Kathleen Lodl, associate dean of Nebraska Extension and Nebraska 4-H program leader, has been selected to lead the university’s efforts in becoming a Carnegie Community Engagement Campus by 2023.
Held by 100 other higher education institutions nationwide, including Cornell, Wake Forest, Loyola, Ohio State and Notre Dame, the Carnegie designation will formally acknowledge and broaden Nebraska’s community engagement efforts across the state. Chancellor Ronnie Green announced Lodl’s new role during the 2021 State of Our University address Feb. 15.
“Kathleen has worked with youth, families and communities all across Nebraska,” said Dave Varner, interim dean and director of Nebraska Extension. “Her energy, enthusiasm and creativity are infectious, and I have no doubt she will hit the target that Chancellor Green has set in terms of becoming a Carnegie Community Engagement Campus.”
The classification is granted by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and decided on by a national review committee led by the Public Purpose Institute at Albion College.
An inaugural cohort of institutions earned the classification in 2006, with others following in 2008, 2010, 2015 and early 2020. The next cohort of successful applicants will be announced in 2025.
Lodl has been instrumental in growing and strengthening Nebraska’s already robust statewide 4-H program. Under her leadership, Nebraska 4-H has engaged one in three Nebraska youth, which translates to a total of 142,000 youth statewide. In addition, she initiated the Next Chapter program, in which eighth-graders in 4-H are pre-admitted to the university and given the opportunity to consider careers, complete required courses and prepare to complete an undergraduate degree in four years or less.
Lodl also has worked to increase Nebraska 4-H’s national profile; has helped grow the Extension focus on early childhood education; and has worked to increase strategic partnerships between Nebraska Extension and other entities, including partnerships that made possible the popular Raising Nebraska exhibit at the Nebraska State Fair. In 2020, she was instrumental in reimagining 4-H so that youth could safely participate in 4-H programming and in county and state fairs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and began her career with Nebraska Extension as a graduate teaching and research assistant in 1984.
“The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is already highly engaged all across the state through our Alumni Association, Husker Athletics, Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska State Museum, the Lied Center for the Performing Arts, and myriad other facets of our great institution,” Lodl said. “We are starting from an extremely strong foundation, and I’m very excited to begin connecting with my fellow campus leaders, faculty, staff, students, and stakeholders as we work toward expanding UNL’s relationships and engagement across Nebraska and beyond.”
Lodl will begin meeting with vice chancellors, deans, center directors and other campus leaders to better understand Nebraska’s existing engagement efforts. From there, she plans to engage the broader university community to chart a course that will lead to the submission of Nebraska’s Carnegie Community Engagement Campus application package.
Those wishing to be part of the journey may reach out directly to Lodl at firstname.lastname@example.org.