The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has announced three finalists in its internal search to hire the next executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.
Candidates identified as finalists by the search committee are:
Katherine Ankerson, dean of the College of Architecture;
Michael (Mike) Boehm, Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and NU Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources; and
William G. Thomas III, associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences, professor of history, and John and Catherine Angle Chair in the Humanities.
Candidate interviews are Dec. 13-16 with public presentations at 3 to 4 p.m. in the Nebraska Union’s Swanson Auditorium. The public presentations (full schedule below) include opportunities to attend in person and via Zoom.
Nebraska’s executive vice chancellor reports directly to the chancellor, is the chief academic officer and is the responsible authority in the absence of the chancellor. The position leads and coordinates the university’s academic enterprise. The university’s academic deans, other than those in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, report directly to the executive vice chancellor.
The search will replace Elizabeth Spiller, who recently stepped down from the role for family reasons. Spiller served as the university’s executive vice chancellor since March 2020. Bob Wilhelm, vice chancellor for research and economic development, is serving in an interim role as the executive vice chancellor.
The search committee was led by co-chairs Sherri Jones, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences; and Steve Kolbe, president of the Faculty Senate and associate professor in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.
When the search was announced Oct. 15, Chancellor Ronnie Green said the university aims to announce a new executive vice chancellor in time for the spring semester.
Finalist bios, listed chronologically by interview date, are below.
William G. Thomas III
Associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences | Professor of history | Angle Chair in the Humanities
Interview date — Dec. 13
Public presentation — 3 to 4 p.m. Dec. 13, Swanson Auditorium, Nebraska Union
A national leader in digital history, Thomas pursues groundbreaking research into the U.S. Civil War with a focus on the southern states and slavery.
He joined the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Department of History in 2005 and served as chair from 2010-2016. Thomas is co-founder of the Nebraska Digital Workshop/Forum on Digital Humanities and has led the development of digital history courses on campus.
As a fellow of the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, Thomas’ projects include the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded “Railroads and the Making of Modern America,” and “O Say Can You See: Early Washington, D.C., Law and Family.” The latter is the basis for his prize-winning book, “A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War” (Yale University Press, 2020), an award-winning film “Anna,” and the feature film (currently in production) “The Bell Affair.” He also co-directs History Harvest, a project that partners with undergraduate students and the local community to collect, digitize and archive historical artifacts.
A Guggenheim Fellow, Thomas co-led the Nebraska 150 Commission — which created a strategic plan for the university — and is an ex-officio member of the N150 Strategy Team, which is implementing the plan.
Thomas received Master of Arts and a doctoral degree from the University of Virginia, and a Bachelor of Arts from Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut.
Dean of the College of Architecture
Interview date — Dec. 14
Public presentation — 3 to 4 p.m. Dec. 14, Swanson Auditorium, Nebraska Union
An award-winning author and leader in design education, Ankerson has served as dean of the College of Architecture since July 2016. She was previously a professor and head of interior architecture and product design at Kansas State University and served as a professor and associate dean at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln from 1996 to 2011.
Ankerson, the International Interior Design Association’s 2020 Educator of the Year, advocates for interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary engagement, the value of design and making, and embracing new technologies to strengthen traditional design tools. Her leadership is focused on elevating inclusive innovation and celebrating the differences and excellence across academic disciplines.
Ankerson led the 20th Anniversary Nuckolls Lighting grant, which included nine educators in architecture, engineering and lighting design, and represented four major universities. The project produced the award-winning web-based Lighting Across the (Design) Curriculum.
She completed a three-year term of elected presidential leadership with the North America’s Interior Design Educators Council. In her second three-year term, she serves as chair of the Board of Directors for the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.
An architect and designer, Ankerson has held academic positions at Radford University and Washington State University.
Ankerson received a master’s degree, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Architecture from Washington State University.
Michael (Mike) Boehm
Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources | NU Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources
Interview date — Dec. 16
Public presentation — 3 to 4 p.m. Dec. 16, Swanson Auditorium, Nebraska Union
A U.S. Navy veteran and plant pathology researcher, Boehm has served in a dual academic leadership role for the University of Nebraska since January 2017.
Boehm leads all NU system efforts related to agriculture, natural resources, rural prosperity and related affairs. In all, he is responsible for more than 1,800 full-time employees, including 650 faculty and 1,200 staff. He also serves as a board member of the Nebraska Innovation Campus Development Corporation, Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard Educational Foundation, Bio Nebraska and NUtech Ventures.
He previously served as a professor of plant pathology and vice provost for academic and strategic planning at Ohio State University for six years. As vice provost, Boehm led strategic planning for Ohio State’s 15 colleges and six campuses, K-12 and community college partners, the university’s library system, College of Public Affairs, and Office of Institutional Research and Planning; dean appointments and academic unit reviews; integrated capital planning; regional campuses; Discovery Themes (Ohio State’s grand challenge initiative); and campus readiness. Boehm served as associate chair and then chair of Ohio State’s Department of Plant Pathology for six years prior to serving as vice provost. He served as special assistant to the interim president for one year.
An authority on turfgrass diseases, Boehm is widely published. He holds numerous U.S. and international patents related to his study of Fusarium head blight, and has secured significant external funding in support of his research. Boehm is a recipient of numerous awards for teaching including the National Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences Award from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.
Boehm received a Doctor of Philosophy and a master’s degree (both focused on plant pathology/phytopathology) from Ohio State, and a bachelor’s degree (biological sciences) from Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio.