University of Nebraska-Lincoln students and faculty, family and friends mourned the loss of Dr. Prem Paul following his death Thursday evening.
Paul announced his retirement as vice chancellor of research and economic development Monday, citing health concerns.
In a message to UNL faculty and staff Friday morning, Chancellor Ronnie Green highlighted Paul’s impact on the University of Nebraska – one he said “cannot be overstated.”
“Thanks to Prem’s leadership, vigor and unsurpassed vision,” Green wrote, “our contributions to research, scholarship, and creative activity transformed us as a research-intensive University.”
Dr. Charles Wood, director of the Nebraska Center for Virology, said the news of Paul’s death was devastating. Wood credited Paul as an instrumental force in the creation of the Nebraska Center for Virology.
“Without his support, we wouldn’t have the facility we have today,” Wood said.
Wood had worked with Paul since his arrival at the university, and he said no person has made a bigger impact on UNL than Paul. Paul was never afraid to take on big projects, Wood said, and was an amazing friend and colleague.
“He was such a dynamic administrator, and his enthusiasm was infectious,” he said.
Wood said Paul laid the ground for UNL’s success in research, and he has no doubt that the university will continue to achieve great things in the world of research.
Many took to social media remember Paul’s legacy, including Chancellor Green, University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts.
In his message to faculty and staff, Green encouraged colleagues to "do something BIG today" in Paul's honor – "that is what he would want."
On Twitter, those impacted by Paul's work used the hashtag #PremThinkBIG as a testament to his high hopes for the university.
Paul began his tenure as vice chancellor for research in 2001 and under his leadership, UNL was one of the fastest-growing research universities in the nation for the next eight years.
Research funding exceeded $100 million in 2006, the highest the external research funding had ever been.
Paul began overseeing the university's economic development efforts when economic development was added to his title in 2008.
Paul had a hand in many research proposals and initiatives during his tenure at UNL. Under Paul's leadership, UNL secured a $10 million award from the U.S. Department of Education to form the National Center for Research on Rural Education, took possession of Nebraska Innovation campus and reached a record high of $146.9 million in sponsored research.
Those are just a few of many achievements in research Paul brought to UNL during his 15-year career.
Paul also served on review panels for the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation, and was a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s xenotransplantation advisory subcommittee.
He held a doctorate of veterinary medicine and was a member of various associations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Society of Virology.
Paul is survived by his wife, Missi; daughter, Neena, and son-in-law, Steve; son Ryan; and granddaughter Ashland. Funeral arrangements and visitation are pending.
A memorial fund, the Prem S. Paul Fund for Research Excellence, has been established at the University of Nebraska Foundation. For more information on the fund, call 402-458-1100.