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State of Our U spotlight shines on deans
Nebraska deans had a new opportunity to celebrate their colleges’ successes, and outline plans for the future, during Feb. 14’s State of Our University Address.
Held in the Nebraska Innovation Campus auditorium, Friday’s address was the first time dean presentations have been featured in the annual event. The format will be incorporated each year moving forward to make the address more inclusive, as well as provide individual progress updates on the N2025 plan over the next five years.
Below is a brief summary of each dean’s remarks.
Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Archie Clutter, dean of the Agricultural Research Division; Chuck Hibberd, dean and director of Nebraska Extension; and Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, presented a combined look at IANR during the address.
Clutter lauded his division’s 25% increase in research expenditures over the past five years, as well as the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Awards obtained by faculty like Rebecca Roston, Joe Lewis, Toshihiro Obata and Rebecca Wachs.
Hibberd explained how Nebraska Extension’s implementation of engagement zones — which divide the state into 11 different areas of focus — has helped increase employee success, enhance stakeholder connections and broaden the university’s engagement.
Heng-Moss told audience members about several new partnerships that are increasing education access for both students in CASNR and rural Nebraska, including the Northeast Nebraska Agriculture and Natural Resources Education Compact and the Wayne State dual degree program.
Katherine Ankerson, dean of the College of Architecture, honed in on her school’s impacts both around the world and statewide. Among those was the recent 50th anniversary of the school’s London study abroad program, the ongoing community service research projects in the towns of Winslow and Valentine, and the numerous international and national design competitions won by students and faculty.
Arts and Sciences
Mark Button, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, used Friday’s presentation to celebrate the achievements of his faculty and students.
Button mentioned the record 1,407 students named to the Arts and Sciences dean’s list; the participation of CAS faculty and students in the TORUS project; the eighth Big Ten championship win of Nebraska’s speech and debate team; and the formation of the Rural Drug Addiction Research Center, led by Kirk Dombrowski, John Bruhn Professor of sociology.
Kathy Farrell, dean of the College of Business, started by listing a few of her school’s recent accomplishments. They include the creation of a law and business minor, as well as online graduate programs in finance and business analytics; high rankings in U.S. News Report and Poets and Quants; the growth of the Clifton Strengths Institute; and the college’s first pop-up class this spring.
In the future, Farrell said the law and business minor would be expanded to a major, and the College of Business will make the expansion of its graduate programs a key priority.
Education and Human Sciences
Sherri Jones, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, highlighted a few milestones the college reached in 2019. The Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools entered its 15th year, and the first cohort of the Teachers Scholars Academy arrived at the university.
Construction will begin this spring on a new Mabel Lee Hall, which will serve as the home of CEHS. Ground will also be broken at Nebraska Innovation Campus for a hotel, providing learning opportunities to students in the school’s hospitality, tourism and restaurant management program.
Lance Pérez, dean of the College of Engineering, stressed the role of his college in the economic development of the state. Pérez mentioned that over half of all engineering graduates — 11,000 in total — have stayed in Nebraska after college.
The future construction of Kiewit Hall, which will serve as engineering’s academic hub and house Lincoln-based construction management programs, was also a focus of his presentation.
Fine and Performing Arts
Charles O’Connor, dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, discussed the opening of the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts and the ongoing success of the Nebraska Repertory Theatre. He also mentioned a new student-led improvisational company, “We are Nebraska,” which performs for members of the Lincoln community and tells stories from diverse perspectives.
Journalism and Mass Communications
Rick Alloway, associate professor of broadcasting, led Journalism and Mass Communications’ presentation. Alloway told audience members about the 10th anniversary of Jacht, the college’s student-led advertising agency; the expansion of pop-up classes on emerging industry trends (22 in total during 2019); and the hiring of Shari Veil as dean. Veil will assume her position July 1.
Richard Moberly, who currently serves as interim executive vice chancellor and will return as dean of the College of Law this summer, pointed out the success of Nebraska law students and alumni. Over the past two years, the university has had the 11th-highest bar passage rate in the country and the sixth-highest job placement rate for new grads.
Moberly also discussed the recent announcement of the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center. The center will be a partnership between the College of Law and engineering and business colleges to address the regulation of emerging technologies.
In 2019, Nebraska’s online Digital Commons website reached 70 million downloads. Claire Stewart, dean of University Libraries, said that number signifies the momentum of the university’s library system.
In her presentation, Stewart mentioned the ongoing construction of the Dinsdale Learning Commons (formerly the C.Y. Thompson Library). She also prioritized enhanced collaboration between libraries nationwide and stressed Nebraska’s role in teaching students valuable information skills.