After a decade and a half of leadership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in which he guided the university through an era of growth and progress, Chancellor Harvey Perlman has announced he will step down as chancellor on June 30, 2016.
Perlman shared his plans via a university-wide e-mail on April 1 – the 14th anniversary of his installation at UNL.
He was named the university’s 19th chancellor on April 1, 2001, after serving nearly a year as interim chancellor.
“For a variety of reasons, both personal and professional, I believe that 2015-16 should be my last year as chancellor,” he wrote in his letter to campus. “This will allow an orderly transition and give our new president, Hank Bounds, an opportunity to organize and conduct a search for my successor.”
A native of York, Nebraska, Perlman came to the NU College of Law in 1967. He served on the law faculty until 1974, when he joined the University of Virginia Law School. He returned to Nebraska in 1983, when he accepted the deanship of the law college, a post he held until 1998. He plans to return to the Nebraska Law faculty at the close of his chancellorship.
“It has been a thrilling ride for me, largely because of your extraordinary accomplishments that have contributed to the growth and increased stature of the university,” Perlman wrote. “Those contributions, too numerous to mention, include inspired teaching and research by faculty, engagement and support from staff and creative leadership by administrators at every level.”
Historic advances have marked Perlman’s tenure as UNL chancellor. Among the most noteworthy:
The formation and continued development of Nebraska Innovation Campus, a research campus designed to facilitate new and more in-depth partnerships between the university and the private sector, on the former Nebraska State Fair site in Lincoln. Upon full build-out, NIC will be a 2.2 million-square-foot research, meeting and office space with up to 5,000 people working at the site.
The university’s 2011 admission to the Big Ten Conference. Along with a shift in the Huskers’ athletic landscape, UNL also became a member in the prestigious Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the nation’s premier higher-education consortium of top-tier research institutions.
Steady growth in student enrollment, most recently to 25,006 in the 2014-15 academic year – the second-largest student body in the university’s history. Since 2001, UNL’s enrollment has increased by 12.3 percent.
Sustained growth in the university’s research expenditures, from $157.5 million in the 2001 fiscal year to a total of $266.5 million in FY2013.
Investment in campus infrastructure and facilities, including Nebraska Innovation Campus, Othmer Hall, Jorgensen Hall, the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior in East Memorial Stadium, the Nebraska Center for Virology on UNL’s East Campus and many other physical projects.
Increased international partnerships, including significant efforts in globalizing UNL and Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an, China, through joint research and partnership degree programs. In 2011, Perlman was named an Honorary University Professor at Xi’an Jiaotong. He also serves on the board of directors of the Middle-East, North Africa Network of Water Centers.
In addition, Perlman has been prominent on matters of national intercollegiate athletics, including a seat on the NCAA’s Board of Directors. He also is past chair of the Bowl Championship Series Presidential Oversight committee and currently is chair of the College Football Playoff Association Board of Managers.
In his campus message, Perlman, 73, said that while he continued to be excited about the opportunities he sees for the university, the demands of the position eventually weighed on his decision to retire.
“It is apparent that my age, longevity in this office and the uncertainty of my continuing tenure creates challenges for the recruitment of high-level administrators,” he wrote. “I also believe UNL could benefit from an infusion of new ideas and new energy.
“I have always wanted to ‘do’ chancellor, not just to ‘be’ chancellor, and that has become more difficult. As they say in athletics, I will leave it all out on the court during this next year.
“Then, I hope you will allow me to fade, quietly and without fanfare, back to the law school.”
He expressed his optimism and confidence that the university’s next leader will continue building on its momentum.
“Thank you all for your indulgence in allowing me to lead my alma mater,” he wrote. “I will always be grateful.”