Board of Regents has more questions than answers on search for new NU president

Board of Regents has more questions than answers on search for new NU president
NU President Hank Bounds strides across UNL's campus before a 2017 press conference. MATT DIXON/THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — The chairman of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents expressed confidence Friday that it would do its most important task deliberately and well.

That task is the hiring of the NU system’s president.

After a two-hour closed session of the regents, Chairman Tim Clare of Lincoln quoted the late UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden: “Be quick but don’t hurry.”

NU President Hank Bounds announced this week that he would leave Nebraska in August and return to the South with his family, where the Boundses are from. Bounds said he was worn down by the grind of the job.

Clare said during the Board of Regents’ official meeting that he wanted to address “the elephant in the room” — Bounds’ departure.

Clare called Bounds tireless and dedicated. He said that while he was sorry to accept Bounds’ departure, he respected that Bounds put his family first.

Bounds, who seemed loose and cheerful, said: “I could be called a lot of things, but never an elephant.”

The regents had far more questions than answers about the search to come, according to Clare. He said they have asked NU attorneys numerous questions about presidential searches and that the attorneys will get back to them shortly.

He said it was too early to say whether the regents would use a search firm, an NU search committee or an interim president.

He called NU’s presidency “a great job. … We’re going to do a quality search that’s going to result in a top-quality” successor to Bounds.

In other action, the regents:

» Approved a degree in medical humanities at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The degree (both bachelor of arts and bachelor of science) will be offered by the College of Arts and Sciences in collaboration with the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media.

» Created a Center for Professional Sales in the UNO College of Business Administration. The center, through partnerships with businesses, will provide training in sales for students and connect them to internships.

» Agreed to allow UNO to create the STEM TRAIL Center. The center wouldn’t immediately require a specific place at UNO. The center would bring faculty members from different disciplines together and make UNO more competitive in acquiring federal grants for STEM. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. TRAIL stands for teaching, research and inquiry-based learning.

» Increased the budget for the renovation of UNMC’s Williams Science Hall from $10 million to $12.7 million. The difference will be made up with private money. The increase will provide space for the High School Alliance and an academic services area.

» Heard Chuck Hibberd, dean and director of Nebraska Extension, say that Nebraska’s recovery from the recent flooding will take 9.3 years, according to experts.

» Listened to citizen Stephanie Barth discuss a “racial disparity in the UNL school of music.” For instance, she said, seven white male faculty members “front,” or head, the jazz studies program. Similarly, she said, white men dominate a history of rock ‘n’ roll program.

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