Regents confirm Gold as NU's ninth president

· 6 min read

Regents confirm Gold as NU’s ninth president

Photo of Dr. Jeffrey Gold in an office with filled bookshelves in the background.
Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold

Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold, a first-generation college student, heart surgeon and longtime college administrator who for the last decade has led the University of Nebraska Medical Center through a period of record growth, was confirmed April 26 by the Board of Regents as NU’s ninth president.

Gold, who also serves as the NU system’s executive vice president and provost, will assume the president’s role July 1. As president, he will carry forward ambitious goals laid out by the regents and administration for elevating the University of Nebraska’s national stature and competitiveness at a time of unprecedented change and challenge in higher education.

“I’m grateful to the Board of Regents for the trust they have placed in me to serve this institution that I believe is truly poised to build the future,” Gold said. “As a Nebraskan by choice, it has been an honor and privilege to work alongside our leadership teams, our faculty, staff and students, and leaders in elected office, business and the community for the past 10 years. Most of all, I am inspired by what I see as the common thread that brings families from rural and urban communities across our state together: a deep desire for the very best educational experience for their children and grandchildren that will prepare them for lifelong learning and success.

“The University of Nebraska has delivered on that promise for Nebraskans for more than 150 years, and together we will continue to deliver the quality education, world-class research, engagement, economic development and health care that our citizens expect and deserve.”

Gold’s appointment concludes a national search launched last fall that engaged the university community and key stakeholders across the state, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members and leaders in agriculture, business and philanthropy. He was named the regents’ priority candidate for president on March 20, after which he underwent a vetting period required by state law that included a dozen public events across Nebraska. He succeeds Chris Kabourek, who has served as interim president.

“Chancellor Gold has been an outstanding colleague since my arrival last year,” said Rodney D. Bennett, chancellor of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. “His expertise and experience, including his prior work in the University of Nebraska system, have prepared him to be the higher education leader Nebraska needs at this time.

“On behalf of the UNL community, we extend our congratulations and look forward to working with him to advance the university system and our state.”

Regents thanked the many Nebraskans who participated in the search process, whether by sharing input on what qualities the regents should seek in the next president, attending public listening sessions or offering input on Gold’s candidacy.

“Jeff Gold has an impressive background and a skillset that we as a board felt was the right fit for the University of Nebraska,” said Rob Schafer, chair of the Board of Regents. “This is an important moment for our university and all of higher education, requiring bold vision and courageous leadership. I am excited about our future and what we will accomplish with Dr. Gold at the helm.”

Regent Tim Clare, who chaired the presidential search committee and led the regents when Gold was hired to lead UNMC, said the selection has brought him full circle.

“I’ve come to know Jeff as a good friend and colleague, someone who listens to students and has truly made Nebraska his adopted home,” Clare said. “I believe Jeff will bring the same success to the entire University of Nebraska that he has achieved at UNMC over the past decade and I’m confident he will devote his full energy to our ambitious goals for academic excellence, competitiveness and AAU readmission.”

Gold, 71, has served as UNMC chancellor and chair of the board of UNMC’s clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine, since 2014. He assumed executive vice president and provost duties in 2021, becoming the university system’s chief academic officer and primary liaison to the Board for academic affairs matters.

From 2017 to 2021, Gold concurrently held the role of University of Nebraska at Omaha chancellor, leading the state’s metropolitan university.

At UNMC, Gold has overseen a period of significant growth in enrollment, research, academic offerings, philanthropy and facilities. Enrollment has reached a record high for 23 straight years, and research grants and contracts now exceed $250 million. Continued success in technology transfer at both UNMC and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have helped Nebraska rank among the world’s top earners of patents for seven years running.

UNMC has expanded the breadth of its programs, notably through a successful partnership with the University of Nebraska at Kearney that has added health education programs to NU’s rural campus. Together with support from public and private partners, the UNMC-UNK collaboration has significantly bolstered the healthcare pipeline in the central and western parts of the state. Gold was announced today as the inaugural recipient of the Heartland Hero Award from the Rural Media Group.

UNMC has received national and international attention for its leadership in treating infectious disease, particularly during the Ebola outbreak of 2014-15 when UNMC was among a small number of select sites chosen by the U.S. Department of State to care for Ebola patients.

During Gold’s tenure, UNMC opened the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, to date the largest public-private partnership in university history and a key driver of UNMC’s global leadership in cancer research and care. UNMC has also opened iEXCEL, a high-tech clinical simulation and experimental learning center, the Dr. Edwin G. and Dorothy Balbach Davis Global Center, a new home for the Munroe-Meyer Institute, and a new home for the Lincoln division of the College of Nursing, among other physical upgrades that have significantly expanded the campus’ footprint.

UNMC has benefited from more than $800 million in private philanthropy since Gold’s arrival, with more expected through the ongoing Only in Nebraska campaign.

Gold holds tenured faculty appointments in UNMC’s College of Medicine and College of Public Health, where his research interests in health care policy, population health and epidemiology are concentrated.

Raised in Brooklyn, Gold is the product of the New York City K-12 public school system. He became the first in his family to go to college and earned his bachelor’s degree in theoretical and applied mechanics from Cornell University. He earned his M.D. from the Weill Cornell College of Medicine and completed his general surgery residency at The New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Gold completed his cardiothoracic surgical fellowship training at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, with additional training in pediatric cardiac surgery at the Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School.

Gold has been certified by the American Board of Surgery and by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, specializing in adult and pediatric cardiac surgery. He is licensed in Nebraska, Ohio, New York and New Jersey.

Gold has been married for almost 50 years to Robin Hayworth, M.D., a medical school classmate. The couple has two adult children and two grandchildren.

Reporting to the regents, the president is the chief executive officer of the four-campus University of Nebraska System. The president is responsible for carrying out the strategic priorities of the Board and is the primary advocate to the Nebraska Legislature and other constituencies. Direct reports to the president include the campus chancellors and NU-wide chief business, academic, legal and information technology officers.

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