Busy Semester Ahead!

And we’re off!  As I embark on my sixth “start of the school year” with you at IANR – we have much to be proud of for what has been accomplished the past few years.  This fall is action-packed and promises to be exciting for all.  I wanted to take a moment to draw your attention to a few upcoming events.

Nebraska State Fair:  August 28 – September 7, 2015

As always, we will have a very large UNL presence at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island.  A few items to pay special attention to include:

  • 4-H Exhibit Hall – View more than 10,000 4-H exhibits from 2,500 exhibitors across the state, representing all 93 Nebraska counties.
  • Raising Nebraska – Through a partnership with Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and the Nebraska State Fair, we created the Raising Nebraska Experience.  This effort has been strongly and financially supported by a large number of ag industry partners. Located in the Nebraska Building, this is a year-round interactive learning center on the science of agriculture and food production.  The exhibit opened last year, but there are many new features to check out this year.
  • New this year – Raising Nebraska: Outdoors – an educational landscape shaped like the state of Nebraska, with a variety of crops, plants, trees, and grasses positioned in the areas of the state in which they are prevalent.  The space is approximately 180 feet long and 120 feet wide. Walkways through the space represent the major river systems in Nebraska.  There are also interactive kiosks, signs and demonstration areas.
  • Next to Raising Nebraska is a new exhibit area called – STEMming into the Future.  This is an interactive exhibit focusing on all things science, technology, engineering, and mathematics related.  Big thanks to our various units who will have interactive displays in this exciting new area.
  • CASNR/IANR Ice Cream Social – Sunday, September 6, 2015; 1-3 p.m. I Hospitality Loft, Five Points Bank Livestock Arena.  All staff, faculty, students, alums and potential students are invited to attend!
  • #UNLREDOUT Day – Fairgoers can show their Husker pride September 6 during UNL Red-Out Day at the Nebraska State Fair.  From 1-3:00 p.m. various UNL departments will be providing hands-on activities for youth in the Family Fun Activity Center.  At 3:00 p.m. there will be a Husker pep rally on the Family Fun Zone Stage.  University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds, Husker cheerleaders, and Lil’ Red are scheduled to attend.
  • More information about the fair can be found at www.statefair.org  

IANR All Hands meeting:  Thursday, September 10

Make plans to join me at 3:00 pm CDT in the Great Plains Room of the Nebraska East Union on Thursday, September 10, for the next IANR All Hands Meeting.  Live web-streaming and archives of the session will also be available on http://ianr.unl.edu/all-hands-meetings.  I will provide an update on what has happened since the last time we met in January and will outline our goals for the coming months.  We will also announce the 2015 Omtvedt Innovation Awardees.  Please make time in your schedule to attend in person, watch the live web-stream, or if not available during the session – to watch the videotape online at your convenience.

Husker Harvest Days:  September 15-17, 2015

“Successfully weathering extremes” is the theme for Nebraska Extension exhibits dealing largely with planning for potential weather extremes, from climate change on the farm and ranch, as well as climate change-induced challenges and opportunities in everyday life.  Entering UNL’s Husker Red steel building at Lot 321 on the south side of the exhibit grounds located near Grand Island, show-goers will get the latest information on the challenges and opportunities facing the economics of agriculture, including variability and extremes in planning successful agricultural operations.  IANR has been part of Husker Harvest Days for nearly 40 years, since the first show in 1978.  For more information on Husker Harvest Days, visit http://huskerharvestdays.com.

IANR Football Tailgates

September 26, 2015

  • CASNR Alumni Reunion and Silent Auction
  • Tailgate at 8:00 am | Kickoff:  11:00 am
  • Huskers vs Southern Mississippi

October 10, 2015

  • Tailgate 4 hours prior to game | Kickoff:  TBD
  • Huskers vs Wisconsin

November 7, 2015

  • Tailgate 4 hours prior to game | Kickoff:  TBD
  • Huskers vs Michigan State

WHAT:  Food, Football, and Fun! Free parking and shuttles to and from the stadium.  Network with alumni, current students, and potential students. Hosted by the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Alumni Association and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

WHERE:  Great Plains Room, Nebraska East Union, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.  Parking is available in the lot north of the Nebraska East Union, accessed off Fair Street.

No RSVP is required.  More information is available here – http://ianr.unl.edu/tailgate

Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC) Open House

Nebraska Innovation Campus is planning a grand opening and open house on October 9, where we will open the doors for the public to see all we are doing in our new spaces.  More details will be sent at a later time.  You can literally watch all of the progress on Innovation Campus by going to www.truelook.com/clients/tetrad-webcam/.

Rural Futures Conference:  October 21-23, 2015

The 2015 Hope Inspires Vision Conference will be held in one of two locations: Lincoln or Curtis.  During this year’s opening session which begins at 5:00 p.m. CDT on October 21, Howard G. and Howard W. Buffett will help set the stage for this year’s conference in a joint Heuermann Lecture dialogue with me by sharing with attendees glimpses from their book “40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World”.  The conference agendas for both locations, Lincoln and Curtis, can be found on the conference website – http://rfc.nebraska.edu/  Registration is now open!

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Onward into Fall

It is absolutely hard to believe the academic summer of 2015 has already come and gone.  If every day ahead looks and feels like this one, I vote for suspended animation.  What an absolutely gorgeous day for the first day of classes across all of UNL and our state-wide campus!

As you have heard me say many times recently – the momentum of UNL is palpable at the present.  From growth in student programs and success to major advances in our research and creative activity enterprise to the grand opening of Nebraska Innovation Campus to the major building projects now underway on both east and west campuses – 2015-16 promises to be exciting, momentous, and exhilarating, all at the same time.  I especially want to welcome all of our new faculty to the campus – it is a tremendously exciting time for both you and us as you join our ranks.

My challenge to you as we kick off the year is simple – remember we are the people’s University.  Remember every moment with every student is a moment of opportunity, impact, and mission – no matter whether your role is as a member of the world-class faculty of UNL, or as an important and impactful staff member across all of the many services making our campus thrive and hum, or as an administrative leader.   The lives we are changing every day through our tri-partite mission of education, research and scholarship, and translational extension are our focus – they are why we are here and they are who I think of every morning when I wake up to a new day.  What a privilege we have to be serving them through our work here in Nebraska while extending that reach around the world.  I look forward to hearing about the great things you will do in our classrooms, labs, studios, clinics, and fields in the months ahead.

Best wishes for a very productive, gratifying, and impactful year ahead.  What a great day to be at the University of Nebraska’s flagship campus.  But then again, every day as a part of the UNL family is an incredible day!

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KRVN Interview for August 22, 2015

Listen in on my recent interview with KRVN about the upcoming Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory Field Day and the new STEMming into the Future exhibit at the Nebraska State Fair.  http://real.unl.edu/podcast/IANR_Radio/ianr082215.mp3

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KRVN Interview for August 15, 2015

Listen in on my recent interview with KRVN about the new Raising Nebraska Expansion & Outdoor Site at the Nebraska State Fair  -

http://real.unl.edu/podcast/IANR_Radio/ianr081515.mp3

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KRVN Interview for August 8, 2015

Listen in on my recent interview with KRVN about the new agreement between the UNL Department of Agricultural Economics and the Nebraska Cooperative Council to create a new professor of agricultural and rural cooperatives.

http://real.unl.edu/podcast/IANR_Radio/ianr080815.mp3

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KRVN Interview for August 1, 2015

Listen in on my recent interview with KRVN about the IANR Roads Scholar Tour that is taking place this week -

http://real.unl.edu/podcast/IANR_Radio/ianr080115.mp3

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August – A Month Ripe with Anticipation

It is hard to believe we have already reached the month of August for 2015.  August for me is always a month ripe with anticipation – looking ahead to a new school year for K-12 children, as well as higher education; looking forward to the end of another growing season and hope for bountiful harvest; looking forward to another Husker football season; and looking forward to a sea of new faces in the incoming class of our students who will grace our campus, classrooms, and cultural life for the years ahead.

This is an unparalleled year for me personally as well, as I am entering the school year ahead with the opportunity to work with all of our academic enterprise across the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus as senior vice chancellor for academic affairs while continuing to serve in my usual IANR role.  I consider it a rare privilege to work with a highly talented team of academic leaders across the campus at a time when we are at an inflection point in meeting the UNL goals of enrollment growth to 30K students, $300M in research expenditures, 160 additional tenure-track faculty, enhanced graduation rates, and the full launching of phase I of Nebraska Innovation Campus.  We are so well poised to not only meet but exceed these goals in the years ahead!  And, there is no doubt in my mind we will reach even higher success if the campus works together across all of our boundaries, whether they be east or west campus, or across colleges, departments, centers, and institutes.

In the coming weeks, I am going to have the chance to immerse myself into all of the academic affairs colleges across the campus – I am looking forward to that very much and know I will not only find them on a path to success in meeting these goals, but will be amazed at the impacts being made across the board.  I have already been pleased to find that each of the colleges is strategically positioning themselves nationally and internationally in ways that will lead UNL to greater heights.  While we have work to do, particularly in some areas, we are clearly well on our way.

As I move into the weeks ahead in anticipation of the new academic year, I also must admit I am doing so with a refreshed perspective.  As I am writing this blog, I am on a plane coming home from spending the past week as a part of a mission team of Lincolnites on a Habitat for Humanity build in Ahuachapan, El Salvador.  My wife Jane and our daughters Kelli and Regan had participated the past two years with this team from our local Sheridan Lutheran church family.  Jane thought this would be a particularly good year for me to go as well for a number of reasons – including knowing the year ahead at UNL would be a fun but challenging one for us in covering all of the bases.  It was a wise decision.

While we are rightly concerned about increasing our national and international reach and reputation as a prominent leader in higher education, it is so easy to lose sight of how graceful and blessed our lives are amongst the 7.3B people of today’s world.  Words cannot describe how fortunate we are…….abundant and safe food and water, safe and highly comfortable shelter, a level of general wealth previously unseen in history, abundant natural resources, freedom to live and travel as we choose, ability for creative expression, and of course – being at the center of the innovation engine that has driven the world for the past 150 years – America’s higher education system.  The vast majority of the world’s people do not enjoy very many of the items in this list.

This past week while I was helping to build a septic system for a new Habitat home for a young Salvadoran family, I was reminded it is equally (and perhaps more) important we look not only “inside” at what we want UNL to be, but outside to remember the power of education, research, and translational extension.  Inward focus would keep us worried about metrics defined in ways that seek to measure us in comparison to our peers in ways that are likely not the most meaningful; i.e., are we as big, do we raise as much money, do we bring in as many federal dollars, do we have as many members of the National Academies, do we rank up there with our Big10 peers, are we in the “elite” list of academe, etc.?

Perhaps the real questions should be ones like how are we impacting every student with whom we have the opportunity to work, mentor, and help to critically think about the world?  How many of those students are ones who have a whole new world opened up to them with the education they are receiving; i.e., who thought they would never have such an amazing opportunity?  How are we equipping them to be productive citizens of an increasingly complex world ahead?  How is the research and creative work we are doing everyday adding to increased human quality of life for Nebraskans and people around the world?

What I know is if we remind ourselves every day of the unbelievable opportunity we have to make a difference in the lives of those around us in our classrooms, our labs, our studios, our clinics, and our fields – we will be changing the world as a world-leading, forward-thinking, dynamic and exciting 21st century Land-Grant University.  I hope you will join me in attacking the next year with a renewed sense of unbelievable blessing that we can spread to the world through the 25,000+ students gracing our presence – what a privilege and honor we have been given!

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An Idea Five Years Ago, is Changing Communities Today!

Our idea from five years ago is beginning to be recognized as a wise one -

World-Herald editorial: NU steps up on rural needs

A frequent question in Nebraska is: What are the best ways to bolster rural communities?

Over the past few years the University of Nebraska has taken steps to identify options and opportunities. The vehicle for this initiative is the Rural Futures Institute, created in 2012.

Just as NU stands tall nationally and internationally in fields such as plant science and water-policy studies, so the Rural Futures Institute is an institution that other states are increasingly looking to as a source of practical-focused information and research on rural issues.  Continue reading

 

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KRVN Interview for July 25, 2015

Listen in on my recent interview with KRVN about the latest happenings at Nebraska Innovation Campus - http://real.unl.edu/podcast/IANR_Radio/ianr072515.mp3

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C.Y. Thompson Library Town Hall Meetings

IANR and the University Libraries will be holding Town Hall meetings for faculty, staff, and students to learn about the vision and plans for the new CYT Learning Commons on East Campus.

The meetings will be held in the C.Y. Thompson Library on Monday, September 14, 3:30-5:00 p.m. and Friday, September 18, 3:30-5:00 p.m..

Nancy Busch, Dean of Libraries, and I will lead the conversations.

All are welcome to attend.

For more information, please contact Nancy J Busch at 402-472-2526 or nbusch2@unl.edu.

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