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.”
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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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Nov. 2014: Hank Bounds, 47, Commissioner of higher education at the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, is named as one of four finalists to replace President J.B. Milliken as president of the University of Nebraska system. Milliken had stepped down to take a position as chancellor of the City University of New York.
Jan. 2015: Bounds, center, is selected by regents as the next president.
April 2015: Bounds begins work in Nebraska under a three-year contract paying a $480,000 base salary plus $20,000 supplemental compensation. He launches a 6-day listening tour across the state.
Jan. 2016: Bounds requests an outside survey examining performance of University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst. Eichorst, whose controversial moves include a surprise 2014 hire of Mike Riley as UNL football coach after an abbreviated search, publicly says he welcomes the review.
April 2016: Bounds names Ronnie Green as chancellor of UNL.
Sept. 2016: Regents vote unanimously to give Bounds a 6.3 percent raise to $510,400.
September 2016: After UNO's arena finishes its first year in the red, Bounds pledges $2.3 million in NU system reserve funds over six years to help the school meet bond obligations.
December 2016: Bounds signs a petition of higher education leaders in support of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.
Jan. 2017: Bounds confirms he has told University of Nebraska at Omaha administrators that he will review any new expenditures of $10,000 or more that aren’t standard costs such as utilities, health insurance and other normal payouts. Bounds said the state’s budget bind and particularly tight financial margins at UNO precipitated the move. It comes as the university has an active search to replace retiring Chancellor John Christensen.
March 2017: Amid budget cuts forced in part by reduced state appropriations, working groups appointed by Bounds come up with budget savings across the university.
April 2017: Bounds announced the search for John Christensen’s replacement was on hold because the right person hadn’t been found. Bounds inserts Jeffrey Gold, University of Nebraska Medical Center chancellor, as UNO’s interim chancellor, most likely for two years or more. Gold also continues to lead UNMC.
Sept. 2017: Bounds reveals embattled football coach Mike Riley received a one-year contract extension through the 2020 season. Bounds also said that in August, Green had requested a one-year extension for Eichorst, but Bounds told him “let’s visit that in December.”
Sept. 2017: Eichorst is fired days after the Huskers suffer an embarrassing football loss to Northern Illinois. Bounds and Green say they weren’t satisfied with the results across all sports — not just football. Bounds deflects questions of Riley's status, saying “this is not about Mr. Riley right now.”
October 2017: After a search in which Bounds takes active part, Bill Moos is selected as the new UNL athletic director. By end of season, Moos fires Riley and names Scott Frost as new coach.
June 2018: Regents give Bounds a contract extension that will carry to mid-2023, but it does not include a raise.
Sept. 2018: Bounds begins serving on the board of The Buckle, the Kearney-based teen retailer.
September 2018: Bounds says he was "shocked and deeply saddened" by a state senator's column criticizing UNL's plan to hire a diversity vice chancellor, saying, "I've seen time and time again" the importance of diversity.
October 2018: Bounds says his office will analyze campus recruiting strategies after the overall NU enrollment drops by 1 percent.
Dec. 2018: Bounds names Gold as the "priority" candidate — and only candidate — to serve as UNO chancellor while continuing to lead UNMC, effectively making the dual role permanent.
February 2019: In joint statement with Green, Bounds releases a statement of "full support" for Moos.
March 2019: Bounds urges Legislature to fully fund NU's state appropriations request to to make the university more competitive.
March 2019: Bounds announces his resignation.