NU President Ted Carter

University of Nebraska President Walter “Ted” Carter, Jr., poses for a portrait in Varner Hall on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

University of Nebraska President Ted Carter looks forward to learning about the NU system. During his first 100 days on the job, he plans to develop a five-year strategy on the value of education.

On Jan. 1, Carter officially became the eighth NU president. In his first few weeks, he visited the campuses with chancellors to learn more about the NU system, met with Nebraska state senators to develop relationships and formed a transition team to develop a plan for the next five years and beyond.

“I am now one of all of us; I’m part of the team,” Carter said. “I’m a neighbor, and I’m a Nebraskan.”

In his first 100 days of office, Carter said he and a team of faculty, staff, students and outside business leaders, strategists, Board of Regents members and Varner Hall staff will work to release a five-year plan. The creation of the team was approved at a Board of Regents meeting on Dec. 19, and Carter said the committee will be divided into smaller committees to work on more focused tasks.

Before his investiture on Friday, April 17, Carter said he and his team will publish a physical document for all of the NU community. He said the major thrust of the strategy will address the value of education by fostering a continued appreciation of the university for all Nebraskans.

The strategy is designed to focus on what Carter envisions for the system and develop a plan on how to accomplish those goals. It will build off of past strategies and findings such as the N2025 Strategic Plan, the N|150 Commission report and executive vice president and provost Susan Fritz’s Big Ideas Initiative and documents from former NU President James Milliken.

A second part of the strategy will look to define success in the next 10 and 15 years.

Carter said a portion of the plan will help students’ experiential and personal growth and provide resources to focus on meeting those needs.

“Ultimately, I’m all about seeing more people on the campuses, more people graduate and more people going to work in Nebraska,” Carter said. “How big and how fast we go with that, I think that’s some work to be done.”

Offering access to mental health resources will also be a priority of Carter’s plan. He said that even if a student is academically successful in high school, that does not mean those skills translate at the college level. So, the plan will provide students with life skills early in their education.

Carter also said he wants to ensure students receive an education at an affordable price and does not want to increase tuition.

“This is everything about how you make yourself survivable, how you make yourself resilient and how … to become a good student,” he said.

Board of Regents chairman Tim Clare said the regents felt it was important that Carter had the opportunity to determine a plan for success to prepare students for a competitive 21st century. 

“I think [Carter’s] got impeccable integrity, impeccable character,” Clare said. “I think we’re fortunate that he’s also a guy that is student-centered and that he has a huge sense of caring and focus for the well-being of all the 51,000 students throughout the entire university system.”

Carter visited the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus for two days beginning on Jan. 16 and said UNL was much larger than he expected.

He also met with faculty leadership, many of whom he said had been teaching for over a decade, and said it was apparent they love what they do. But he said those sentiments and stories have to be told to keep a positive brand for the NU system.

“We have to do a better job of bragging about ourselves and telling that story,” he said. “I feel like that’s a big part of what has to happen next.”

Carter also met with the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska senators for a pizza dinner and discussion on Thursday, Jan. 16, and said he was excited to get to start working with students on campuses.

“Anytime I get to do anything with students, it’s the best of any day. That’s where the future is,” Carter said. “It gets me super excited, super energized. [Students] are the reason we exist. They are the superstars of the future.”

Clare said he wanted to thank everyone who helped in the process of bringing Carter from candidate to president and said the process led to a smooth transition from Fritz to Carter. He said Carter will be someone to rely on who will do everything he can “to help the student and the student experience.”

“I can tell you there’s unwavering excitement and enthusiasm about where the university is right now,” Clare said. “I think we’re positioned to do some really, really amazing things, and I think Ted can get us there.”

For his first 100 days as president, Carter said he looks forward to learning about the NU system, meeting with students and understanding what he can do to best serve the community. 

“The entire experience thus far has been exciting, exhilarating,” Carter said. “The amount of people that care so much about our university system really makes this job, right out of the gate, rewarding.”

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