Katherine Ankerson, an academic leader who directed a revitalization of the College of Architecture, has been named the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s next executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.
Selected through an internal search, Ankerson will assume the new role on Jan. 18, the first day of the university’s spring semester.
“Kathy is the right leader at the right time for this very important role,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said in a Jan. 10 announcement to campus. “She is a collaborative, inclusive and strategic leader who will take a ‘what if’ approach into this vital role for our academic mission and help propel us forward.”
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 Nebraska from 1996 to 2011.
Under her leadership as dean, the College of Architecture has prospered, particularly in faculty achievement and student success. Key metrics include 24% of architecture faculty being recognized with the highest academic and professional honors; improving the six-year graduation rate from 50.9% to 71.9%; and the five-year employment rate for graduates of the college ranging between 95% and 100%.
She also played an active role on the university’s N150 Commission and the N2025 Steering Committee, helping shape the vision and strategic goals of the institution.
“I am honored, humbled and excited by this opportunity to lead Nebraska’s academic enterprise,” Ankerson said. “Our university is a place where every person and every interaction matters. I look forward to building upon our shared momentum, our unwavering belief in the transformational power of education, and our ability to effect positive change in this world.”
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.
She led the 20th Anniversary Nuckolls Lighting grant, which included nine educators in architecture, interior design, engineering and lighting design, and represented four major universities. The project produced the award-winning web-based Lighting Across the (Design) Curriculum.
An architect and designer, Ankerson has held academic positions at Radford University and Washington State University. She received a master’s degree, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Architecture from Washington State University.
Sharon Kuska has been named interim dean of the College of Architecture. A Nebraska alumna, Kuska has served as a faculty member in the college for 35 years and, since 2018, has been associate dean for faculty and academic programs.
Details on a search for a new dean for the college will be announced.
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.
Bob Wilhelm, vice chancellor for research and economic development, has served as the interim executive vice chancellor since Nov. 20. Elizabeth Spiller held the position previously.
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.