From Allen Benton molding four city blocks into a fledgling university campus to Ronnie Green guiding the institution into its 150th year and beyond, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a history of groundbreaking leadership.
Serving just four years (1891-1895), James Canfield ranks as one of the most consequential chancellors in Nebraska’s history. His guidance of the young institution added paved sidewalks, formal landscaping and the erection of the historic decorative iron fence that surrounded the original City Campus until the 1920s. Canfield also oversaw construction of the campus’ first library, known today as Architecture Hall and the university’s oldest standing building.
Combined, Canfield’s work established Nebraska alongside Michigan, Wisconsin and California as one of the “big four” universities of the American West.
In 1954, Clifford Hardin became the youngest chancellor in the university’s history. He led the institution through a period of immense growth that included an expansion of the physical campus, the establishment of the Nebraska Center for Continuing Education and a merger with the Municipal University of Omaha. Appointed as U.S. secretary of agriculture in 1968, Hardin’s 14 years set up the university for success as it prepared for its centennial in 1969.
Through the turn of the century, Harvey Perlman guided the university to continued success: launching Nebraska Innovation Campus, joining the Big Ten Conference and setting new trajectories for growth.
Last week, Chancellor Green delivered his State of the University address, outlining a bold vision charted by the N150 Commission and the plan to implement it. For 150 years and still today, university chancellors have worked to shape Nebraska’s university to help create a brighter future for Nebraska’s people.