the University of Nebraska who most recently had served as senior associate to the NU president for innovation and economic competitiveness and president of the University Technology Development Corp. – said that he considers three factors when determining what efforts to devote his time to: Is the work interesting? Is it relevant? And, what is the quality of the potential co-workers?

Service to the University of Nebraska, which advances society and trains the next generation of leaders, clearly fits the criteria, Linder said.

“Fundamentally what the University of Nebraska does is change the lives of people,” he said.

“The university is populated by people who are motivated by ideas, and motivated by making the world a better place.”

Linder was formally welcomed by friends representing all four NU campuses and key university constituencies. Dusty Reynolds, director of entrepreneurship and innovation at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and a University of Nebraska at Kearney alum, noted that higher education is critical to economic development in the state and welcomed Linder on behalf of Nebraska’s business community.

Dr. Rodney Markin, associate vice chancellor for business development, chief technology officer and professor in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, welcomed Linder on behalf of the university’s 13,000 faculty and staff. A close personal friend of Linder’s, Markin pledged employees’ full support to Linder and said he looks forward to Linder’s leadership.

Jordan Koch, student body president at the University of Nebraska at Omaha – whose own installation Linder attended earlier this spring – offered greetings on behalf of NU’s 50,000 students. Koch thanked Linder for pledging to engage with students and sustain NU as “a leading place to receive an education at an affordable cost.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman pledged support from all four campus administrations. He noted the university is fortunate to have people like Linder who are willing to step forward and lead when needed.

“It is clear that the important work of the university is in good hands and that the upward trajectory of the university will continue,” Perlman said. “[Linder] has demonstrated that while he may be an interim, he is decidedly not going to be merely a caretaker. We have every reason to believe he will be decisive, collaborative and, while respectful of the past, focused on the future.”

Linder brings considerable experience to the interim role. In addition to his work in economic development, he holds a faculty appointment as professor of pathology and microbiology at UNMC, and he chaired the recent search for UNMC’s new chancellor. Linder also serves as chief medical officer of Roche Diagnostics Hematology of Boston. He earned undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and microbiology from Iowa State University and his M.D. from UNMC. Linder has been on the NU faculty since 1983 and has served as vice chair of pathology, director of surgical pathology and cytopathology, associate dean for academic affairs, interim dean of the College of Medicine, associate vice chancellor for research, and CEO of UNeMed Corp.

Linder and his wife, Karen, founded and manage Linseed Capital, which supports early-stage companies in the Midwest.

NU researchers remain competitive in uncertain federal environment

Despite an uncertain federal landscape for research funding, University of Nebraska faculty remain highly competitive for grant funding and are continuing to advance their research in areas important to Nebraskans.

Dr. Ken Bayles, professor in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology and director of the Center for Staphylococcal Research at UNMC, a featured scientist during a research update to the Board of Regents

That was a key takeaway of a presentation on NU’s research progress to the Board of Regents this May. Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Susan Fritz told the Board that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Nebraska Medical Center are exceeding performance metrics, even at a time of increasing competition for federal grants, less available R&D funds, and an ongoing threat of sequestration.

Federal research expenditures on all four NU campuses were $184.5 million in 2013, a modest decline from the previous year but an increase over the $178 million total in 2010.

Prem Paul, vice chancellor for research and economic development at UNL, highlighted a number of strategies for continued success on his campus, including:

  • Building on and developing institutional research strengths, such as the Extreme Light Laboratory Laser Facility and the Center for NanoFerroic Devices.
  • Investing in infrastructure and equipment, including at the Center for Brain, Biology & Behavior and Nebraska Athletic Performance Lab, the Nano-Engineering Research Core Facility and the Ken Morrison Life Sciences Research Center.
  • Diversifying the research funding portfolio, by continuing to develop Department of Defense-funded research through the National Strategic Research Institute and continuing to partner with industry, private foundations and international organizations.
  • Establishing new partnerships, including with other NU campuses.
  • Increasing the campus’ research stature, in part by attracting talented new faculty and aggressively nominating faculty for more prestigious national awards.

UNL’s key growth goals include increasing total research expenditures to $300 million by 2018, with at least half of that from federal agencies.

Jennifer Larsen, vice chancellor for research at UNMC, told the Board that UNMC’s research goals include:

  • Growing funded research to $200 million.
  • Developing globally recognized research programs.
  • Improving the health of Nebraskans.
  • Supporting the National Strategic Research Institute and building bioengineering research teams.

UNMC’s research strengths include cancer, neuroscience, heart disease, infectious diseases, rural health and health disparities, genetics, transplantation, biotechnology, and musculoskeletal disease.


During its May meeting, the Board of Regents:

  • Approved a resolution endorsing the integrated strategic plan for the Peter Kiewit Institute and committing the Board to regularly monitor PKI’s performance to ensure that growth targets for enrollment, faculty hiring, research and other areas are met.
  • Approved the appointments of three new NU deans: Ali Khan, dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center; Janet Guthmiller, dean of the College of Dentistry at UNMC; and Joseph Francisco, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
  • Approved the creation of a bachelor’s degree in integrated science in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at UNL, a professional certificate in health policy in the College of Public Health at UNMC, and a bachelor’s degree in music in the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
  • Approved the operating agreement between UNL and the City of Lincoln for the John A. Breslow Ice Hockey Center at UNL. The terms of the 15-year agreement include that the university will design, construct, operate and maintain the Breslow Center, that 50 percent of prime-time ice time will be set aside for community rentals and open public skating from Sept. 1 to April 30 each year, and that the city will provide up to $40,000 annually to offset any annual operating deficits in the first five years of operation.
  • Approved an addition to and renovations in the Student Life Center at UNMC. The project will improve the campus experience for students, faculty and staff by providing a more useful, efficient, safe and inviting atmosphere for fitness activities along with the fitness infrastructure needed to accommodate existing demand and projected growth.
  • Approved several property purchases in Omaha which will be utilized consistent with UNMC’s long-term capital plan.
  • Approved plans for renovations and an addition at the Willis A. and Janet S. Strauss Performing Arts Center and for renovations at the Milo Bail Student Center at UNO.

  • Approved the naming of the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center at UNO, in honor of a generous gift from Barbara and Wallace Weitz. The facility is the only stand-alone, comprehensive, engagement-specific university facility in the country and cements UNO’s reputation as a leader in community engagement.


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.

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