Priority Candidate for NU System President, Walter "Ted" Carter

The University of Nebraska priority presidential candidate Walter Carter, Jr., speaks to students in Hawks Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

After months of searching for the next University of Nebraska president, the Board of Regents may have finally found the person for the job. 

Walter “Ted” Carter, Jr. was announced as the priority candidate for the position on Oct. 25. If chosen, he would assume the position in January. Collectively, the regents said the vote on Thursday is not yet set in stone, as the public feedback from the 30-day vetting period as well as all other feedback will be considered before the final motion or vote is entertained.

As the Board of Regents near a final vote, The Daily Nebraskan asked the eight Board of Regents and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln student regent what their initial reactions were to Carter’s candidacy, what Carter would bring to the NU system if confirmed and which top three leadership pillars Carter exhibits based off of the nine pillars used during the search process. 

The Daily Nebraskan was unable to get a comment from District 8 regent Barbara Weitz at this time.

Chairman Tim Clare, District 1

tim clare courtesy

Top Three Pillars: Proven leader; Prioritization of higher education, academic and research excellence; Political acumen 

“The thing I appreciated about Ted was I think he had students’ interests at heart. I think he, because of his background, is going to really help elevate our campus — that a rising tide lifts all ships. I believe his connections, his contacts, his relationships, internationally and nationally, will help not only the university but will help faculty and students and it will help the state of Nebraska — and also the nation for that matter. I think those two are the ones that resonate with me, and … I think he’s going to be a transformational leader and will elevate everyone in the University of Nebraska system.”

Howard Hawks, District 2

Howard Hawks courtesy

Top Three Pillars: Proven leader; Strategic thinker; Values the university as a global leader

“As I created my reaction, I paid a lot of attention to his interactions with the publics. Obviously, we interviewed him and I had a very strong reaction to him and his wife Lynda in the interview process, but his interaction with the Nebraska publics was outstanding. And the response that we have, that I know about, has also been outstanding. When we have our board meeting we will have to compare all the data from all the feedback; we take the feedback from citizens in the state seriously. We’ll be excited to get this behind us, hopefully positively.”

Vice chairman Jim Pillen, District 3

Jim Pillen courtesy

 Top Three Pillars: Proven leader; Prioritization of higher education, academic and research excellence; Values university as a global leader

“There’s an awful lot that took place from the search committee process through the regent's interviews and then through the public forum process … In all the forums and the lunches and everything, there were over 2,500 Nebraskans that got to engage and interact with Ted — from faculty, to students, to the administrative staff, to stakeholders across the state. In my view, Ted was continuing the interview. On a scale of one to 10, I have confidence he’s very, very high.”

Elizabeth O’Connor, District 4

Elizabeth O'Connor courtesy

Top Three Pillars: Strategic thinker; Prioritization of higher education, academic and research excellence; Values diversity and inclusion

“To be candid, I thought it was a complicated matchup at first, just because the university does differ quite a bit from the Navy, and so I was a little apprehensive. But, once I got to meet him, I was very impressed with his poise, with a deep level of thought that he gave to complicated problems and for his ability to understand something as complex as a public university system operating in a state that’s facing budgetary issues. I think the fact that he’s used to dealing with complicated structures like the military, and also with the political side of the military, I think gave him a unique perspective, and I think it also was a good training ground for him. Once I met him, I was very impressed with the level of thought that he’d given to educating the next generation of America, what that would need to look like and how to handle budgetary issues when it comes to education in a very ethical way.”

Rob Schafer, District 5

Rob Schafer courtesy

Top Three Pillars: Proven leader; Prioritization of higher education, academic and research excellence; Political acumen

“I think he’s going to be an outstanding leader, and we’re very fortunate to hopefully secure his services. He’s a leader’s leader. There’s probably not a stronger calling anywhere in the country than leading our nation’s warriors in combat. It’s the most trusted leadership position you can ever be asked to be put in. I’m just in awe of what he’s been able to accomplish.”

Paul Kenney, District 6

Paul Kenney courtesy

Top Three Pillars: Proven leader; Strategic thinker; Prioritization of higher education, academic and research excellence

“I believe that Ted is one of the most outstanding individuals I’ve ever met … We identified the things that we thought we need as a leader in the University of Nebraska system, and he thought that was someplace he could really have an impact. He commanded a tremendous amount of people who followed him back and forth, and [Nebraskans] were totally captivated by the guy.”

Bob Phares*, District 7

Bob Phares courtesy

Top Three Pillars: Strategic Thinker; Commitment to “One Nebraska”; Prioritization of higher education, academic and research excellence

“As far as Ted Carter is concerned, I am convinced he will be a great fit for the Nebraska system. All the pillars are valuable and needed, if they weren’t all important we would have less. We will focus on various ones at various times and early on Ted’s leadership style needs to be enabling, and he needs to be a strategic thinker as we build upon our system emphasis of cooperation and collaboration as we promote ‘One Nebraska.’ Other equally important pillars will come into play as we move forward and won’t be ignored either by Ted or the board. Ted and Lynda will be a great team, and I look forward to serving with them.”

Emily Johnson, UNL Student Regent

Emily Johnson courtesy

Top Three Pillars: Strategic thinker; Values diversity and inclusion; Values the university as a global leader

“Everyone went through an interview process for such a high profile position, so I’m looking at candidates, and they have the burden of proof to show why they deserve the job. I really wanted to hear what [Carter] has done to prove that he deserves this position and has earned the state’s trust. Really, what impressed me more than anything, prior to our vote, was his track record on mental health, especially working for the Navy task force to address suicidality in the Navy. And then, additionally, I was impressed by his aspect and work of diversity and inclusion. Those two are what convinced and still convince me to support him.”

*Regent Bob Phares was interviewed over email.

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