Elizabeth Spiller, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, announced her resignation to colleagues in an Oct. 11 email:
Dear UNL Colleagues,
It is with mixed feelings that I write to all of you. As you know, I arrived at the university as we closed our doors because of COVID in the spring of 2020. It is wonderful that we are now beginning to come back together as a university and a community, and I have appreciated the opportunities to see so many of you at events, at talks and lectures, in classrooms, and across campus these last six weeks. This sense of renewal has been heartening, though it has also underscored how much we have all lost to COVID as we have moved into this third academic year on which the pandemic will leave its mark.
Throughout my time here, I have valued the opportunity to work with and on behalf of all of you, on behalf of our students, and on behalf of our outstanding academic programs in ways that advance the academic mission of UNL. I am so pleased to have been able to develop and then implement a plan for faculty compensation increases this fall: with support that we secured from the President’s office, we were able to provide raises to 63% of tenure-line faculty, with an average pay increase of 6.8%. I was also pleased that it was possible to create a process for reviewing compensation levels for lecturers and to commit more than half a million dollars in multi-year funding to immediately implement recommended pay increases that averaged just over 16% for faculty who do so much to support the university’s teaching mission. Looking forward, it will be good to have processes in place that give colleges responsibility for reviewing and proposing adjustments for equity and national benchmarking for all faculty salaries each year.
At the same time, COVID has had many impacts on the university and our faculty and staff across our academic units, I am grateful that we were able to put in place strong two-year, stop-the-clock protocols for pre-tenure faculty impacted by the pandemic, teaching evaluation modifications, emergency research-gap funding support for early career faculty, and new mentoring programs for incoming faculty. While it was very hard to need to achieve the significant budget cuts that the university faced to our academic programs and academic administrative units, I was deeply impressed with the care, dedication, and strategic thought that so many people brought to keeping the best interests of our students and the greater good of the university at the forefront of their thinking as we went through this process. I was honored to work with members of the faculty senate on the development of new administrative leave policies that align with AAUP guidelines and that I am confident will serve the university well. On the student side, I was so proud of the work that we did to close the COVID “opportunity gaps” that students faced – whether in the Husker Starter Pack for incoming students, in the new mini-sessions, or in building global education here at home. It has been good to see the highest ever increases in our six-year graduation rate this year and such a large graduating class this spring. Finally, it is wonderful to see so much curricular innovation across campus – I am especially pleased about cross-disciplinary programs in areas like data science and public health, which will benefit our students and the state as a whole. Throughout, it has been important to me, as we move through the challenges of COVID together, to do whatever I can to support the achievement of our academic mission through successful in-person residential education.
Helping to manage the impact of a crisis like the COVID pandemic on a vibrant and wonderful university like this one necessarily provides a new sense of perspective. The pandemic has changed the shape and meaning of our lives, not to mention the ways we connect with our communities and our loved ones. On that note, I write to let all of you know that I have asked Chancellor Green to release me from my responsibilities as Executive Vice Chancellor for personal reasons. As the crisis for UNL begins to recede, I need to manage a family crisis. I must return home, to Boston, to care for an aging parent, to honor my commitment to the person who raised me. I assure you all, my respected colleagues and friends, that I will work hard to tie up loose ends in the coming weeks and will work to support a smooth transition in the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor.
I want to reiterate that it has been an honor to work with you, directly and indirectly, to support our students and the academic programs that are at the heart of this great university. I wish you all good health and great success in the months and years ahead.
My very best,
Elizabeth Spiller Professor and Executive Vice Chancellor