A Zoom record 62 Rotarians and guests heard Ted Carter's update on his first year as president of the University of Nebraska system, a year that made him feel fully welcomed by the state while administering a business with 70,000 faculty staff and students housed in 900 buildings.
     He early set a goal of growing from good to great, characterizing growth in terms of affordability, accessibility and "not just numbers but citizenship."  He also emphasized work-force development, citing a large effort required to meet the state's needs.  Stressing inclusion, the former U.S. Naval Academy leader, vowed "to make sure all are welcome and all voices are heard."
     In the transition to conditions dominated by Covid-19, "We did all we promised," kept open with a majority of classes in person, but employing a hybrid online model. "We adjusted classroom time," finishing fall classes by Thanksgiving, and having a longer interim before the spring semester.
     Though enrollment was down in most of the nation's universities, "Ours rose for the first time in three years," and that included "a significant increase in under-represented minorities."  A goal of attaining a faculty as diverse as the student body is hindered by the fact that the student body turns over much faster than tenured faculty.
     President Carter said, "I'll look you in the eye and say we're looking for a diversity candidate" in a national search for the next chancellor at UNO.
     Rotary president John Sullivan asked him about this generation of students and Carter agreed that they are more service-oriented, comparing them to the World War II "greatest generation."
     Asked about increased Covid testing of students, Carter suggested, "We've gotten smarter" with experience in doing the key job to keep students and faculty safe. 
     He cited "great research being done," noting recent grants of $92 million and $35 million, and explained the university's role in making a pitch to bring the new Space Command to Offutt.  It helps that UNO is still rated the third most military-friendly school in the U.S.
~Warren Francke
Guest Journalist