By James B. Milliken
President, University of Nebraska
One of the most critical challenges our nation faces is protecting our citizens and our allies against nuclear, chemical, biological, cyber and other types of attacks. The University of Nebraska is well positioned to help address these critical national security challenges. Our faculty conduct highly regarded research in vaccine development, nuclear forensics, information technology, consequence management and other areas, and our academic programs include one of the only space, cyber and telecommunications law programs in the world.
We’ve taken a significant step forward with a new partnership announced recently between the university and the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) at Offutt Air Force Base. Through our partnership, we will create a University-Affiliated Research Center focused on research and development that will make our country safer. The UARC will leverage the leading expertise of our faculty in physics, nanoscience, engineering, computer science, psychology, law, epidemiology and many other areas for the benefit our nation and the men and women serving in the military. It was a proud moment when my university colleagues and I joined USSTRATCOM leaders and members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation to announce this important initiative.
The University of Nebraska becomes one of only 14 U.S. institutions to host a UARC, joining an esteemed group that includes the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Texas. Research funding from the Department of Defense to our campuses has already grown significantly over the past decade – from about $7.3 million to $34.8 million – and the UARC will position us to grow that figure significantly, helping to attract talent to Nebraska and create quality jobs and unique opportunities for our students.
Of course, while this partnership with STRATCOM is new, the impetus for our participation in the UARC is similar to that of other university-wide initiatives that we have launched recently, including those in water and food security, early childhood education and rural futures. All of these initiatives, and now the UARC, are grounded in the same basic principle: That a 21st-century land-grant university can and should address in a significant way some of the great challenges facing the world. All will leverage the talents of our faculty and the wisdom of our partners for a much broader benefit. All will enable us to expand our research focus and grow the knowledge economy in Nebraska. All will serve Nebraska as well as the country and the world.
The UARC provides a tremendous opportunity for the university to contribute to critical challenges related to defense and national security, and my colleagues and I look forward to working with our partners at STRATCOM to advance our shared goals. I thank Gen. C. Robert Kehler, STRATCOM commander, for his leadership and support, and U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, who has long been an advocate for university research and chairs the Strategic Forces Subcommittee on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee. The entire Nebraska congressional delegation strongly supports our efforts and we are deeply appreciative of their help.
It is a distinct honor for the University of Nebraska to host a University-Affiliated Research Center. We are prepared to support the missions of USSTRATCOM and deliver results that can make Nebraskans proud.