Board of Regents Meeting Preview Sig 2020

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents will consider making the athletics director a vice chancellor and reaffirm a commitment to returning and transfer students at its meeting Friday. Students also plan to resume protests encouraging the university to divest from fossil fuels.

NU President Ted Carter is recommending Trev Alberts be named a vice chancellor for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in addition to his role as director of intercollegiate athletics. His base salary of $800,000 would not be impacted, and the change would be retroactively effective July 19, 2021. 

Carter is also recommending Christopher Marks, the associate dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and professor in the Glenn Korff School of Music, officially be the interim dean of the college effective Jan. 4, 2022. Marks would continue his professorship and assume the role from Chuck O’Connor, who has decided to step down after almost a decade.

An official search will be launched soon for a permanent dean, according to the previous university announcement.

Regents will also consider establishing two policies: an Undergraduate Transfer Student Graduation Guarantee and an Undergraduate Returning Student Degree Completion Guarantee.

Melissa Lee, NU’s chief communication officer, said the policies reaffirm that returning and transfer students are supported and are included in NU’s four-year graduation guarantee amended in June.

“It’s an affirmative statement to students that when we say we want to help everybody graduate in four years we also mean transfer students and returning students,” Lee said. “It’s kind of simply making sure that they’re in the fold and that our commitment is to them as well.”

Friday’s meeting will also mark a return for student protesters urging the university to divest its investments in fossil fuels, meaning reducing all standings in that industry to zero.

Divest NU, which formed in early 2020, has vowed to take action and testify at Friday’s meeting, according to Instagram posts. Organizers have said there are many plans in place moving forward and are excited to get started.

“This is our first action of the semester,” one post reads. “Let’s show up big and continue to pressure the university to act on their commitment to climate and racial justice.”

NU recently brought on Nicholas Stark to be the university system’s director of investment strategy and research. Lee said Stark has been actively engaged with student leaders in ongoing “really productive and good dialogue.”

“We really appreciate their leadership, their input and we’re continuing to work on good solutions for sustainability,” Lee said.

Because divestment is not specifically on the meeting agenda, individuals must provide more than 24-hours notice to Corporation Secretary Phil Bakken,, and the topic they would like to testify on.

Public comment is limited to 30 minutes, but Chair Paul Kenney reserves the right to waive this or limit appearances if necessary, according to regent standing rules. In August, public comment was extended to nearly three hours in response to a critical race theory resolution and protest over COVID-19 policies.

Carter will also provide a mid-semester review that Lee said will address NU highlights, achievements and challenges.

NU will kick off a four-week survey next Monday asking students and employees their perspective on the climate of campus. The anonymous results will be collected and allow NU administrators to build “a more engaging, inclusive and welcoming environment,” Carter and the four NU chancellors said in a joint email to students and employees Monday.

Individuals will receive an email from Gallup asking for participation that “should take no more than 10 minutes to complete” and will be available through Nov. 5. Lee said results should be aggregated to create action plans by the end of the calendar year or early next year.

“Our 51,000 students are No. 1 priority, and we are committed to ensuring that you receive the best possible education, that you feel safe and welcomed and that you’re cared for as a person with unique strengths and perspectives,” the joint email read. “We know there is always room for improvement — and that’s where your voice comes in. Your input on this survey will help us become a stronger university not only for you, but future generations of students.”

The Board of Regents will convene on Friday at 9 a.m. in Varner Hall, 3835 Holdrege St.