05/21/2015 President’s Op-Ed: Celebrating the success and potential of the Class of 2015

May 21, 2015

By Hank Bounds
President, University of Nebraska

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in commencement ceremonies on each of the University of Nebraska’s campuses. To the 6,500 students with new credentials from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska-Lincoln or Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture; to their family members, friends and mentors who helped them along the way; and to the thousands of others graduating from state, community and private colleges this spring: Congratulations on all that you’ve accomplished. You should be proud of the hard work you’ve put in to get to this point.

For me there is no time quite like commencement. Watching our students walk across that stage, seeing the look of pride on their faces, hearing the cheers of their supporters, knowing they’re about to begin a new chapter of their lives – these are some of the greatest joys of my job. Celebrating these moments with students is an inspiring reminder of why I’ve chosen to spend my career in education.

I know from firsthand experience the transformative effect a college degree can have on a person’s life. Growing up, I never imagined I would someday address the Class of 2015 as president of one of America’s great universities. But higher education opened doors for me that I wouldn’t have thought possible. I believe it will do the same for students earning their degrees today.

Each of this year’s graduates has a unique story about how they achieved this milestone.

Some are the first in their families to finish college – and they are due a special congratulations. I understand the unique challenges faced by first-generation students and the University of Nebraska is working hard to make sure many more of them have the resources they need to be successful.

Other graduates were new to Nebraska when they began their college careers – indeed, our student body represents all 50 states and more than 130 countries – and we hope they will consider staying here to begin careers or raise families.

Many students had the chance to participate in internships, study abroad, service learning or extracurricular activities that enriched their educational experience and helped prepare them for life and work.

I hope all of the graduates were able to find their passion, be it agriculture, teaching, health care, fine arts, entrepreneurship, science, math or something else.

Most of all, I hope each of them developed the skills that create a foundation for success no matter what path they choose next: a curiosity about the world around them; the ability to think critically; a sense of humility and compassion for others. And I hope they have learned to dream big. That is one of the greatest gifts a University of Nebraska education provides to our students: the opportunity to dream big.

Congratulations again to the Class of 2015. I am proud of each of you. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.

Date Recipient
05/20/2015 STATEMENT: 2015-17 budget package signed by Governor Ricketts

“The budget package signed today by Governor Ricketts represents an important investment in affordable, high-quality education at the University of Nebraska. I am grateful to the Governor for his support and look forward to many more years of working together to achieve our shared goals for education and economic development. I also want to thank Chairman Mello, his colleagues on the Appropriations Committee, and members of the Legislature for their hard work and recognition of the important role the university plays in the state’s success.

“The support the Legislature and Governor have provided to the university will allow us to meet some of our most important objectives. One, keep tuition affordable for students and families. Two, fund the core operations of the university, including investments in talent. And three, advance initiatives – including the Health Science Education Complex in Kearney and UNMC-UNO biomedical technology institute – that will meet workforce needs and expand educational opportunities. Additionally, the support for the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture will allow it to build on its momentum in serving Nebraska agriculture.

“Finally, the state’s investment in the UNMC Global Center for Advanced Interprofessional Learning is a vital jump-start for this initiative which has the potential to transform the way medical education is delivered in our state. I am grateful to policymakers for their vote of confidence.”

04/28/2015 President’s Monthly Op-Ed: Listening and learning about Nebraskans’ dreams for their university

By Hank Bounds
President, University of Nebraska

In my first week as president of the University of Nebraska, I traveled 1,500 miles, visited more than 20 communities, and talked to hundreds of Nebraskans about their hopes and dreams for the future of their state and its only public university.

I met with faculty and students, state and community college partners, farmers and ranchers, business leaders and educators, donors and alumni and many others. I stopped at university campuses, research and extension facilities, rural high schools and numerous community venues. And, as I drove from the eastern part of the state to its westernmost corners, I saw firsthand the spectacular diversity of Nebraska. I know now that you can’t appreciate the beauty of the Sandhills until you have been there.

My “listening and learning” tour of our state is far from over. But already, you have taught me a great deal. I am indebted to the many Nebraskans who have taken time to engage with me during my initial days as president of this great institution. Two weeks in, I’m even more excited to serve in this role than when I accepted the job. I’ve dreamed of having an opportunity to be in a place where I could help change the world. In the University of Nebraska presidency, I have found that opportunity.

It would be impossible to cover everything I learned during my travels across the state. But this much is clear: The people of Nebraska care deeply about the success of their university.

You want to see us working to improve your communities – producing more skilled graduates, meeting workforce needs in health care and agriculture and business and other areas, attracting new talent to our state and keeping the bright young people we have.

You want to see us working hand in glove with our partners at Nebraska’s state and community colleges, doing all we can to make sure students can transfer smoothly between institutions and stay on the path to a degree.

You want us to make sure a college education remains within reach for all Nebraska students and families. You want your children to be able to earn a four-year degree without taking on too much debt. You want to know that we understand higher education is an investment and that we are taking steps to keep the university affordable. As the parent of two young children myself, I assure you: We do understand, and we are taking those steps.

You want to see our campuses working together as one university, combining our talents and resources in ways that best serve the state.

And you want to see us do more to tell our story – to share more about the good work the university’s faculty, staff and students are doing and how Nebraska is benefiting.

As president, I am committed to doing all these things, and many more. I continue to be humbled to serve in this role and I’m grateful for the input that so many Nebraskans have provided. I look forward to meeting many more of you in the weeks and months ahead as we work together to build the University of Nebraska into a true giant in higher education, changing the lives of people in our state and around the world.

05/12/2015 President's U-Wide Letter: Honoring excellence in teaching, research and service

May 12, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the honor of recognizing six outstanding University of Nebraska faculty members and one academic department for achievements in teaching, research and service. Presenting the university’s most prestigious faculty and departmental awards – the Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award, Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award, Innovation, Development and Engagement Award, and the University-wide Departmental Teaching Award – has been one of the highlights of my presidency so far. Faculty truly are among the greatest assets of any leading university, and at the University of Nebraska we are lucky to be home to some of the very best.

This year’s winners are a diverse group – representing medicine, agriculture, science and other disciplines. But they share a deep commitment to the University of Nebraska’s most fundamental responsibilities: educating our students, conducting important and relevant research, and putting their skills to work to serve Nebraskans and people around the world. I am inspired by their work.

The 2015 awardees follow. We developed a video for each winner; I invite you to learn more about our honorees and the good work they are doing by clicking on their names below.

Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award

  • Charles Wood, Ph.D., Lewis Lehr/3M University Distinguished Professor and director of the Nebraska Center for Virology at UNL, who has devoted his career to driving innovations in HIV/AIDS research that have resulted in new prevention and management efforts and new treatment methods that suppress the virus.

  • Wayne Fisher, Ph.D., H.B. Munroe Professor of Behavioral Research and director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at UNMC, who is dedicated to improving the lives of children with autism.

Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award

  • Chandrakanth Are, M.B.B.S., vice chair of education for the Department of Surgery, associate professor of surgical oncology, and program director for general surgery residency at UNMC, who has earned a reputation as an innovative educator, meticulous surgeon and someone with exemplary dedication to patients.

  • Martha Mamo, Ph.D., professor of agronomy at UNL, whose teaching methods are inspiring students’ interest in soil sciences and whose research is advancing global food security.

Innovation, Development and Engagement Award

  • Stephen Reichenbach, Ph.D., professor of computer science and engineering at UNL and founding director of GC Image LLC, who is a role model to colleagues interesting in pursuing collaborative research or developing university-based spinoff companies.

  • Michael Epstein, Ed.D., William E. Barkley Professor of Special Education and director of the Center for Child and Family Well-Being at UNL, whose research on improving the lives of children with behavioral and mental health disorders has resulted in a major shift in the field of child mental health.

University-wide Departmental Teaching Award

  • UNL Department of Entomology, whose faculty are widely known for their student-focused approach, innovative ideas, and commitment to sharing their knowledge in the community.

Congratulations again to the 2015 recipients of the University of Nebraska’s highest honors for teaching, research and service. These faculty – together with employees across our campuses – are a key reason why the university is in a strong position today to become a giant in higher education. I continue to be humbled and honored to serve with such talented, energetic and committed colleagues. Thank you for all that you do for the University of Nebraska, our students, and people in our state and around the world.

Hank Bounds
President, University of Nebraska

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