Steve Goddard knows a lot about research at Nebraska.
In his 18 years at the university, he has been a faculty member, department head, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and associate vice chancellor for research.
Named as interim vice chancellor for research and economic development by Chancellor Ronnie Green on Aug. 29, he feels the importance of continuing Prem Paul’s legacy of research growth.
Paul was a great leader and played a key role in starting many new research programs and centers, Goddard said.
“Our task this year is to build on Prem’s work and provide a solid foundation for the next vice chancellor,” he said.
Goddard remembers meeting Vice Chancellor Paul for the first time in 2001, when Goddard was an assistant professor in computer science and engineering. Paul came to his lab, in the former Miller & Paine building at 13th and O streets, while Avery Hall was being renovated.
“That first time I met Prem he was so enthusiastic I thought he was sort of a slick salesman, but I came to realize that his excitement and drive to promote and develop research was genuine,” Goddard said. “He was the real deal and his enthusiasm was infectious.”
Goddard also knows about research in the private sector, having worked in the computer industry for 13 years, including nine years as president of his own company, before coming to Nebraska. This combination of private and public sector experience gives him a broad perspective on both the research and administrative functions the vice chancellor oversees.
Those skills and more will be needed to meet Chancellor Green’s big goal for research – $600 million in research expenditures by 2025. Research expenditures are an important metric, Goddard said, but equally important are the significance and impact of the university’s research, scholarship and creative activity.
“If we all strive to be the best in our field – to publish in the top journals, perform on the most prestigious stages, partner with the top institutions, show in the elite galleries, license technologies that make it to the marketplace and develop programs that contribute to society’s well-being – we will know that UNL is having an impact on our world,” Goddard said. “If we can do that, we will meet the chancellor’s goals.”
The chancellor’s goal to be a distinctive member of the Big Ten is well within reach, Goddard said, but strategic planning will be critical to success. Every unit will need to determine its strengths.
“We need to identify the areas where we’re going to be great, and we can’t be great at everything,” he said. “We have to think about what makes sense for the university and the state.”
One thing is certain, Goddard said. The Office of Research and Economic Development will continue to work with all of the colleges and support faculty as they strive for excellence in their fields.
“Our reputation as a distinctive member of the Big Ten will be built by the contributions of all of us.”