Mutually Beneficial Partnerships are the Future

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My first official day as the 20th chancellor of this great land-grant institution was May 25, 2016, after six years as Harlan Vice Chancellor of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. I am grateful to Harvey Perlman, who was chancellor for 16 years and led this university into a new era of academics, athletics and student life.

I step into my first year as chancellor with excitement, knowing we must continue our university’s growth in new ways to contribute even more significantly to solving the world’s challenges. Many of those challenges are in this university’s areas of strength: food, energy, water, landscapes and people. Continuing that growth will require collaborations to achieve those goals.

This 2016 Strategic Discussions for Nebraska publication, “Growing Opportunities through Public-Private Partnerships” introduces many of the mutually beneficial partnerships that are the future of research, teaching and extension. Through these partnerships, we are finding solutions, sharing those solutions with others and developing the pipeline of talented students ready to join the workforce in complex fields of study, such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I believe partnerships are essential for our shared future, not only for the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, but for others who join us in solving the world’s problems.

Nebraska Innovation Campus is an excellent example of attracting businesses to partner with the university. Food manufacturers partner with the UNL Department of Food Science and Technology, which moved to Nebraska Innovation Campus in the summer of 2015 to some of the best facilities in the world. Those facilities are a magnet for businesses around the world searching for better and safer ways to produce food. Technology startups are improving animal, human and environmental health while creating new jobs for our graduates. Crop science partnerships have helped build facilities in which UNL scientists can replicate growing conditions all over the world. Nebraska Innovation Studio, a maker space on Nebraska Innovation Campus, is open to anyone who wants to learn, experiment and invent. The best institutions in the world have such spaces, where imagination has no limits.

Funding our future requires us to think in new ways. What can our students learn from working alongside businesses? What can the businesses gain from working alongside the university’s faculty, in outstanding research facilities? How can we nurture entrepreneurship in the university’s areas of strength? How can we become a university with even more strengths?

The State of Nebraska has been generous in funding the work of this university. We are grateful to Nebraska’s taxpayers for understanding the importance of our teaching, research and extension. You also have expressed your confidence in us by sending your children to the University of Nebraska.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is an internationally distinguished land-grant university and I look forward to every collaboration that will ensure its continued growth. I invite you to partner with us for our future. The public good depends on our efforts.