The University of Nebraska Board of Regents on June 22 unanimously approved the appointment of Rodney D. Bennett as the 21st chancellor of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Bennett, named in May as the priority candidate for chancellor by Ted Carter, president of the NU system, will assume his new role July 1. He succeeds current Chancellor Ronnie Green, who is retiring June 30. Bennett’s appointment follows a series of public forums and other meetings over the last month during which more than 1,400 members of the extended UNL community were able to meet him, ask questions and hear about his vision for Nebraska’s flagship university.
“The chance to serve the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as chancellor is the opportunity I have been preparing for for over 30 years,” Bennett said. “I’m so thankful to President Ted Carter for selecting me for this role, and to the Board of Regents for their vote of confidence today.
“I continue to be excited about the university’s ability to set a new standard of excellence among flagship and land-grant institutions across our country and beyond. UNL is truly unique in building vibrant, economically competitive communities across Nebraska while preparing students to be successful in an evolving world in which they will live and work.
“I cannot thank the UNL community enough for the warmth and engagement shown to me during both the screening and public vetting process. I also want to thank Chancellor Ronnie Green, his wife Jane and their family for their years of dedicated service to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Temple and I look forward to officially becoming Cornhuskers and cannot wait to get started.”
Carter said the leadership qualities he saw in Bennett have resonated with Nebraskans.
“He is a proven leader with a bold vision to lead the University of Nebraska–Lincoln forward,” Carter said. “He has a deep appreciation for the land-grant mission, he puts students first, and he will build the relationships necessary for us to succeed in this rapidly changing environment for higher education. I am thrilled to welcome Rodney, Temple and their daughters to the University of Nebraska family.”
Bennett most recently served as president of the University of Southern Mississippi, a comprehensive public research institution that enrolls 14,000 students across multiple campuses. As president from 2013 to 2022, Bennett brought Southern Miss into the top tier of research institutions, delivered improved student outcomes, invested in faculty and high-growth academic programs, and stabilized the budget through fiscally conservative management – all qualities that attracted Carter during the national search for a successor to current Chancellor Ronnie Green, who is retiring.
Bennett led Southern Miss’ reclassification from a Carnegie R2 to an R1 university, signaling its growth in research prestige and funding. He also improved the academic quality of the student body, expanded high-demand programs and elevated technology transfer efforts. A strong champion of student access and success, Bennett invested in programs to support recruitment, retention and outcomes. He invested in new faculty positions in high-growth areas, increased the average salary for full-time faculty, and launched the largest fundraising campaign in USM history.
Prior to his role at Southern Miss, Bennett held various leadership roles at the University of Georgia, Winthrop University and his alma mater, Middle Tennessee State University.
The chancellor search was guided by a 17-member search committee chaired by Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, with assistance from the national firm AGB Search.