University of Nebraska President J.B. Milliken and the chancellors of NU's four campuses made a rare joint public appearance in Omaha on Wednesday.
Their appearance before the Rotary Club of Omaha attracted a larger-than-usual crowd of about 110 members and guests.
The discussion touched on the high points of recent initiatives to efforts to enhance the university system. Milliken, for example, touted the recent establishment of a university-affiliated research center with StratCom, an ongoing capital campaign that has exceeded its original $1.2 billion goal and a record enrollment of more than 3,500 international students.
NU Medical Center Chancellor Harold Maurer said construction of a $370 million cancer treatment and research facility soon would be underway, with demolition of Swanson Hall set for April 2013. The new building will house research laboratories, a 108-bed hospital and a clinic for outpatient treatment.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman talked about continuing efforts to beef up UNL for competition in the Big Ten. He said his campus needs to boost agriculture research, its business college and its engineering college to keep up with the stature of Big Ten schools in those areas. A recent plan to merge two computer-related engineering departments — one based in Omaha and the other in Lincoln — is part of that effort, he said.
Perlman also fended off some ribbing from Milliken and from audience members for the Huskers' recent 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship.
University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen told the audience about recent construction and renovation of residence halls and plans to build a health science education complex to provide new training for radiologists, physical therapists, physician assistants and other allied health professions. He noted that about 400 students from Omaha enroll at Kearney each year.
University of Nebraska at Omaha Chancellor John Christensen told of efforts to build UNO into a “premiere metropolitan university.” He noted that eight out of 10 UNO students participate in an internship, practicum or other on-the-job experiences.
The appearance was scheduled in conjunction with a day-long meeting at the Med Center, where Milliken and the four chancellors toured ongoing research and academic programs to seek out additional collaborative efforts between the campuses.
Milliken and the chancellors meet once a month, but the last time they made a joint public appearance was in September 2010, during a similar meeting at the Kearney campus.
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