State of the University 2.14.20

Chancellor Ronnie Green speaks during the State of the University Address in the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

At the 2020 “State of Our University Address,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green unveiled the N2025 Strategic Plan to improve the campus and begin the 25-year vision.

On Friday at Nebraska Innovation Campus, Green announced the strategic plan, which Green said is the first step to improve UNL to where it can be by its 175th anniversary in 2044. The plan’s goals include excellence in research and student experiences, uniting to solve critical challenges like climate change and encouraging the campus to be more diverse.

To help follow the plan, Green announced the creation of a School of Computing in the College of Engineering — a $2.5 million investment for new programs in computer science and engineering. He said he expects to more than double the number of graduates in computer science, software engineering and computer engineering by 2025.

Through these goals, the N2025 plan sets forth a five year plan to accomplish the 25-year vision set forth by the N150 Commission. Its ultimate vision is for Nebraska students to co-create their experience, for research and creativity to transform lives and learning, to build communities through engagement and operate under the understanding that every person and every interaction matters.

“It’s difficult for us to be the university in 2044, that 25-year vision, if we don’t take these first steps,” Green said. “I will tell you I think this plan gets it right. It hits the right notes, it focuses on the right things, it will stretch us in meaningful and significant ways.”

Specific targets among the aims include increasing graduation rates of students in four and six years, increasing research expenditures to $450 million from last year’s $317 million, designating UNL as a Carnegie Community Engagement campus, increasing participation and success for all and creating a Staff Council for campus government similar to the Faculty Senate and the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska.

A major goal, according to Green, is strengthening the workforce globally by ensuring all graduates have a documented experiential learning portfolio. Students could, for instance, include internships or apprenticeships, research or creative activities and community-engaged problem solving or international engagement in the portfolio. Currently, these experiences are not well-documented across campus and are not tracked effectively.

In the coming weeks, Green said he will appoint primary leaders for each target, responsible for achieving their designated target. He said he expects to reevaluate the targets annually and communicate progress with the UNL community. 

“[The N2025 Strategic Plan] speaks clearly and loudly to the aims, the strategies and the targets of the [N150 Commission],” Green said. “It resonates so personally with who we are at Nebraska, where we believe in the power of every person.”

He said UNL is educating the future workforce by creating skilled workers today and empowering tomorrow’s economy.

Green applauded Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts for supporting and advocating for the high-wage, high-skilled, high-demand scholarships under consideration by the Nebraska Legislature.

Some future jobs, Green said, have not been created or even imagined and the programs provided by UNL will help prepare students for the future. 

“It’s not enough just to think about preparing our students for specific jobs because you’d have to be hiding under a rock somewhere to not understand that many of the jobs that our students today will have, haven’t even been created or imagined yet,” he said. “We need our students to immediately engage with flexible, nimble and strong minds — prepared for any challenge and opportunity that may come their way through their education.”

Green said the past 150 years demonstrated a period of true grit and true glory that the next 25 years will build upon. Deans from across campus also spoke to reflect on the status of their academic disciplines and what each is doing to reflect the ideals of the strategic plan. He said the change of having deans speak will continue in future years.

Green said he believes the N2025 Strategic Plan will ensure a better future for all faculty, staff and students, following the theme of “every person and every interaction matters.”

“Part of the secret of our success here at UNL is that we believe in the power of every person,” Green said. “We know that when our university faculty and staff work one-on-one with students who may be struggling, … we can help those students to stretch their strengths and define success.”