Chancellor Harvey Perlman delivered his 14th State of the University address Sept. 17, touting the momentum in UNL’s enrollment, scholarly activity and research expenditures and calling for the hiring of more tenure-track faculty in key areas of university strength.
The chancellor also touched on the university’s new Master Plan and proposed the creation a systematic process to help colleges and departments prepare students for the workforce.
Change and growth were frequent themes in the address, which Perlman has given annually since 2000 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.
“We are not the university that entered this century,” the chancellor told the assembled faculty, staff, students, alumni and guests. “Alumni who return to campus inevitably comment on the remarkable changes. They see the physical transformation but they also recognize this reflects programmatic accomplishments.”
Just as at the turn of the last century, when Willa Cather, Roscoe Pound and others brought the university to national prominence, the current era at UNL has the potential to be remembered as a pivotal time in the history of the university, he said.
“Our goal should be no less than that, when the next history of the university is written, it will be the beginning of the 21st century, not the turn of the 20th, that is regarded as our golden age – when we regained our rightful place among the leading universities in the country,” he said.
More tenure-track faculty
Perlman called for increasing the size of tenure-track faculty, which he called central to the university’s growth and research plans. Differential tuition in the College of Business Administration and the College of Engineering and strategic use of Programs of Excellence funding will jump-start faculty growth, he said.
In addition, Perlman said he would work with Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ellen Weissinger to identify additional funds for new faculty hiring in UNL’s highest reputation and research priorities.
Accountability measures to be explored
As costs of higher education increase around the country, students, parents and public are increasingly holding colleges and universities accountable for the employment experience of graduates, Perlman said. While UNL’s role is to prepare students for a lifetime of success and not just their first job, Perlman said the university has not been oblivious to students’ career aspirations and attainment.
The chancellor proposed two measures: First, every UNL discipline should provide students with realistic information about how education in that discipline relates to career opportunities; and second, UNL should more systematically monitor the level of career success achieved by its graduates.
“Focusing students on career potential will, for some, give a context to the pursuit of the degree and may lead to better retention and graduation,” Perlman said. “Measuring the career success of our graduates will provide a better understanding of how our students take advantage of the education we provide.”
Highlights of UNL’s new Master Plan shared
Perlman began the address with a short slideshow depicting UNL’s momentum on several fronts – including enrollment, graduation rates and research expenditures – and also laying out a broad blueprint for future of the physical campus.
The newest UNL Master Plan, which will be presented to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents on Friday, is the first Master Plan to include a landscape plan, Perlman said. It’s also one that includes an outline for future development of a new mall system on both City and East campuses, including the proposed Memorial Mall just east of Memorial Stadium toward 14th and Vine streets.
“The plan’s commitment to a new mall system on both campuses and its emphasis on creating indoor and outdoor spaces for social and academic interaction will clearly change how we view and use the campus setting,” the chancellor said.
Food Science to be Innovation Campus ‘pioneers’
Perlman said that IANR Vice Chancellor Ronnie Green and his leadership team are in the process of moving the Department of Food Science and Technology to Nebraska Innovation Campus. This would allow faculty to build upon the newly formed partnership with ConAgra – the first announced tenant at the new research campus on the former Nebraska State Fairgrounds – and to take advantage of opportunities for any number of additional partners in food innovation.
“In making this bold move, the department is indeed becoming the ‘pioneer’ of Nebraska Innovation Campus and will be exceptionally well positioned to be a national leader,” he said.
Faculty and staff who were honored for service milestones were recognized during the annual employee service award recognition program prior to the address. The All-University Picnic followed the address at the Van Brunt Visitors Center. See a list of honored faculty and staff by clicking here (PDF format).
The prepared text of Chancellor Perlman’s State of the University address, as well as his13 previous State of the University addresses, are available at http://go.unl.edu/stateoftheu.