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Samuel Mukasa, the third out of four candidates in the search for the next executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said he believes he is qualified for the position because of his experience working with other Big Ten schools. 

Mukasa, the senior executive for global STEM initiatives at the University of Minnesota, gave his presentation at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10, in the Nebraska Union Auditorium. He discussed how he believes partnerships with corporations and strategic money management can help colleges generate revenue, which is a problem universities around the world are facing.  

Mukasa said his history of working with Big Ten schools and his experience in strategic planning would be beneficial to the executive vice chancellor position. He said improving the university will be a communal effort, and he wants to have diverse input on how to improve UNL. 

“It would be rather pretentious of me to come here with some sort of pre-packaged vision for this university without really having spoken to anybody in great detail,” he said.

Mukasa gave examples of problems facing students, faculties and universities as a whole. 

He said student debt is rising at an unmanageable rate and is going to continue to become a greater challenge. As executive vice chancellor, he said he would address this issue. 

Mukasa also said increased tuition affects students’ mental health, and the stress from tuition is responsible for increased levels of anxiety on college campuses. He said he would work toward helping students with their mental health. 

“Mental health is going to be a growing problem for us all,” he said.

Mukasa also said federal funding for research grants has declined, and professors are having a harder time engaging in research. 

The digital age has also been hard on universities, according to Musaka. He said adapting to the digital age gives more choices in information technology, but universities have had to spend more money yearly to keep up with changing trends.

Mukasa said he admires UNL’s ability to maintain its cost per student and keep tuition low. He said he would aim to increase UNL’s funds through partnerships with the private sector. 

“There is already a very strong tradition at UNL to partner with industries,” he said. “Going forward, those partnerships are going to become a lot more important.”

Ryan Patrick, a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, said he has attended all three candidates' presentations so far because he thinks it’s important to be aware of their platforms. 

“The executive vice chancellor is going to lead a lot of things on campus,” he said. “I want to have some input, as well as be aware of what all the candidates are like.” 

Patrick said this appointment is going to affect everyone at UNL.  

“Everybody has a stake in this,” he said. 

Mukasa said he is dedicated to providing students with opportunities to receive an education, and, if chosen, he plans to make sure that students are able to receive a degree with minimal debt. 

“We often forget that students are people, first and foremost,” he said. 

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