07/24/2017 President Bounds announces prestigious graduate fellowship recipients
President Bounds announces prestigious graduate fellowship recipients

University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds announced today the six recipients of 2017-18 Presidential Graduate Fellowships. The prestigious fellowships are awarded to a select group of NU graduate students each year on the basis of high scholastic performance and personal accomplishment. Fellows receive a stipend provided through the University of Nebraska Foundation that allows them to pursue their studies full-time.

This year, fellowships are presented to two students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, two from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and two from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The recipients are pursuing advanced degrees in exercise science, English, pharmaceutical sciences, biochemistry and molecular biology, sociology, and child, youth and family studies.

“Students who receive Presidential Graduate Fellowships are among our best and brightest. They are outstanding ambassadors of the University of Nebraska and I’m certain we’ll see great things from them in the future.”

“Students who receive Presidential Graduate Fellowships are among our best and brightest. They are outstanding ambassadors of the University of Nebraska and I’m certain we’ll see great things from them in the future,” Bounds said. “We’re fortunate to enjoy a level of private support that permits these talented students to fully devote themselves to their studies and research.”

This year’s Presidential Graduate Fellows are:

University of Nebraska at Omaha:

Jenny Kent

Jenny Kent, of Enfield, England, a Ph.D. student in exercise science/biomechanics. Kent earned her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Nottingham and M.S. in biomedical engineering from the University of Surrey, both in England. She developed an interest in researching lower limb prosthetics while working at a U.K. military rehabilitation center with individuals who had undergone traumatic amputation. Drawing on concepts from her coursework in mathematical chaos and motor control, she is specifically interested in better understanding how prosthesis users adapt and control their movement, in order to inform prosthetic prescription, design and rehabilitation techniques. Since arriving at UNO she has worked on a number of projects investigating locomotion and fall risk, and coordinated a team of undergraduate and graduate students working on NIH-funded research exploring balance interventions for people with amputation.

Kristine Langley Mahler

Kristine Langley Mahler, of Ralston, a master’s student in English. Mahler is currently conducting research, funded by a Graduate Research and Creative Activity grant, on immigration and inhabitation on native land through the lens of her French-Canadian ancestors. As an associate nonfiction editor for both Pithead Chapel and Profane, two online journals, she reviews dozens of submissions each month to write feedback and select pieces for publication. At the University of Iowa, where Mahler earned her bachelor’s degree, she was editor in chief of earthwords, the university’s undergraduate literary journal. Mahler has published a number of nonfiction pieces and has won awards for her writing, including Crab Orchard Review's Rafael Torch Award in Literary Nonfiction. Mahler carries a 4.0 GPA.

University of Nebraska Medical Center::

Fei Yu

Fei Yu, of China, a Ph.D. student in pharmaceutical sciences. Fei Yu’s primary research interest is in the development of polymers for drug delivery systems. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southeast University in Nanjing, China, and did graduate work at the University of Houston in Texas. At UNMC, she has explored polymers to deliver drugs and genes for cancer treatment under the mentorship of Professor David Oupický. She has published several research papers and will continue her research on combination drug delivery based on polymers.

Brandon Griess

Brandon Griess, of Hartington, a Ph.D. student in biochemistry and molecular biology. Griess’ research focuses on the interaction between breast cancer cells and the surrounding normal cells, especially a subset of immune cells, called macrophages. He studies treatments used to activate the macrophages to target and kill cancer cells. Griess earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. At UNMC, his research has received support from the National Institutes of Health and UNMC’s competitive graduate student assistantship program. He has received UNMC’s prestigious Berndt Graduate Student Travel Award, an Excellence in Oral Presentation award, and an Outstanding Performance Stipend. Griess has served as a teaching assistant and personal tutor at UNL.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Brandi Woodell,

Brandi Woodell, of Vivian, Louisiana, a Ph.D. student in sociology. Woodell studies how factors such as family support, community involvement and social discrimination affect the health disparities between sexual minorities and heterosexuals. She is especially interested in contributing new knowledge and insights about the health of “hidden” minority populations. For example, her dissertation aims to identify key resources available and missing from the lives of sexual minorities and heterosexuals in rural areas in order to develop strategies for better health-related outcomes. Woodell has been published in peer-reviewed publications and has given presentations at local, regional and national conferences. Her goal is to have a career in academia.

Aileen S. Garcia-Avanzado

Aileen S. Garcia-Avanzado, of the Philippines, a Ph.D. student in child, youth and family studies. As a teacher in her native Philippines, Garcia witnessed firsthand how important education is to improving lives and fighting poverty. Her experience there solidified her interest in investigating how psychological and educational concepts can be integrated in order to promote higher achievement among low-income children. At Nebraska, Garcia has worked with a range of fellow students and faculty in teaching, research and extension in order to apply an interdisciplinary lens to her studies and gain a broad understanding of how poverty impacts family dynamics and child development. She has co-authored papers, led research projects, and is currently working on her dissertation on parental involvement in education among low-income families in the Philippines.

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06/08/2017 An update on budget planning from university leadership
An update on budget planning from university leadership

May 30, 2017

To the Faculty, Staff and Students of the University of Nebraska:

As you likely know, the Legislature has concluded its session after finalizing a two-year budget package for the state, including funding for the University of Nebraska. With our state appropriation known, we can move forward on other pieces of our budget, including tuition increases and the cost reduction efforts we began earlier this year.

The outcome of the legislative session is not what we had hoped for. Between reductions approved by the Legislature and additional cuts from Governor Ricketts’ vetoes – and when unavoidable cost increases like health insurance are factored in – we will face a recurring budget shortfall of $49 million by summer 2019.

While this is a challenging budget situation, your good work has helped ensure that our state funding was not reduced more deeply. Your efforts in serving as outstanding ambassadors for the university, in inspiring Nebraskans to speak out in our support, and in reminding the people of our state of the vital work we do in teaching, research and service have made a difference. We’re truly appreciative.

“We must view this challenge as an opportunity to think together about what kind of university we want to be in the future.”

Our budget situation and the increasingly competitive higher education landscape mean we will have to adapt quickly. We must do everything we can to emerge as a stronger university, even better positioned to join with our partners to grow Nebraska’s economy and quality of life.

Later today the University will release its proposed 2017-18 operating budget, including our plans for addressing our shortfall. The budget will go before the Board of Regents on June 1. Here are the key elements, in advance of their wider release:


We know students and parents are working hard to invest in a college education. The proposed budget sets tuition rates for the next two years to help students and families plan, and includes tuition increases. In 2017-18, most resident undergraduates would pay $10 to $12 more per credit hour. In 2018-19, a typical resident undergraduate would pay $6 to $7.50 more per credit hour. This is subject to change if our state funding is cut further.

We do not make this recommendation lightly. As you know, state funding and tuition are the major sources of revenue for university operations, and moderate increases in tuition will help us close our budget gap while maintaining the quality of education our students deserve. The increase preserves our affordability, especially considering that we will increase need-based aid at the same rate as tuition. Our campuses will remain a great value compared to similar institutions.

Cost Reductions

In January, we shared a university-wide process for re-imagining our operations. Our goal was to reduce spending, while also positioning us to deliver on our mission. This will help us as we face a future in which resources will continue to be limited.

Nearly 100 of our employees served on Budget Response Teams that recommended cuts in areas like finance, human resources, IT and travel. We are grateful for their hard work, and we will continue to engage stakeholders on cost reduction ideas as we analyze implementation options. Based on our conversations with team members, we project we could realize up to $30 million in savings over the next several years – savings that will help us protect our academic core.

Reducing our operating costs by this amount will be challenging. But with challenge comes opportunity – to be more collaborative, to become more productive, and to create the kind of university we want to be. We’re going to be totally focused on the future – engaging Nebraskans about what their university can do to continue to grow the economy, meet the needs of the workforce, improve lives as we have done for nearly 150 years.

We invite you to join us in that conversation. Please continue to send your ideas and questions to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We’ll update you when new information on our budget planning is available and in the meantime, we look forward to your ongoing ideas and input.

Thank you for all you do for the University of Nebraska.

Hank M. Bounds, Ph.D.
President, University of Nebraska

Jeffrey Gold, M.D.
Chancellor, University of Nebraska Medical Center and Interim Chancellor, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Ronnie Green, Ph.D.
Chancellor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Doug Kristensen, J.D.
Chancellor, University of Nebraska at Kearney

06/13/2017 UNL Mabel Lee Hall Consultant Selection
06/08/2017 A message from university leadership on our budget planning
A message from university leadership on our budget planning

June 8, 2017

Dear Colleagues:

Last week we wrote to you regarding our budget planning, including our work to cut costs to manage reductions in state funding. We’ve pledged to update you frequently throughout this process. Today we have new information to share.

The Board of Regents has approved the university’s operating budget for 2017-18, including our approach for managing a recurring $49 million shortfall resulting from funding cuts and rising expenses. We’ll close the gap with a combination of spending cuts and revenue – choices that, while difficult, protect to the greatest extent possible our affordability and the quality of our academic enterprise.

We’re in a position to protect those priorities because of your good work, and we’re grateful. As we’ve said all along, however, cuts to our budget become even more challenging when viewed together with state funding trends over time that have required us to become a lean institution already. We will manage this budget, but there’s no question that with additional cuts we would not be able to keep tuition increases as moderate as they are now – or limit our cost reductions to operational areas.

“Changing the way we do business will take time and will have a broad impact across the university. We’ll learn as we go along.”

The budget approved by the Board depends on $30 million in university-wide cuts over the next several years. As you know, “Budget Response Teams” made up of subject matter experts in areas like information technology, facilities and finance have been working since January to find cost savings. These colleagues have done diligent, thoughtful, difficult work. They deserve our thanks.

We are now beginning to finalize the teams’ recommendations and move to an implementation phase. While we’re still working through final decisions, we do know that they will include a range of changes. In some cases, we’ve identified more efficient processes or structures that will allow us to serve students and Nebraskans more collaboratively. Some of the changes will impact jobs. We expect to lose more than 100 positions, through attrition where possible and only after careful consideration and communication about decisions of this magnitude.

Changing the way we do business will take time and will have a broad impact across the university. We’ll learn as we go along. For example, new processes in how we contract with vendors will save us money in the long term, but may interrupt or slow down purchasing within colleges or departments as we adjust. We are moving with a sense of urgency, but we’re much more interested in getting this right – in putting lasting changes in place that will position us for long-term success.

To that end, we are pleased to tell you that Dr. Marjorie Kostelnik, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln since 2000, is stepping down to become senior associate to the president on July 1 to lead implementation of the Budget Response Teams’ recommendations. Chancellor Green has communicated with his campus about plans for interim leadership for the college and a national search for a permanent successor.

Marjorie has decades of experience as a faculty member, has steered her college through significant change and has a deep understanding of our governance, processes and our university-wide mission. She is an excellent choice to lead us through this process in close partnership with Budget Response Team members.

There’s another story that came out of last week’s regents meeting – a story that may not have gotten as many headlines as our budget, but which is equally important to the momentum and competitiveness of our university and state. The Board approved three new centers of excellence, in food for health, global health security and child health.

Each of these centers will take advantage of unique strengths on all four of our campuses for maximum impact. Each will transform lives in Nebraska and around the world. Each elevates our reputation in areas that matter. Each is a game-changer.

In remarks to the Board, one of our faculty members said it best: We have audacious goals. We do indeed. We are managing a challenging period – but we’re also looking ahead, thinking about what we can do to educate students, conduct research and grow our economy in new and innovative ways. Now, more than ever, the state of Nebraska needs its university to be an engine for growth. We are ready to lead the way.

We welcome your continued feedback and ideas. Please visit www.nebraska.edu/budgetplanning for the latest budget-related information, or submit comments and questions to us directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thank you, as always, for all you do for the University of Nebraska.

Hank M. Bounds, Ph.D.
University of Nebraska

Jeffrey Gold, M.D.
University of Nebraska Medical Center
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Ronnie Green, Ph.D.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Doug Kristensen, J.D.
University of Nebraska at Kearney

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