September 15, 2015
Lincoln, Neb. — Faculty and staff within the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources gathered on Sept. 10 to hear from Ronnie Green, NU vice president, IANR Harlan Vice Chancellor and interim senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at UNL, during the IANR All Hands Meeting. The meeting is held twice a year and is an opportunity to hear about current successes, goals for the future and honor faculty and staff doing exemplary work.
Green focused heavily on how IANR is impacting the goals of the campus overall saying, “IANR should be leading UNL relative to the campus’s declared goals.” One of those goals is increased enrollment, which the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) continues to support. Enrollment in CASNR is in its 11th straight year of increase, up .6 percent this year to 2,267 students. IANR now holds 13.8 percent of UNL’s total enrollment, up from 8.5 percent in 2003.
There are currently 661 master’s and Ph.D. students studying at IANR, which Green sees as an area of opportunity.
“There is a significant part of enrollment growth within this institution that needs to be in graduate students,” he said. “We have to think about and build upon where our strength already is because we have really strong graduate student programs across IANR.”
One way to accomplish this growth, Green says, is through leveraging private and public partnerships fostered at Nebraska Innovation Campus. These relationships provide opportunities for collaboration and professional development. It will also be important to build upon the strength of new faculty members. Since Jan. 1 of 2012 a total of 100 tenure track faculty hires have been completed. When hiring is completed at the end of the 2016 academic year, IANR will have increased its faculty ranks by 20 percent.
“We are very proud to lead the university in the faculty growth goal,” said Green. “I am particularly proud of the fact these faculty come from all kinds of educational institutions and backgrounds.”
Growth at IANR has not been limited to people only. Last year was a record year for IANR based on total research expenditures and sponsored research. IANR is leading the campus in research expenditures.
Green also provided an update on the physical changes to IANR locations across the state that have recently occurred. Over the summer, a new headquarters building at the High Plains Agricultural Lab near Sidney was completed and named for pioneering UNL cropping systems specialist Charlie Fenster and the Henry J. Stumpf International Wheat Center near Grant was dedicated. A few projects on East Campus were completed as well, including a renovation of the East Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.
“It has been a fun time the past few years as we’ve been able to think about the long-term needs for our campus,” said Green.
One of those needs will be addressed with the construction of a new East Campus residence hall, scheduled to be home to students in the fall of 2017. A number of other projects are in the planning stages including a renovation to the Nebraska East Union, including a building addition; a renovation to C.Y. Thompson Library which will be transformed into a student learning commons, and a renovation to the Food Industry Complex.
Renovations to the Food Industry Complex are possible with the Department of Food Science and Technology and The Food Processing Center's move to Nebraska Innovation Campus, which Green says, “is a facility unlike any other in the world for food science and we’re very proud of that.”
Along with providing updates on growth, four Omtvedt Innovation Awards were presented during the All Hands Meeting. The awards recognize exceptional service for innovative research and teaching. John Rupnow, professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology received the Teaching award. Janos Zempleni, professor of molecular nutrition and director of the Nebraska Center for the Prevention of Obesity Diseases received the Research Award. The Nebraska Extension Farm Bill Education Team received the Extension award, and the Precision Ag Data Management Team received the Team award. The Omtvedt Innovation Awards are made possible through the generosity of Leone Harlan and her late husband, Neal, in honor of Dr. Irv Omtvedt and his distinguished career at the University of Nebraska.
Green concluded the meeting by encouraging all faculty and staff to stop and think about the primary mission of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, saying “we are here to educate students and to prepare them to be successful people.”
To view a video of the All Hands Meeting visit http://ianr.unl.edu/all-hands-meetings.Haley Steinkuhler