Chancellor: UNO must lead as metropolitan university


October 6th, 2011

Omaha, NE – The University of Nebraska Omaha must stake its claim as a leading metropolitan university. That was the message from UNO’s Chancellor in his annual State of the University address on Wednesday.

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“I don’t recall ever feeling the energy and the excitement that is apparent on this campus today,” Chancellor John Christensen told an audience of faculty, staff and development staff from the University of Nebraska Foundation. Christensen struck a positive and hopeful tone in his address about the future of UNO and the progress it’s made as a campus. “The visible changes to the campus are clearly part of the anticipation of what tomorrow may bring to UNO.”

Chancellor John Christensen said he has focused on building capacity during his tenure, and now it's time for UNO to grow. (Photo courtesy UNO)

Christensen said during his tenure as Chancellor, he has focused on building capacity – buildings and infrastructure to support a growing campus. “Some of you may recall 1993, with 17,000 students on the UNO campus, and try as we might, we could not serve them well,” he said. “This is not meant to be a criticism in any way. It’s simply a fact that we did not have the adequate infrastructure to serve a student body that size. And I suspect that we would all agree here today that growth and quality not being coupled together is untenable.”

Christensen said since then, the University has added 832,000 square feet of additional space, and 758,000 square feet of renovated or re-purposed space. Those projects include a brand new Mammel Hall that houses the College of Business Administration, a new home for the College of Education in Roskens Hall, and a renovated College of Public Affairs and Community Service building. Christensen said his next priority is to complete the planned Community Engagement Center that will house nonprofits and encourage community partnerships in public service. He also said a study on developing new facilities for UNO Athletics will be released in the fall.

UNO will aim to reach 20,000 students by 2020, Chancellor Christensen said Wednesday. (Photo courtesy UNO)

Christensen also set a goal of increasing enrollment at UNO: to reach 20,000 students by 2020. He said enrollment plans have been underfunded and uncoordinated in the past.

“We are a campus of wise women and men who refuse to rest or lie down until we achieve our vision of being a premier metropolitan university, a leader among our peers,” Christensen said. “When people think of exemplary metropolitan universities, UNO should immediately, should immediately, come to mind.”

Christensen added he has directed colleges on campus to streamline priorities for their departments, and expects those to be determined by spring, if not sooner. “We can’t be all things to all people,” he said, and the University must remain nimble and adaptable to the challenges of continued growth.

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