Chancellor issues welcome back as fall semester opens

Dear Colleagues:

It has become customary for me to welcome you all back at the beginning of the academic year and I do so here as excited as I have always been about our prospects, the great things that are happening at the university, and the additional accomplishments that you will all make happen in the year ahead. So, welcome back. This is an extraordinary time and I am anxious to report more formally to you in my annual State of the University address about what I propose for our future direction. Hope to see you at the Lied Center on Sept. 11 at 11 a.m.

But, hey, why start with unadorned positives. Let’s sprinkle in a few annoyances, I thought. So we scheduled the construction around 14th and “R” to make sure it was not completed until school started, thus allowing everyone to share in the inconvenience. And we successfully convinced the City of Lincoln to wait to “remill” P and Q streets until late in the summer so it would have the maximum disruptive effect on the university. Unfortunately I was late to a meeting in Omaha on Monday because no matter what street I tried, I couldn’t get to the interstate from my office. And if we pegged this just right, we can enjoy the employee picnic after the State of the University address on wet asphalt while listening to the sound of the milling machine. It just doesn’t get better than this.

These annoyances, however, seemed insufficient because it really only impacted those of us on this side of City Campus. So the senior administrative team thought hard about how we could reaffirm the view that administrators really are on the dark side. We considered establishing the BlackBerry as the only authorized mobile device for UNL personnel. In the face of the water shortage, we thought of a public campaign to reduce water use by featuring me swimming in a dry Broyhill Fountain. And after rejecting very expensive bids from outside consultants, we crafted our own new policy prohibiting pets in campus buildings. The gross annoyance achieved of course has to be reduced by the cheers from faculty and staff allergic to or distracted by pets and from those who have to clean up the messes. We are convinced there is still a net annoyance factor here.

As you all know, and remind me from time to time, the purpose of the campus administration is to create annoyances. What you don’t know is how hard it is to come up with new stuff, to stay fresh, to be creative. This takes real effort on our part and I hope you appreciate the care with which we proceed.

Seriously, welcome back. The energy of the new wave of students will soon be upon us. It is important work we are about. The daily annoyances we all face fade in relation to the extraordinary gift we have all been given to work in a community of such talented people and with such expanding opportunities to serve our students, our state, our nation and the world. I know the entire administration looks forward to supporting your efforts (with as few annoyances as possible).

— Harvey Perlman, Chancellor