Students & Parents | Trusteeship

Speak up on NU president search

LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR   |  March 14, 2014 by Editorial

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents is asking people to tell them what sort of individual should become the next president for NU.

We hope that many Nebraskans take them up on the offer.

It’s hard to overestimate how important NU is to the state. It’s the springboard for thousands of individual careers. It’s an economic driver. It’s a cultural resource. Its sports programs unite the state.

The invitation for input, which can be found at, is a welcome change in tone from the attempt by the regents earlier this year to keep much of the search behind closed doors until a finalist was selected.

Opening the door to public comment at the start of the selection process is in line with recommendations from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. The organization suggests that the best times to seek input are at the start, and at the end when the regents are making a final pick from a group of finalists.

For its part, the Journal Star editorial board would like to see a new president with a commitment and vision for continuing the push to put NU in a leadership position in the global effort to feed a world population that is growing exponentially.

President J.B. Milliken helped broaden and bring new energy to that vision during his decade of leadership. It’s a good fit for Nebraska.

That effort took a giant leap forward with a $50 million donation from Robert Daugherty, founder of Valmont, that helped create the Water for Food Institute. Worldwide food production accounts for more than 85 percent of the world’s freshwater consumption.

The world is desperate for answers on how to feed a hungry world while using land and water in a sustainable fashion.

The next leader for NU should be someone with drive and ideas on how the university can lead in the science of food production and water conservation.

On the NU website regents say they want people to tell them what they want the next president to accomplish, what the key issues are facing the state and what sort of prior experiences, skills and personal attributes the next president should have. The regents even ask for suggestions on who should be hired.

Regents last week selected the national executive search firm Isaacson, Miller to help select the next president. They have also discussed the formation of a search committee to work with Isaacson, Miller and the board.

Regents Chairman Howard Hawks said various stakeholder groups including students, faculty members, administrators and others outside the university will be represented on the committee.

The process for selecting someone to replace President J.B. Milliken seems to be on track. Nebraskans should take advantage of the opportunity to keep the effort moving forward.


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