It was a monumental 2015 for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, as the university strengthened its position in research and scholarly activity, enrollment growth, programming and collaboration. As the university prepares for new top leadership in 2016, it is positioned to continue its momentum.
Here’s a look back on what was an eventful year at Nebraska.
End of an era, new leadership. On April 1, Chancellor Harvey Perlman announced his intent to step down on June 30, 2016, after 15 years of unprecedented growth and enhancement to the university. Ronnie Green, IANR vice chancellor, was named interim senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. The office of Institutional Equity and Compliance gained a new leader, Susan Foster, and was reorganized to provide key leadership in the development of an inclusive and supportive campus climate. At the Nebraska Alumni Association, Shelley Zaborowski stepped into a new role as director. Two new deans were appointed – Richard Moberly was appointed interim dean of the College of Law to replace the outgoing Susan Poser, while Scott Killinger stepped into the role of interim dean of the College of Architecture.
Building momentum. Most notably, Nebraska Innovation Campus celebrated its grand opening and continued to welcome new partners throughout the year, while work launched on the new College of Business Administration building. The Love North Learning Commons emerged at semester’s end as a destination for students, while Manter Hall, the Student Veterans Resource Center and the East Campus Recreation Center all celebrated renovations and new spaces on campus. On Dec. 15, the $11 million Breslow Ice Hockey Center opened to students and the public.
Big awards, big projects. In November, the university transformed the former Nebraska Bookstore into the set of “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” to announce a $20 million gift from the Carson Foundation. The gift will allow the creation of the state-of-the-art Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media in the former bookstore building. Other notable gifts included a $30 million commitment from the Gallup Foundation to the College of Business Administration to establish the Gallup Strengths Institute at the university; a $9.6 million award from the National Science Foundation that energizes the university’s nanotech research; a $2.5 million award to the Nebraska Center for Youth Family and Schools; and $2.3 million from NSF to bolster life-sciences teaching at the university.
Nebraska also launced the Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Consortium, led by sociology professor Dan Hoyt; and the Central Plains Research Data Center, which provides researchers access to restricted census and other federal social and economic research information.
Recognition and reputation. In September, the university announced its highest ever enrollment – 25,260 – on the heels of awarding the largest ever number of degrees in one May graduation. It also celebrated its most diverse student body in its history, while being nationally recognized for its 10-year excellence in retaining underrepresented minority students.
Nebraska also remained highly ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ratings, landing in the Top 50 national universities and enjoying highly ranked programs throughout the year. In June, Nebraska was named an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for its commitment to economic engagement; in December it joined 64 other universities as a University Affiliate of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Five faculty and one department were awarded system-wide honors, the university’s Ag Water Network was recognized for its innovation, and in November, the American Association for the Advancement of Science named eight faculty as fellows – the most ever for the institution and second only to Stanford for the most fellows from one university in 2015.
“We continue to build our university in structure, strength and stature thanks to the talent and hard work of members our university community,” Perlman said. “Thank you for your commitment to make this university one of the best public universities in the nation.”