Even though the University of Nebraska Board of Regents cannot meet in person, it is hosting a remote meeting to continue governing the NU system.

The Board of Regents will hold its meeting on April 17 at 9 a.m. via Zoom, and the public will be able to stream audio of the meeting, according to Melissa Lee, NU director of communications. She said COVID-19 has diverted the attention of campus chancellors and NU President Ted Carter, but the system remains committed to its community.

At the meeting, the regents are scheduled to discuss new policies related to the Regents Scholarship, whether to eliminate the classical languages major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a new policy related to external financing, according to the meeting agenda.

“I’m really excited [to meet],” Board of Regents chairman Jim Pillen said. “I think we’ll be able to carry on and do it from eight different locations for every board member. I think it’ll be pretty seamless.”

Carter is recommending multiple amendments to undergraduate Regents Scholarships policies, according to the agenda.

The amendments would cap tuition remission at the number of credit hours required by a student’s degree program, usually 120 hours, with exceptions for majors that require additional hours, according to the amendments. The proposal would lower the maximum awardable amount from 135 hours.

The amendments would also allow full-time student recipients of the Regents Scholarship to renew their scholarships if they complete nine or more hours per academic year on the “A” through “F” grading scale. Recipients would be allowed a one-time transfer of the scholarship between two NU campuses.

Emily Johnson, 2019-20 Association of Students of the University of Nebraska president, said she is proud of the new amendments related to Regents Scholarships, which will allow students to utilize the scholarship in ways that work for them.

Another addendum for the meeting, sponsored by UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green, would eliminate the classical languages major in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies.

The major was created in 2005 for the College of Arts and Sciences by combining separate Greek and Latin majors. According to the agenda, student interest has remained low for the past five years and does not have enough interest to continue to be offered. There is enough interest in the curriculum, however, so the classes will continue as an option within the classics and religious studies major.

Students who had declared the major prior to the 2019-20 school year would be able to continue their degree program as planned or change degree programs to the classics and religious studies major, according to the addendum.

The regents may also create a new policy for external financing, which would assist the NU system in cost-effectively prioritizing and utilizing external funds for capital plans and operating needs, according to the agenda. 

Annually, the NU vice president for Business and Finance will give his or her assessment of NU’s ability to take on additional external financing liabilities and assess the system’s financial strength to the Business and Finance Committee, according to the proposed policy. If approved, the policy would become effective on Friday.

Pillen said there may be updates on NU response efforts to COVID-19 at the meeting, but no formal presentations are planned at this time.

Carter planned to release a five-year strategic plan before his 100th day in office, which was Thursday, April 9, but Lee said the coronavirus diverted his focus.

“With the challenges in front of us, it’s just important to focus full time on those right now, particularly the safety and care of our 51,000 students, the safety and care of our employees, just the overall continuing of university operations in these challenging times,” she said.

Carter’s investiture ceremony and reception, originally scheduled for Friday, have also been postponed.

Pillen said Carter stepped into a role neither could have imagined, but the regents are proud of Carter’s work in response to the coronavirus.

“He has exceeded expectations — never could have dreamed that our new president would be called on for the leadership he has,” Pillen said. “His positive, calming, insightful presence has been very obvious to all.”

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