May 3, 2019
It’s commencement season at the University of Nebraska – a time for us to celebrate the achievements of thousands of young people who are about to start a new chapter in their lives.
I am often asked to characterize the university’s impact on the state’s economy. To me, there’s almost no more powerful force for economic growth than the thousands of graduates Nebraska’s colleges and universities produce for the workforce every year, including 11,000 students who graduate annually from the University of Nebraska.
These young people are Nebraska’s future farmers and ranchers, nurses and doctors, teachers, artists and entrepreneurs. Upwards of 40 percent of them are the first in their families to attend college. Every graduating class of the University of Nebraska has a $2.4 billion impact on Nebraska’s economy.
“Nebraska is part of a fierce national competition for talent and jobs. We can be the hunter, or we can be the hunted.”
I know each diploma being handed out this week represents a story of hard work, sacrifice and opportunity. And each new graduate will be a catalyst for change for Nebraska’s quality of life and economic competitiveness.
There’s just one problem.
We are proud of our growth over time, but Nebraska is not producing nearly enough college graduates to solve the urgent workforce crisis facing our state.
In the years ahead, Nebraska will have 35,000 annual openings in the high-skill, high-demand, high-wage jobs that are key to our future prosperity – jobs like nursing, engineering and software development. Two-thirds of these jobs will require higher education. The needs exist from the eastern part of the state to the Panhandle.
It’s no surprise that every business leader I talk to says their top three needs are workforce, workforce and workforce. Nebraska is part of a fierce national competition for talent and jobs. We can be the hunter, or we can be the hunted.
As University of Nebraska-Lincoln Engineering Dean Lance Perez told our Board of Regents recently as he described double-digit job growth occurring in fields like electrical engineering and information systems management: “If we don’t get ahead of this, those jobs are going to go somewhere else. And that would be a real tragedy for the state of Nebraska.”
The good news is I am convinced the opportunities for Nebraska to lead in the race for talent have never been greater.
Our campuses are home to some of the best faculty in the world – teachers, scientists and doctors whose work is feeding a hungry world, protecting our women and men in uniform and developing new treatments for cancer.
We are fortunate to have the support of visionary and generous private partners who recognize our momentum and want to be a part of it.
And we have a strong partnership with the state that has ensured affordable, outstanding higher education for Nebraska students and families for more than 150 years.
That partnership is as important now as it has ever been. None of us can meet the urgent needs of our state alone.
Fortunately, elected leaders in Nebraska recognize the critical role higher education plays in building a strong future for the state. Chairman John Stinner, Vice Chairwoman Kate Bolz and members of the Appropriations Committee in particular have shown great foresight in developing a budget package that prioritizes education and economic growth. I am grateful for their leadership in building on the steps taken by Governor Ricketts and funding the University of Nebraska’s budget request. The Committee’s budget would keep tuition affordable for our 52,000 students and help the university turn the corner after a difficult fiscal period. I hope the full Legislature will agree.
As I’ve told my own children more times than they can count, the decisions we make determine the life we lead.
Nebraska has an opportunity to make decisions now that will impact the growth and prosperity of our state for generations to come. I hope we’ll decide to send the right message to the young people walking across the stage to collect their diploma – this week and years into the future.
Hank Bounds, Ph.D.
President, University of Nebraska
A message from President Bounds
A Message from President Bounds
March 25, 2019
To the Students, Faculty and Staff of the University of Nebraska:
I am writing to let you know that together with my family, I have made the difficult decision to step down as president of this great university.
The four years that I have spent serving alongside you have been among the most exciting and enriching of my career. Growing up, I never dreamed I would even go to college, much less have the opportunity to work with some of the most talented students, faculty and staff in the world. To have been entrusted with this role by the Board of Regents is the privilege of a lifetime.
While rewarding, this job has also been personally demanding. I have done everything I could to serve our students and the people of Nebraska effectively. Now, after more than 20 years in executive roles, it’s time for me to recharge and reconnect with my family.
We plan to return to the South, where much of our family lives, late this summer. I won’t be walking away from education, as one of the major goals in my career has always been to bring quality educational opportunities to all. Education transformed my own life, and I will continue to work to help young people experience that same transformative power.
I will leave knowing the University of Nebraska is in good hands. The President’s Office leadership team, and Chancellors Gold, Green and Kristensen and their teams, are a talented group. The Board of Regents has high expectations for our continued growth and momentum. Our faculty members are changing lives every day through their work in our classrooms, labs and fields.
And our students – the reason we come to work every day – convince me that Nebraska’s future is bright. I only wish I could have personally learned and told each of their 52,000 stories.
When I began this job, I said the University of Nebraska had the power to change the world. I believe that is more true today than ever. I can’t wait to see what you continue to achieve.
Thanks to each of you, and to all the people of Nebraska, for so warmly welcoming Susie, Will, Caroline and me as one of your own. We are forever grateful.
A message from University leadership on planning for the future
A message from University leadership on planning for the future
November 7, 2018
Earlier this year, 38 outstanding faculty members from across the University of Nebraska gathered to talk about the future.
Their charge: Build a framework for University fundraising priorities by articulating what makes an institution of higher learning great.
After a day of conversation, we had a list of characteristics that would inform our next steps. A great university is relentlessly focused on students, our faculty told us. A great university actively embraces diversity in all its forms. A great university does work that is relevant locally, but with potential for global impact.
We’re grateful to these faculty members for their initial vision and leadership. Now we’re ready to expand the conversation.
“At a time when public universities are uniquely positioned to solve the great challenges of the day—how should the University of Nebraska focus its energy to not only adapt to the future, but create it?”
You may have recently received an invitation from Provost Fritz to participate in the University-wide “Big Ideas” Initiative, a faculty-driven approach to private fundraising. We hope you’ll get engaged. Over the years we’ve seen time and again the power of philanthropy to elevate the reach of your work. Private gifts have allowed for new academic programs, cutting-edge facilities, and scholarships for thousands of students. They have been vital to our momentum, allowing us to do things that would not have been possible with state dollars alone.
We are now at a critical moment in our University’s history. For almost 150 years we have served the people of our state, educating the workforce and conducting the research that have grown Nebraska’s economy and quality of life.
What do we want to be in our next 150 years and beyond? At a time when public universities are uniquely positioned to solve the great challenges of the day—workforce shortages, inequities in access and opportunity, hunger and disease, international security—how should the University of Nebraska focus its energy to not only adapt to the future, but create it? How can a university like ours continue to recruit and retain the very best talent, drive and measure student success, and sustain vibrant economic growth across rural and urban communities? And how might philanthropic gifts advance our work in these and many other areas?
Our faculty, who carry out our missions of teaching, research, and service every day, are well-suited to answer these questions. This represents a new, more inclusive approach to fundraising for our University—one that relies first on the expertise of those who know our institution and the unique mission on each campus best.
We’re asking for your boldest ideas on how the University of Nebraska, with help from private fundraising, could dramatically elevate our work and impact. We’re interested in ideas that draw on the talents of multiple disciplines, departments, or campuses; ideas that could require investments of $25 million or more. We want your best thinking on what the University of Nebraska of tomorrow should look like and what steps we should take today to get there. We invite your proposals which, following a vetting process, could be used by our NU Foundation partners to attract and inspire private giving in the years ahead.
You may ask why we would undertake an initiative like this when we are still managing the effects of multiple rounds of budget cuts. There is no question we have faced significant challenges over the past few years. It is precisely for that reason that we think it’s especially important to look ahead. Because of you, we are on a remarkable upward trajectory in spite of our challenges. Now the young people of our state, the business leaders who hire our graduates, and people around the world who are healthier and more productive because of our research and outreach are counting on us to lead the way forward.
We’re excited to have this conversation with you. Thank you for your ideas, and for all you do for the University of Nebraska.
Hank M. Bounds, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Gold, M.D.
Ronnie Green, Ph.D.
Doug Kristensen, J.D.
LETTER | WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2018
LETTER | MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2018
OP-ED | THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2018
STATEMENT | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2018
LETTER | MONDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2018
LETTER | TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2018
LETTER | MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2018
LETTER | THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2018
LETTER | MONDAY, AUGUST 20, 2018
LETTER | THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2018
LETTER | FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2018
LETTER | TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2018
STATEMENT | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018
STATEMENT | TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
LETTER | THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2018
TESTIMONY | WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2018
LETTER | MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2018
LETTER | FRIDAY, JANUARY 26, 2018
LETTER | TUESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2018
OP-ED | FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 2018
A message from President Bounds on UNO-UNMC leadership planning
A message from President Bounds on UNO-UNMC leadership planning
November 5, 2018
To the Students, Faculty and Staff of UNO and UNMC:
Later today I will announce that I have named Dr. Jeff Gold as the “priority candidate” for UNO chancellor. Following a public feedback period, I will bring the Board of Regents a recommendation to approve Dr. Gold’s appointment as chancellor through June 30, 2022. At that time we plan to launch a national search for a successor, with the intent for both UNO and UNMC to have their own chancellor.
In short: Given where our university is right now, we have the right person in the role. Removing the “interim” from Dr. Gold’s UNO title provides the clarity and stability we need for the near future.
Over the past 18 months, since Dr. Gold first agreed to assume leadership of UNO, both UNO and UNMC have experienced remarkable growth and momentum. It is particularly impressive that you have built this long list of achievements – progress in student success, enrollment and research records, facilities expansion, growth in philanthropic activity – during a difficult budgetary period for our university.
“Dr. Gold’s continued leadership of both campuses puts us in the best position to enhance student outcomes, grow our research portfolio and deepen the cross-campus collaborations.”
Some would have been tempted to hunker down and wait for the challenges to pass. You have instead kept your focus on the future, and on the potential that UNO and UNMC have – individually and together – to transform even more lives in Nebraska and around the world.
We now have an opportunity to build on our trajectory. It is clear to me that Dr. Gold’s continued leadership of both campuses puts us in the best position to enhance student outcomes, grow our research portfolio and deepen the cross-campus collaborations that have yielded efficiencies and expanded our impact.
Over the past several days I have sought feedback on this decision from UNO and UNMC student, faculty, staff and administrative leadership. I heard comments about Dr. Gold’s care for and commitment to students, about his relentless focus on economic growth and Nebraskans’ well-being, about the work he has done to create partnerships that may not otherwise have existed. Leading two campuses is no easy task, and I am grateful for his willingness to serve in this way.
Of course, not every comment I’ve heard has been positive. I know some of you have concerns about the shared leadership structure. Certainly our university has faced unique challenges in recent years that have demanded innovative solutions. I hope greater clarity about our path forward will address some of the concerns. At the same time, you should be proud of the work you’ve done together to enhance our students’ experiences and find more effective, more efficient ways of doing business. That work cannot and should not stop on any of our campuses, no matter what the leadership structure looks like.
Thank you for all you do for the University of Nebraska. I am honored to serve alongside you.
By Hank Bounds