Lincoln, Neb. —University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green has tapped Kathleen Lodl, associate dean of Nebraska Extension and Nebraska 4-H program leader, to lead UNL’s efforts for coordinating, preparing, and submitting its application to be designated as a Carnegie Community Engagement Campus. Green announced Lodl’s new and expanded leadership role during the 2021 State of Our University Address on Monday.
The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification is intended to assist in a process of institutional change to improve the educational effectiveness of the campus through the institutionalization of community engagement. This is not an award but rather a designation that signals an institution’s commitment to “their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity,” according to the Carnegie Foundation. Recognition as a community-engaged institution would both formally acknowledge UNL’s long-standing commitment to Nebraska and place it on a list of more than 100 other higher education institutions including Cornell, Wake Forest, Loyola, Ohio State, and Notre Dame.
Broadening Nebraska’s engagement in community, industry and global partnerships is one of six aims Green outlined as part of the University’s N2025 Plan, which he announced during the 2020 State of Our University Address. Becoming a Carnegie Community Engagement Campus is a key component of expanding UNL’s community engagement. Green’s goal is for UNL to submit its application for this designation by April 2023.
Engagement — the co-creation, co-discovery and co-development of solutions — is key to the land grant mission of the University of Nebraska. Engagement brings Nebraska to the world, and the world to Nebraska through a university where students, faculty, staff and alumni are actively engaged across Nebraska and beyond. It is imperative that the university embrace a culture of engagement and partnership that generates genuine mutual benefit both in Nebraska and across the world, while creating extraordinary opportunities for students, alumni, industry, community partners, faculty, and staff.
“The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is already highly engaged all across the state through our Alumni Association, Husker Athletics, Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska State Museum, the Lied Center for the Performing Arts, and myriad other facets of our great institution,” Lodl said. “We are starting from an extremely strong foundation, and I’m very excited to begin connecting with my fellow campus leaders, faculty, staff, students, and stakeholders as we work toward expanding UNL’s relationships and engagement across Nebraska and beyond.”
Lodl has been instrumental in growing and strengthening Nebraska’s already robust statewide 4-H program. Under her leadership, Nebraska 4-H has engaged one in three Nebraska youth, which translates to a total of 142,000 youth statewide. In addition, she initiated the Next Chapter program, in which 8th graders in 4-H are pre-admitted to UNL and given the opportunity to consider careers, complete required courses and prepare to complete an undergraduate degree in four years or less.
Lodl also has worked to increase Nebraska 4-H’s national profile; has helped grow the Extension focus on early childhood education; and has worked to increase strategic partnerships between Nebraska Extension and other entities, including partnerships that made possible the popular Raising Nebraska exhibit at the Nebraska State Fair. In 2020, she was instrumental in reimagining 4-H so that youth could safely participate in 4-H programming and in county and state fairs in during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lodl received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and began her career with Nebraska Extension as a graduate teaching and research assistant in 1984.
“Kathleen has worked with youth, families and communities all across Nebraska,” said Dave Varner, interim dean and director of Nebraska Extension. “Her energy, enthusiasm and creativity are infectious, and I have no doubt she will hit the target that Chancellor Green has set in terms of becoming a Carnegie Community Engagement Campus.”
Lodl will begin meeting with vice chancellors, deans, center directors and other campus leaders to better understand UNL’s existing engagement efforts. From there, she plans to engage the broader UNL community to chart a course that will lead to the submission of UNL’s Carnegie Community Engagement Campus application package. Those wishing to be part of this journey may reach out directly to Lodl at email@example.com.