October/November 2012
October/November 2012
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Board of Regents

Jim McClurg
District 5

Tim Clare
Vice Chair
District 1

Howard Hawks
District 2

Chuck Hassebrook
District 3

Bob Whitehouse
District 4

Kent Schroeder
District 6

Bob Phares
District 7

Randy Ferlic
District 8

Faisal Ahmed

Devin Bertelsen

Cameron Deter

Eric Kamler

Carmen Maurer
Corporation Secretary

James B. Milliken

News Briefs

During its October and November meetings, the Board:
  • Heard an overview of the new University-Affiliated Research Center. The UARC, one of only 14 in the country, is a partnership between the university and the U.S. Strategic Command. It is a university-wide initiative housed in NU’s National Strategic Research Institute that will focus on research and development related to defense and national security. The UARC will leverage the expertise of NU faculty in areas such as nuclear detection and forensics, detection of chemical and biological weapons, passive defense against weapons of mass destruction, consequence management, and space, cyber and telecommunciations law. The initial UARC contract provides for up to $84 million in research funding.
  • Received a report on a new Memorandum of Understanding between the UNL College of Law and UNMC College of Public Health to create a Juris Doctorate and Master of Public Health dual degree program. The JD/MPH dual degree will be offered beginning next fall and will make the University of Nebraska one of only 22 programs in the country to offer such a degree.
  • Approved a new Bachelor of Science in applied climate science at UNL. The program will launch in August 2014.
  • Approved the Center for Urban Sustainability at UNO.
  • Approved the program statement and budget for renovation of Brace Laboratory at UNL. Renovation will position UNL to better meet increasing demand for life sciences courses and increase the physical capacity limits in these programs, thereby allowing enrollment to grow.
  • Heard a report on the university’s progress in reducing energy consumption. The university aims to reduce energy consumption and demand per square foot by 10 percent at UNK, UNL and UNO, and by 25 percent at UNMC and The Nebraska Medical Center, by 2015. Progress continues on each campus; for example, UNMC’s utility costs were $1.5 million less during the first nine months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2010 – an especially impressive accomplishment given the extreme heat in Nebraska this year.
  • Heard a brief report on the potential impact of sequestration, a combination of tax increases and $1 trillion in across-the-board federal funding cuts that will go into effect in January if Washington fails to agree on a deficit reduction plan. Sequestration likely would include significant cuts to federal research and financial aid funding (with the exception of the Pell Grant program, which is protected for one year), although the exact impact is not yet known.
  • Bid farewell to outgoing Regents Chuck Hassebrook, Jim McClurg and Randy Ferlic and Student Regent Faisal Ahmed. The University of Nebraska is deeply appreciative of the outstanding service these Board members have provided on behalf of Nebraskans.

Report from the University of Nebraska Board of Regents: October/November 2012

Regents approve program statement, budget for UNMC cancer research tower

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents has approved plans for a $110 million cancer research tower at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, paving the way for a critical component of UNMC’s larger cancer center project that aims to improve health care in the state, create high-paying jobs and enhance the university’s reputation in cancer treatment and research.

image1 The UNMC campus. The planned cancer research tower is north of the Durham Research Center.

The research tower is being funded with $50 million in state funds approved by the Governor and Legislature earlier this year, plus $60 million in private funds. Construction is scheduled to begin in August 2013 and be completed in April 2016.

The 252,000-square foot, multi-level research tower will feature:
  • 98 state-of-the-art laboratories dedicated to disease-specific cancer research, including breast, brain, pancreatic, gastrointestinal, prostate, lung, head and neck, and women’s cancer, as well as leukemia and lymphoma, and cancer vaccine and drug development.
  • Laboratory support space and faculty offices.
  • Space to facilitate research and clinical staff collaborations.
  • Teaching and student support space.

Construction of the research tower will position UNMC to significantly expand its research activities. In the past four years, UNMC’s research funding from external sources has increased by 39 percent, to nearly $90 million – keeping UNMC on track to achieve its goal of $200 million in funded research. Given that UNMC’s current laboratory space is nearing capacity, additional space will be critical to continued funding growth.

The overall $370 million cancer center project also includes a multidisciplinary outpatient clinic, a hospital tower with 108 beds dedicated to oncology patients, and an ambulatory care clinic dedicated to non-oncology specialties. The cancer center will create thousands of quality jobs in Nebraska and position UNMC to achieve Comprehensive Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute, an honor held by only about 40 institutions in the country. Most importantly, the cancer center will help UNMC continue to provide outstanding care to the thousands of Nebraskans across the state battling cancer.

The cancer center was one component of the university’s Building a Healthier Nebraska legislative initiative. The initiative also included an expansion at the University of Nebraska at Kearney for UNMC nursing and allied health programs, a new Veterinary Diagnostic Center at the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources – both of which also received state support this year – and a new Lincoln division of the UNMC College of Nursing, which did not receive state funding this year but remains the university’s highest capital priority in the Legislature.

Plans for new UNO arena underway

The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s plans to build a new arena moved a step forward after the Board of Regents authorized President James B. Milliken to enter into a letter of intent with developers for construction.

image2 Artist’s rendering of the arena

The proposed 7,500-seat arena would be located between 66th and 68th streets south of Center Street, and would be used for by the UNO hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, and volleyball programs, as well as for other university and community events such as commencements and concerts.

In a presentation to the Board, UNO Chancellor John Christensen and Athletic Director Trev Alberts said the arena has the potential to be “transformative” for the university. Not only would it establish a home for UNO athletics, it could enhance the student experience at UNO and help the campus’ recruitment efforts as it seeks to grow enrollment to 20,000.

The arena is projected to cost $76.3 million. A significant share of that – about $35 million – is expected to come from private donors, with developer financing and City of Omaha and other funds also expected to contribute. City of Omaha funds will be sought primarily for infrastructure costs, such as roads, bridges and sewers.

Regents approve new Rural Futures Institute

The Board of Regents approved the creation of the Rural Futures Institute, a university-wide, multidisciplinary initiative that will address challenges and issues impacting rural regions in Nebraska and beyond. The institute will leverage the talents and resources of the university’s four campuses and partners across the state to create a vibrant, competitive rural environment in Nebraska, in other states and around the world. Faculty from agriculture and natural resources, rural health and education, law, community planning and other disciplines will be involved.

Ultimately, the Rural Futures Institute aims to become a global leader in supporting rural growth and development through entrepreneurship and innovation.

The university held its inaugural Rural Futures Conference in May; nearly 500 people attended. The 2013 Rural Futures Conference will be held Nov. 3-5, 2013, in Lincoln.

Enrollment holds steady above 50,000; international student enrollment reaches record high

Enrollment at the University of Nebraska’s four campuses plus the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture held steady this fall, decreasing slightly to 50,178, according to an annual enrollment report to the Board.

UNL and UNO have goals to grow enrollment by about 5,000 each in the coming years. In order to achieve its growth goals, the university will need to help increase the college-going rate in Nebraska by expanding access through programs like Collegebound Nebraska; attract more nonresident students, including international students; and increase online enrollment through NU’s Online Worldwide.

Success in international student enrollment is a highlight this year, with a record 3,475 students from more than 130 countries enrolled on the university’s campuses. That represents a 10 percent increase over last year and keeps NU on pace to meet its goal of doubling international student enrollment, to 6,000, by the end of the decade as part of its overall strategy for global engagement.

To help welcome new international students and stress the importance of global engagement to the university and the state, President James B. Milliken and Gov. Dave Heineman have co-hosted international student events this fall in Lincoln, Omaha and Kearney.

Other highlights of the Board’s enrollment report:
  • Nonresident undergraduate enrollment grew to 5,771.
  • The university-wide freshman-to-sophomore retention rate increased slightly to 80.9 percent.
  • The share of Nebraska high school graduates in the top 25 percent of their class who enrolled at NU decreased slightly to 46.6 percent.
  • The number of distance-only students enrolled through Online Worldwide increased 3.5 percent, to more than 6,000.

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