KRVN Chat with the Chancellor
Ronnie Green talks about the research and creative scholarship Grand Challenges identified by faculty and announced at the February 15 State of Our University address. Green also talks about the recent opening of the new Dinsdale Family Learning Commons and his lifelong involvement in 4-H and FFA.
icon search Searchable Transcript
Toggle between list and paragraph view.
[00:00:00.530]Bryce Doeschot with the Rural Radio Network
[00:00:02.380]on our weekly chat with the chancellor program.
[00:00:04.530]This week, we are joined by the chancellor
[00:00:06.100]of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Dr. Ronnie Green.
[00:00:09.320]Dr. Green, let's start out this week's conversation talking
[00:00:11.919]about the recent State of our University Address
[00:00:14.560]that you gave and in that, you unveiled seven
[00:00:16.740]of what you called grand challenges.
[00:00:18.817]And for our listeners and myself,
[00:00:20.860]of what those challenges are that you laid out?
[00:00:23.380]Well Bryce, every year
[00:00:25.640]we have the State of the University Address
[00:00:27.810]that we moved a couple of years ago now,
[00:00:30.390]when we celebrated our 150th Anniversary
[00:00:33.270]of UNL to the birthday of the university
[00:00:38.280]which is February the 15th.
[00:00:40.730]Were formed in 1869.
[00:00:42.730]And so, just had this a little over a week ago,
[00:00:48.380]with the state of our university for 2021.
[00:00:52.890]And one of the things that was highlighted
[00:00:55.830]in that address was the unveiling publicly
[00:00:59.400]for the first time of seven grand challenge areas
[00:01:02.540]that the university is going to focus on.
[00:01:06.543]Obviously we're a comprehensive research university,
[00:01:09.530]so we do research across the board
[00:01:12.090]in pretty much all areas.
[00:01:14.610]But we want to have this particular focus
[00:01:17.410]across the institution in this period ahead
[00:01:21.650]on what these seven grand challenge areas
[00:01:24.130]that have been identified.
[00:01:25.750]And that are what I like to refer to
[00:01:28.030]as kind of big wicked challenges that are important
[00:01:30.720]to Nebraska, important to Nebraska and the world.
[00:01:34.640]It's a key part of our in 2025 plan
[00:01:38.410]which we actually released
[00:01:41.290]last year at the state of our university
[00:01:43.550]in February of 2020.
[00:01:46.070]It's our five-year strategic plan on division for UNL
[00:01:50.365]and a big part of that plan calls for
[00:01:53.940]the focus in these grand challenge areas
[00:01:56.560]of our research and creative activity moving forward.
[00:02:00.917]This past year, our office of research
[00:02:04.280]and development undertook a pretty exhaustive effort
[00:02:08.260]among our faculty and staff in setting criteria
[00:02:11.910]for these challenges, identifying what these challenges are
[00:02:15.360]exploring ideas of how to approach these challenges
[00:02:18.790]and to develop and finalize these themes.
[00:02:22.030]Nearly 500 of our faculty and staff engaged in that effort
[00:02:27.360]which happened really during the pandemic in May,
[00:02:30.800]June and July of 2020.
[00:02:34.680]And came forward with what I think are absolutely
[00:02:38.710]the right seven grand challenges for UNL.
[00:02:43.700]Four of them, are in well-established areas where
[00:02:47.860]we've had international, national, low level leadership
[00:02:52.837]in higher education for some time.
[00:02:56.780]The first one, is in sustainable water
[00:03:00.280]and food security and feeding a planet by 2050
[00:03:03.550]there'll be 10 billion people.
[00:03:04.840]And in size and scale, an area that
[00:03:08.170]we've had longstanding strength in
[00:03:11.060]across sustainable water and food security
[00:03:14.360]and of course the importance of agriculture
[00:03:16.480]and the food system in Nebraska is almost unparalleled,
[00:03:20.920]as we know.
[00:03:23.430]Secondly, in early childhood education and development
[00:03:27.158]where we know that in the years of zero
[00:03:30.780]to eight years of age, in those developmental stage years
[00:03:35.770]of young children, that much of the setting
[00:03:39.310]for future outcomes and success in those future outcomes
[00:03:43.880]is set in that period of time developmentally.
[00:03:48.430]So again, in an area
[00:03:50.170]of strength that our institution has had
[00:03:52.640]for some time in the area of early childhood education
[00:03:56.040]and development is certainly one
[00:03:57.760]of those key grand challenges.
[00:04:01.350]Thirdly, climate change mitigation and resilience,
[00:04:04.230]which of course combines a lot of different aspects of UNL,
[00:04:08.080]where we were national leaders in
[00:04:10.520]the areas like, climate variability
[00:04:14.537]and drought resistance and mitigation.
[00:04:19.065]And in looking toward ways that we continue to adapt
[00:04:23.357]in terms of climate resilience.
[00:04:27.020]And then fourth, we're in quantum science and engineering
[00:04:29.446]was something that not everyone
[00:04:32.240]may know is that UNL for a long time
[00:04:36.310]has been seen as an international leader
[00:04:38.430]in the area of physics and quantum mechanics.
[00:04:41.470]It's a lone standing area of strength
[00:04:43.410]here in our institution.
[00:04:45.448]And it is clear that there is
[00:04:47.910]another quantum revolution coming,
[00:04:51.200]beyond what we have already seen in terms
[00:04:53.386]of the technology that governs much of our lives today.
[00:04:56.670]The computers, lasers,
[00:04:59.088]the advanced medical imaging, just to, you know
[00:05:02.080]a few of those areas that have come out of this field.
[00:05:05.672]And we know that the next wave
[00:05:08.640]of that revolution is eminent.
[00:05:11.040]So area of strength as well for UNL.
[00:05:14.770]And then, three additional topics
[00:05:17.030]there ones that we feel like we must be engaged
[00:05:19.810]in the time that's ahead first
[00:05:23.410]and health equity and alleviating health equity
[00:05:27.410]between segments of the population
[00:05:29.820]or in studying how that can be achieved
[00:05:32.303]and reducing inequities in health.
[00:05:36.600]Anti-racism and racial equity,
[00:05:39.260]an area that is critically important
[00:05:41.660]as we move forward as well.
[00:05:43.860]And then lastly, science and technology literacy
[00:05:49.249]We have continued to see a development
[00:05:53.320]of a less literate in science and technology overall
[00:06:00.640]culturally in our society.
[00:06:02.506]And that's led to some level of misinformation
[00:06:06.910]and misuse in particular around science.
[00:06:09.590]And so this is an area that we know this institution
[00:06:13.570]can be strong and lead in
[00:06:16.067]as another area of grand challenge.
[00:06:18.680]So I'm excited about the release of those.
[00:06:20.910]As I said publicly for the first time,
[00:06:24.350]in the State of the University on the 15th
[00:06:27.540]and I'm excited about moving forward with investment
[00:06:31.030]in these areas and further strengthening
[00:06:33.300]of these areas for UNL's focus in the years ahead.
[00:06:38.890]Well, Dr. Green, you're calling them grand challenges
[00:06:41.240]that of course they are grand, so I don't imagine
[00:06:43.190]you can tie a particular timeline to how you can
[00:06:45.690]begin to achieve some of these
[00:06:47.510]but I wanna ask how it changes your thinking
[00:06:50.040]that you ask the faculty and staff and students too
[00:06:53.740]to have at the University of Nebraska
[00:06:55.100]by unveiling those seven different areas.
[00:06:57.890]Well, you know, we're a land grant institution,
[00:07:02.570]as you know, the University of Nebraska was founded
[00:07:05.470]as a land grant institution and in 1869
[00:07:08.940]when we were chartered.
[00:07:10.575]And that tripartite mission of education
[00:07:13.860]and research and scholarship
[00:07:15.560]particularly what I was referring to
[00:07:17.220]in some of the discussion around those grand challenges
[00:07:20.060]a minute ago.
[00:07:20.893]As well as outreach and extension of being the front door
[00:07:24.080]of the University to the state of Nebraska.
[00:07:27.540]In this case so it, you know, it's just a doubling down
[00:07:31.950]if you will on that land grant mission
[00:07:36.070]in focusing in these areas.
[00:07:38.750]You know, and again I just would reiterate as well.
[00:07:42.680]You know when I say,
[00:07:43.520]we're a comprehensive research institution
[00:07:45.950]you know, we do research across all breadth of fields
[00:07:49.350]that the university is engaged in, and we're not departing
[00:07:54.250]from that, in focusing on these,
[00:07:56.715]we will continue to be a research leader across all fields.
[00:08:02.770]But focusing in very heavily on these areas
[00:08:06.920]in an interdisciplinary way across the campus,
[00:08:09.550]across the units across the campus,
[00:08:12.279]will allow us to become even stronger
[00:08:15.650]in leading in these areas.
[00:08:18.290]So I'm very, very pleased to be committed
[00:08:22.130]to that those grand challenges in moving forward.
[00:08:26.130]Dr. Green let's shift things up a little bit
[00:08:27.890]in our last couple of minutes we have
[00:08:29.110]on this week's conversation and talk about
[00:08:30.863]East campus that is becoming a whole different place
[00:08:33.610]from even a few years ago that I graduated.
[00:08:35.600]And the years that you were spending most of your time
[00:08:38.670]over on the East campus
[00:08:39.730]of course now occupying a lot of your time on city campus.
[00:08:42.400]I'm sure you still get over there often though,
[00:08:44.380]things look different in the union.
[00:08:46.302]And most recently you opened up a new learning commens.
[00:08:48.510]Tell me about, some of the new features inside
[00:08:51.210]there and the importance of updating that space.
[00:08:54.330]Well, I have a very deep fondness
[00:08:57.930]in my heart, Bryce, as you know, for East campus.
[00:09:01.010]I actually grew up, a good part of my life
[00:09:03.450]on East campus as a doctoral student that was based
[00:09:08.059]on East campus and animal science in the 1980s.
[00:09:11.540]And have a deep, deep affection and affinity there.
[00:09:15.030]Did spend the earlier part of my career as you mentioned,
[00:09:17.630]as the Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture
[00:09:19.540]and Natural Resources.
[00:09:20.670]And there've been some major advancements,
[00:09:23.460]in terms of the infrastructure and facilities
[00:09:26.217]for East campus over the last few years.
[00:09:30.320]Now, a couple of years ago, we opened a new dormitory
[00:09:34.230]a Massengale Residential Living Center in the center
[00:09:37.110]of East campus for students living on East campus.
[00:09:42.640]So excited to bring that onboard.
[00:09:46.160]Now, I think we're in our third year in that facility.
[00:09:50.354]We just recently completed the complete renovation
[00:09:54.190]and addition to the Nebraska East Union on East campus.
[00:09:58.650]So it's been completely redone,
[00:10:00.833]from top to bottom so to speak.
[00:10:03.560]A new, exciting space there including a
[00:10:06.920]major expansion of the Great Plains Ballroom
[00:10:09.500]it's now about double in size to what it was previously.
[00:10:13.340]So excited to see that, come onboard here
[00:10:17.300]just in the last few months, the last pieces
[00:10:20.350]of that renovation was completed.
[00:10:22.940]And then, more recently with the
[00:10:25.480]start of our spring semester in late January,
[00:10:29.230]we reopened the new Dinsdale Family Learning Common situated
[00:10:33.720]in the, you might think of it as a triangle, right?
[00:10:36.010]The Massengale Residential Centers
[00:10:37.930]right beside the East Union, that is in a
[00:10:40.737]make a third arm of that triangle,
[00:10:42.970]and you come to the former C.Y. Thompson Library
[00:10:46.360]on East campus.
[00:10:47.710]Longstanding library facility, that's just been finished
[00:10:51.270]as a completely renovated new student learning commons
[00:10:55.950]for all of East campus and for the greater university.
[00:11:00.110]It was a 22 and a half million dollar project
[00:11:03.730]that turned the main floor
[00:11:07.220]and the lower level floor of that facility
[00:11:10.260]into a tech rich hub for student learning,
[00:11:14.830]as well as continues to house the power library
[00:11:17.850]of the C.Y. Thompson Library collection.
[00:11:21.490]And then the top floor of that building
[00:11:23.780]now is the new home for the
[00:11:25.240]Ingler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program.
[00:11:29.060]That's now in its 11th year, at the University
[00:11:32.297]and very successful.
[00:11:33.710]So very excited about it.
[00:11:35.460]It is now named in honor of the Dinsdale family of Nebraska
[00:11:39.850]who made a major gift commitment.
[00:11:42.840]From Sid Dinsdale, Chris Dinsdale and Jane Dinsdale Rogers
[00:11:46.650]in honor of their father, Roy Dinsdale,
[00:11:49.872]legendary figure in the Agri world in Nebraska,
[00:11:53.620]and in the banking world in Nebraska as well.
[00:11:55.910]The Pinnacle Bank family
[00:11:57.568]and by Lynn Dinsdale-Marcasey and Tom Dinsdale,
[00:12:01.770]in honor of their father.
[00:12:03.460]From the Grand Islander area. the late John Jack,
[00:12:07.330]he's better known to nickname Jack Dinsdale.
[00:12:10.570]So very pleased to have the Dinsdale family name
[00:12:13.213]on that new facility.
[00:12:15.680]And that was also enabled, I should mention
[00:12:18.500]a lot of gifts came in to fund
[00:12:20.990]that 22 and a half million dollar renovation.
[00:12:24.090]And there was a leak if there was made
[00:12:25.930]by Ruth and Bill Scott from Omaha,
[00:12:29.490]major philanthropists who have supported so much
[00:12:32.200]across the university system and most recently this as well.
[00:12:36.930]So it was the first chance you get to get back
[00:12:39.300]on East campus for your listeners who are familiar
[00:12:42.820]with East campus or spent time on East campus.
[00:12:46.190]Make sure you get a chance to see this facility.
[00:12:49.610]And we can be more excited
[00:12:51.800]about this new nexus hub for UNL's East campus.
[00:12:55.980]Well, it sounds like a great facility and looking forward
[00:12:58.040]to heading over there myself sometimes soon.
[00:13:00.430]Dr. Green want to end on this note, it's a currently
[00:13:02.890]National FFA Week, and we're also celebrating
[00:13:05.270]National 4H month here in February.
[00:13:07.950]You have been in both organizations heavily involved
[00:13:10.690]with them still as you go about your career here
[00:13:13.490]but have you thought about how much different your life
[00:13:15.760]would be without those two youth organizations?
[00:13:19.420]Well Bryce, you know and I know
[00:13:20.810]I'm preaching to the choir here,
[00:13:21.930]you former FFA State Officer from Nebraska yourself.
[00:13:26.550]You know, I grew up in both of those organizations
[00:13:32.330]in my native state of Virginia.
[00:13:34.910]Last Friday, a week ago was the
[00:13:38.790]kind of National 4H spotlight day
[00:13:41.280]and was reminiscing with our 4H people
[00:13:44.210]across the state of Nebraska, Nebraska 4H, obviously a part
[00:13:47.121]of the University of Nebraska Lincoln in Nebraska extension.
[00:13:52.620]I learned a tremendous amount through 4H experience.
[00:13:56.750]I was a Virginia 4H All-Star in 1979.
[00:13:59.800]I think it was, that'll date me a little bit and FFA.
[00:14:04.280]I mean, I still think of it as the
[00:14:08.220]National Future Farmers of America Organization.
[00:14:11.630]I know it's now known as the National FFA Organization.
[00:14:15.220]I had the pleasure of serving as a
[00:14:17.380]State FFA Officer in my home state in 1979.
[00:14:22.320]And just the leadership development, the understanding
[00:14:26.500]of agriculture that's developed through that,
[00:14:30.070]and the ability to learn how to work and lead
[00:14:35.331]It's been an indelible mark on me personally.
[00:14:39.710]And so it is National FFA week and a great time
[00:14:44.580]of year to remember that I can remember
[00:14:46.070]and tell you what I did during National FFA week in 1979.
[00:14:50.380]Was I visited 52 FFA Chapters, in Virginia
[00:14:55.180]as part of my state officer year.
[00:14:57.190]And so it brings back great memories for me
[00:14:59.850]and just wonderful to be able to support the Nebraska FFA
[00:15:02.940]that continues to grow.
[00:15:04.260]I think Bryce, as you know, with a number
[00:15:07.000]of vocational agriculture programs growing across the state
[00:15:10.850]at a time when it's good to see that need
[00:15:12.930]for growth occurring.
[00:15:15.650]So, hats off to both the FFA Organization's
[00:15:19.280]and the 4H Organizations here in Nebraska
[00:15:21.890]Absolutely, UNL chancellor, Dr. Ronnie Green,
[00:15:24.330]joining us here with our weekly chat, with the GSR program.
[00:15:26.850]Dr. Green, appreciate your time today.
[00:15:29.630]Good to talk with you Bryce.
[00:15:30.750]I'm Bryce Doeschot, reporting on the Rural Radio Network.
Log in to post comments