"John Christensen is exactly the right leader for UNO," Milliken said. "As the first Omahan and UNO graduate to serve as Chancellor, he brings a connection with and love for both community and campus. More importantly, he is focused on the future of this remarkable institution and will provide strong and able leadership."
The installation of a chancellor is a long-standing tradition in the academic community, and is rich with history and symbolism. The event is intended to bring together the academy and the public, creating an opportunity for reflection and celebration of the institution and of higher education.
The theme for the event, "Living the Future; Understanding the Past," is based on a quotation from Danish philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard who said, "Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards." John Langan, Dean of the UNO College of Education, and Chairman of the installation planning committee, said the theme was selected to celebrate Dr. Christensen’s Danish heritage and to focus attention on UNO’s past accomplishments and bright future. The institution will soon celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding.
"John Christensen knows both the university and the city of Omaha from a long-term relationship, and he cares deeply about both," Langan said. "The University of Nebraska at Omaha has had a long-standing position captured in a short statement which says, 'UNO is a part of the community, not apart from the community.’ This tradition will become even more apparent under the leadership of John Christensen."
Robert Hemenway, Chancellor of the University of Kansas, will deliver featured remarks at the installation ceremony. Dr. Hemenway received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1963 – and Dr. Christensen received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1980.
Others speaking at the event include Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey, NU Board of Regents Chairman Chuck Wilson, UNO Student Regent Alex Williams, UNO professor Scott Tarry, staff member Jennifer Forbes-Baily and alumna Deb McLarney. The installation ceremony will begin with a procession of representatives from Nebraska’s public and private colleges and universities and faculty in academic regalia and will feature musical performances by UNO faculty and students.
Dr. Christensen has spent his entire academic career at UNO, beginning in 1978 as a faculty member in the College of Education’s Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders. He served as chair of that department for 12 years. He went on to become Dean of the College of Education and Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs before being named Interim Chancellor in September, 2006, and Chancellor in April, 2007, following a national search.
Dr. Christensen received his bachelor’s degree in speech and communication from Dana College in Blair, his master’s degree in speech-language pathology from UNO and his doctorate in speech-language pathology from KU. He is the first UNO graduate to serve as its chancellor. Dr. Christensen has been active in Omaha community affairs as well as national professional organizations relating to his academic field. He and his wife, Jan, have three adult sons.
The installation ceremony is open to the public and the campus community and will be followed by a reception at the Milo Bail Student Center. The ceremony also will be available online as streaming video at www.unomaha.edu, and will be broadcast live by UNO-TV on the "The Knowledge Network," Cox cable channel 17 and Qwest Choice channel 74. The ceremony will be re-broadcast at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, on both channels.