June 19, 2015
By Hank Bounds
President, University of Nebraska
The first priority of the University of Nebraska is to make sure students and families in our state have access to affordable, quality higher education.
Our goal has never been more important. While we can’t predict what the jobs of the future will be, we do know virtually all of them will require education beyond high school. That means if we are to successfully grow Nebraska’s economy, we need to expand access to our universities and colleges to many more students.
The University of Nebraska budget approved recently by the Board of Regents achieves our goals for both affordability and quality, thanks in large part to the investment from the state provided by Gov. Pete Ricketts, Sen. Heath Mello and his colleagues on the Appropriations Committee, and members of the Legislature. I’m grateful for their support, which continues a tradition of partnership between the university and state based on shared goals for education and economic growth.
Most important, our budget ensures the University of Nebraska will remain affordable. Our plan includes two years of tuition rates – a 1.75 percent tuition increase for 2015-16 and a 2.5 percent increase for 2016-17 – in order to help students and families better plan for the costs of college. The increases are the lowest in nearly three decades following a two-year tuition freeze for Nebraskans.
As a parent myself, I know any increase in tuition has an impact on students. We take these decisions seriously. The increases for the next two years amount to about $3.50 more per credit hour for Nebraska undergraduates in 2015-16 and an additional $5 per credit hour for 2016-17. These moderate increases will maintain our affordability while creating revenue to invest in priorities like competitive salaries, financial aid and quality academic programs – all things our students expect us to provide.
Even with the tuition increases, a University of Nebraska education is a tremendous value. Resident tuition and fees on our campuses are at least 25 percent below the peer averages. And, most students do not pay the “sticker price;” well over half of our undergraduates receive aid that they do not have to pay back. We will increase our investments in need-based financial aid the next two years at the same rates as tuition so net tuition costs for students with the greatest need do not go up.
Our budget also includes strategic investments in university faculty and staff and programs to strengthen Nebraska’s economy. Targeted economic development investments supported by the Governor and Legislature will expand educational opportunities for students, meet workforce needs and create jobs. The state’s investments in these initiatives – the Health Science Education Complex at UNK, a biomedical technology institute led by UNMC and UNO, a new global trade and finance institute at UNL named in honor of alumnus and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter, and a new simulated learning center at UNMC – will yield long-term returns. Additionally, the state’s support for the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture will allow us to make important investments in talent and build on the college’s momentum.
Finally, our budget plan will require us to be cost-effective and make cuts – an estimated $8 million over the next two years. Cuts are never easy, but like any Nebraska family or business, we have a responsibility to manage our resources effectively. We will continue to look for ways to operate more efficiently.
The university’s budget plan puts students and families first, ensuring that we will continue to provide an excellent education at a competitive cost. I thank the Governor, members of the Legislature, our faculty and staff, students and friends of the university for helping us maintain our momentum in serving Nebraskans.
President's U-Wide Letter: University of Nebraska budget proposal
June 5, 2015
I am writing to update you on the university’s budget planning. As you may know, one important piece of our budget – state funding – was finalized recently when the Governor approved a state budget package for 2015-17 that includes critical support for our core operations as well as economic development and other initiatives across our campuses. I am grateful to the Governor and Legislature for their investment in the university, which will allow us to maintain affordability and build on the momentum we have sustained thanks to your good work.
We will never have the resources to do everything we want to do. But I believe our proposed budget is a strategic and responsible plan that serves the needs of students and families, improves our competitive position in the marketplace for talent, advances key initiatives that will grow our state’s economy, and demonstrates accountability to those who entrust their resources to us. It is a plan that is possible because of our continued partnership with the state, and because of your commitment to excellence in teaching, research and service. Your hard work has positioned us well for the future.
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.
President’s Op-Ed: Celebrating the success and potential of the Class of 2015
May 21, 2015
By Hank Bounds
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.
President's U-Wide Letter: Honoring excellence in teaching, research and service
May 12, 2015
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
Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award
Innovation, Development and Engagement Award
University-wide Departmental Teaching Award
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.