Academic Affairs, Student Affairs realign to work toward State of U goals

Chancellor Harvey Perlman
Chancellor Harvey Perlman

Dear Colleagues,

I have been very encouraged by the response both from within and outside the university to the transformative goals I proposed in the State of the University address – To create an academically talented student body of 30,000 students, increase our six-year graduation rate to 70 percent, hire 160 more tenure track faculty and increase the number of other faculty and staff who can support our goals, double the number of noteworthy national and international awards received by our faculty, and increase our total research expenditures to $300 million.

I am not so naive to think that increasing the size, quality and accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff will be easily achieved but together we have gone beyond the common expectation in the past and we can do it again. Transforming UNL into a Big Ten school in fact, not just in name, requires that we focus on those goals in everything we do.

In that light we have been considering how to best focus Academic Affairs and Student Affairs to be optimally positioned to achieve these objectives. Our concept is to have Academic Affairs concentrate on excellence in the student curricular experience and to develop, with the engagement of the deans and faculty, a coordinated plan for providing rich academic programs for a larger, better prepared and more diverse student body. The ultimate goal in this area is to enhance student academic experiences and thus be better positioned to attract and graduate more students who fit the UNL Big Ten profile.

This has led us to move Admissions, Registration and Records and Student Financial Aid to Academic Affairs. Senior Vice Chancellor Ellen Weissinger and the deans will lead the effort to recruit, retain and academically challenge a student body of 30,000 students. Student Affairs will focus on the student experience outside of the formal academic experience. We know this is crucial to retention as well as recruitment.

Vice Chancellor Juan Franco will lead a major initiative with Student Affairs units to engage students and expand their experience. Particular attention will be paid to how we maximize the engagement of international and non-resident students — two categories central to achieving our goals. He will also marshal the activities of Housing, Campus Recreation, the Unions, Student Health, Student Involvement and other Student Affairs units toward meeting our goals.

As always we will require considerable interaction between all the administrative units in both Academic Affairs and Student Affairs to be successful, but this new organization reflects how most of our Big Ten colleagues are organized. Both Senior Vice Chancellor Weissinger and Vice Chancellor Franco have enthusiastically embraced this change. I hope this will signal the campus as a whole that there is a need to rethink everything we do and to become almost fanatical in working to grow and enhance the academic profile of the university — its student body, its graduation rates, its faculty and its research.

A number of you have asked me if we have worked out all that will be required to successfully achieve our goals. The answer is that we have not. I didn't have a detailed plan for the last 10 years other than my belief that this university and its people were better than we imagined ourselves to be in 2000. My "plan" was to propose a destination and to rely on each of you to help us get there. I'm going to rely on you again. As the book "Good to Great" suggests, leaders of great institutions get the right people on the bus and get out of their way. The energy, creativity and loyalty of our faculty and staff clearly demonstrate we've got the right people on our bus. I'll "get out of your way" by removing barriers to your success, by advocating for resources that facilitate your highest ambitions and by celebrating with you when we have built the new Big Ten university that we are determined to create.

— Harvey Perlman, Chancellor