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Nebraska Board of Regents chair ‘not concerned’ amid multiple leadership transitions

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Nebraska Board of Regents chair ‘not concerned’ amid multiple leadership transitions

Dec 10, 2023 | 10:51 pm ET
By Zach Wendling
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Nebraska Board of Regents chair ‘not concerned’ amid multiple leadership transitions
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Regent Tim Clare, at right, joins Jay Lemons, leader of the consulting firm Academic Search, during an advisory committee meeting to find NU's next president. Clare leads the advisory committee Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Lincoln. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — The chair of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents said last week he is not concerned in the face of multiple high-ranking leadership transitions across NU.

University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen announced he plans to retire at the end of the academic year after 22 years of service at UNK. In response, Regent Tim Clare of Lincoln told the Nebraska Examiner on Friday that there is always a “next chapter” and NU will find a successful replacement for Kristensen who will move the university forward.

“He has been a public servant and not a backbencher guy — a guy that’s out front. I think we as a state, we as a university, are better, in part, because of Doug,” Clare said.

“I’m not concerned about it whatsoever,” Clare added.

Kristensen is the longest-serving chancellor in NU history and is the longest currently serving leader of any higher education institute in the state. He previously served 14 years in the Nebraska Legislature.

Next year, Kristensen’s departure will mark the third high-ranking administrator to leave in just under a year, joining a national trend of higher education administrators’ shrinking tenures.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green retired at the end of June, after seven years of service. NU Ted Carter is on his way out the door Dec. 31 to lead The Ohio State University, after four years in Nebraska.

NU’s “next chapter” could bring a different lens to NU as regents eye longevity, at least in the search for Carter’s successor.

That search, with Clare chairing the regents’ advisory search committee, has a goal to find a leader deeply committed to Nebraska and willing to remain in the president’s seat for a decade or more.

This summer, Rodney Bennett of the University of Southern Mississippi succeeded Green and said during a candidate forum he plans to work at Nebraska for about 10 years.

Nebraska Board of Regents chair ‘not concerned’ amid multiple leadership transitions
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Rodney Bennett speaks to Nebraska lawmakers on his campus Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in Lincoln. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

In addition to Bennett and Kristensen’s successor, University of Nebraska at Omaha Chancellor Joanne Li and University of Nebraska Medical Center Chancellor Jeffrey Gold remain at the helm of NU’s two Omaha campuses. Li joined UNO in July 2021. Gold has served in the UNMC role since early 2014, including four years as chancellor concurrently of UNO and UNMC.

Applications or nominations for the next NU president are due by Jan. 1. Chris Kabourek, NU’s chief financial officer and interim president beginning Jan. 1, said he’ll quickly formulate a process to identify UNK’s next leader.

“We’ve got too many good things that are positive for the university, and we’re going to get things continuing to move up and forward,” Clare said. “I’m excited about our future.”