KRVN Chat with the Chancellor
Ronnie Green talks about receiving his second COVID-19 vaccination shot. Green also talks about plans for in-person May commencement in Memorial Stadium and plans to invite all who could not attend an in-person commencement during the pandemic to participate in the August 2021 commencement ceremonies. Green also talks about plans for fall semester.
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[00:00:00.350]Bryce Doeschot with a Rural Radio Network
[00:00:02.220]and our weekly chat with the chancellor program.
[00:00:04.220]This week, we are joined by the chancellor
[00:00:05.720]of the university of Nebraska Lincoln,
[00:00:07.120]Dr. Ronnie Green. Now Dr. Green,
[00:00:08.723]I happened to see on social media, earlier this week,
[00:00:11.390]that you did receive your COVID-19 vaccination.
[00:00:14.000]That's going to be a pretty good feeling getting things back
[00:00:16.410]in at least a step in the right direction, right?
[00:00:19.120]It sure is great to have one.
[00:00:21.459]I was very pleased to be able to have my turn
[00:00:24.060]in the vaccination process and be able to get my second shot
[00:00:28.400]on Monday this past week, and be clear of that, that
[00:00:33.020]and have that extra protection in place now for me,
[00:00:37.193]personally, but just I was so impressed, you know,
[00:00:38.950]through the whole process of the way that both
[00:00:42.660]the vaccine delivery has happened.
[00:00:44.720]You know, it's pretty, it's pretty warp speed, I guess
[00:00:48.370]is the term I would use to describe how fast
[00:00:51.910]these vaccines really were developed
[00:00:54.110]from the onset of, of a virus we weren't even dealing with
[00:00:58.980]just a little over a year ago and to have now three vaccines
[00:01:04.305]with high levels of efficacy in place,
[00:01:07.140]the science that has gone into developing those,
[00:01:09.470]on my hats off to the scientists and the companies
[00:01:13.010]that have brought those two to the marketplace
[00:01:16.100]and really good feeling to be in that place now
[00:01:20.840]and see so many of our people being able to
[00:01:24.131]receive vaccination protections.
[00:01:26.750]Let's talk about kind of returning back to normal.
[00:01:29.060]If I'm not mistaken, Chancellor Green,
[00:01:31.050]it was December of 2019.
[00:01:32.710]That was the last time commencement ceremonies were held
[00:01:35.430]in person and coming up in May of this year,
[00:01:38.270]you are going to return to in-person
[00:01:40.010]commencement ceremonies, so talk to me about what
[00:01:42.040]that's going to look like.
[00:01:43.610]Well, we're really pleased Bryce, that,
[00:01:46.225]as you said, since the last time
[00:01:48.720]we were able to have actually
[00:01:50.230]our full in-person commencement exercises was
[00:01:53.790]before the pandemic and December of 2019.
[00:01:56.830]And so, in the past three ceremonies that we've had
[00:02:00.990]in May of 2020, in August of last year, and then again
[00:02:04.580]in December of 2020, we celebrated with our graduates.
[00:02:08.970]We conferred their degrees, but we did it
[00:02:12.010]in a celebration kind of a way, virtually, with them.
[00:02:16.650]So to be back at a point
[00:02:18.400]where we can have in-person commencement
[00:02:20.620]that we're now planning for may exercise, a great
[00:02:24.310]great place to be, and a great feeling, to have.
[00:02:28.228]We are changing our format a little bit
[00:02:30.370]in a very exciting way, for our May commencement.
[00:02:33.950]Our graduate ceremony,
[00:02:36.442]our hooding of our doctoral candidates,
[00:02:39.240]new PhDs and our master's degree recipients will have
[00:02:43.970]their traditional graduate ceremony on Friday, May the 7th
[00:02:49.560]at Pinnacle Bank Arena, so that will feel normal to everyone
[00:02:54.170]and have attendees and family that are with them
[00:02:57.200]for those ceremonies.
[00:02:58.730]Our commencement will also be on Friday afternoon
[00:03:02.619]for our new JDS, who are receiving
[00:03:04.499]their degrees from Nebraska Law,
[00:03:06.632]also with Pinnacle Bank Arena.
[00:03:08.892]But on Saturday, for our undergraduates
[00:03:11.400]we will have something over 3,500 of our undergraduates
[00:03:15.060]graduating on Saturday, May the 8th.
[00:03:18.750]We're going to, for the first time in our history,
[00:03:21.610]have our commencement exercises in Memorial Stadium
[00:03:24.589]and on the field of Memorial Stadium.
[00:03:28.270]So we're excited about that. We'll have two ceremonies.
[00:03:32.790]Half of our colleges and graduates from those colleges
[00:03:37.020]will be in a morning ceremony on Saturday
[00:03:39.510]and the other half in an afternoon ceremony
[00:03:43.123]will allow us to do that safely
[00:03:45.640]and under social distancing protocols
[00:03:47.660]to have the graduates on the field with us.
[00:03:51.070]So we're, we're really excited about that.
[00:03:54.010]We also, are very pleased that it will
[00:03:56.840]give us the opportunity for our commencement speaker to be
[00:04:00.597]to be iconic with that setting.
[00:04:04.850]And we're very pleased
[00:04:07.097]that coach Tom Osbourne will be our commencement speaker
[00:04:12.247]for our graduates in both of those ceremonies on
[00:04:13.860]on Saturday, May the 8th.
[00:04:15.220]So we're, we're really excited about that.
[00:04:17.850]I know our graduates are looking forward to it.
[00:04:20.010]It's been a little bit of a question to them even,
[00:04:24.177]through this part of the pandemic that we've been in,
[00:04:26.970]this winter and spring, whether we would be able
[00:04:30.510]to have in-person ceremony.
[00:04:32.851]So it's really great to be in that position.
[00:04:34.720]And I'm just really excited
[00:04:36.720]about this new way of doing it, in Memorial Stadium and
[00:04:41.650]kind of hopeful that that will become our tradition.
[00:04:45.410]And that we'll go to having our
[00:04:48.130]undergraduate commencement every spring in Memorial Stadium
[00:04:54.320]in that way.
[00:04:56.714]A great opportunity for those students,
[00:04:58.850]Chancellor Green, I want to ask you this,
[00:04:59.801]are you also are thinking about those students
[00:05:01.100]who didn't have the opportunity to be
[00:05:02.940]in person for their celebration
[00:05:05.150]didn't have to be at a virtual commencement,
[00:05:07.610]are they going to have an opportunity in the future,
[00:05:09.440]to come back and perhaps have that in-person celebration?
[00:05:14.180]They are Bryce.
[00:05:15.330]We had had talked with our students of course,
[00:05:20.010]through the course of the last year
[00:05:22.730]when they weren't able to have their typical
[00:05:25.510]commencement exercises and celebrate in that way
[00:05:28.410]with their families.
[00:05:30.070]We actually have a UNL has one of the highest levels
[00:05:34.220]of participation in person of commencement
[00:05:36.910]of any of the universities in the country.
[00:05:38.880]It's a big part of our tradition
[00:05:41.300]where our graduates actually received their actual diploma
[00:05:46.380]in that commencement exercise.
[00:05:48.030]We're one of very few places in the country,
[00:05:50.970]in the world, that do that.
[00:05:53.400]So, it is important to us as part of our culture
[00:05:57.370]and our tradition and with our students
[00:05:58.927]and their families and loved ones.
[00:06:01.180]So in the course of the three commencements
[00:06:05.030]that we weren't able to have in person this past year,
[00:06:07.530]we had said to our students that we would invite them back
[00:06:12.100]to be part of any future commencement
[00:06:14.850]and to recognize them specifically
[00:06:17.030]as graduates of the class of 2020,
[00:06:19.800]but we also were planning to have a special event for them,
[00:06:24.310]in August, to have a special commencement exercise
[00:06:27.750]where we invite back in, our students to
[00:06:32.220]be able to have a special ceremony in August.
[00:06:34.990]So, details on that are be becoming forward,
[00:06:37.020]it'd be in the second week of August,
[00:06:39.540]around the same time that we have our August commencement
[00:06:43.096]be in parallel with that, so that we have an opportunity to
[00:06:47.750]really celebrate what that big class we had in 2020,
[00:06:51.230]about 5,700 students graduated from UNL
[00:06:54.980]during that 2020 class year.
[00:06:56.940]So looking forward to that as well.
[00:07:00.412]Well, let's turn the focus of this conversation now
[00:07:01.500]to the fall of 2021.
[00:07:03.210]I know you and your team and working to be as
[00:07:05.410]close to pre-pandemic activity levels as possible.
[00:07:09.410]I know folks of course would love to be back
[00:07:11.720]in Memorial Stadium, watching some football,
[00:07:13.970]but in addition to the fans in the stands,
[00:07:16.140]how else do you envision today,
[00:07:17.830]that the fall of 2021 will look for students?
[00:07:20.590]Well, Bryce, we're anticipating that
[00:07:22.480]our fall will be close to normal in most ways,
[00:07:26.760]or the way we would think about a typical academic year
[00:07:29.700]kicking off for the fall semester
[00:07:32.170]in August for our students.
[00:07:33.590]We'll be back on our regular schedule again, you know
[00:07:36.086]people might remember that last year
[00:07:39.640]we modified our fall schedule.
[00:07:41.230]We started actually a week earlier.
[00:07:43.030]We did so remotely for a week to let people move in
[00:07:46.180]before we went to as many of our classes in person
[00:07:50.010]as we could have, the remainder of the semester,
[00:07:53.010]no fall break and then we finished at Thanksgiving,
[00:07:56.030]with exams the week of Thanksgiving to minimize travel back
[00:07:59.689]and forth between Thanksgiving and Christmas
[00:08:03.140]at the start of spring semester.
[00:08:05.090]Well, so we'll be back to our normal schedule.
[00:08:07.050]We'll start at a normal time in August,
[00:08:10.768]and go through a regular academic term in the fall.
[00:08:13.480]So we're looking forward to that,
[00:08:15.300]being back on our normal calendar,
[00:08:17.250]our classes we'll be back in person,
[00:08:20.360]almost exclusively, we think we will be 100% back.
[00:08:26.906]We're still waiting on seeing exactly what
[00:08:30.410]the health guidance will look like
[00:08:32.867]for our very largest classes,
[00:08:34.300]where we have less opportunity to socially distance,
[00:08:38.140]but based on what we're seeing and based on
[00:08:40.600]what we think will be in the situation for in the fall,
[00:08:44.740]we think we will have those fully in person, as well.
[00:08:48.970]So very, very much looking forward
[00:08:50.710]to being back on campus, being back into a case where
[00:08:54.830]Zoom classes are a rarity.
[00:08:57.591]It worked well for us, but we're very, very eager to be back
[00:09:02.422]to a regular semester.
[00:09:05.810]I'm very pleased and proud of the fact that,
[00:09:09.230]we have been amongst the very few institutions in the U.S.
[00:09:13.680]in the level of community and in-person activities
[00:09:18.080]that we have had during the pandemic this past year.
[00:09:22.940]And while it has changed the way that we have operated
[00:09:28.030]on campus, in terms of distancing,
[00:09:31.369]and social protection for our community,
[00:09:34.170]we have been the most in-person university in the country.
[00:09:37.530]So we've been very pleased about that.
[00:09:39.520]I'm very proud of our team and of our students
[00:09:41.465]for being able to achieve that.
[00:09:43.870]We've led the big 10, in that regard.
[00:09:47.700]And it's allowed us to continue meeting our mission.
[00:09:51.630]This past year, a kind of remarkable statistic for me,
[00:09:55.910]is that this past year we achieved our highest six
[00:09:59.120]year graduation rate, in decades at UNL.
[00:10:04.980]It went up almost 2%.
[00:10:06.928]So a big increase in our six year graduation rate.
[00:10:11.010]And as I mentioned earlier,
[00:10:12.640]in talking about looking forward to commencement,
[00:10:14.760]there's some likelihood we think,
[00:10:17.314]we won't know till the numbers are finally in with students
[00:10:19.860]finishing the spring semester,
[00:10:22.100]but it's somewhat likely we're going to have
[00:10:25.350]a record graduating class in May, as well.
[00:10:28.620]We thought our record would stand up two years ago
[00:10:31.740]would be our peak but the pandemic has actually been
[00:10:35.277]a time period that students have been able to achieve
[00:10:38.920]more coursework and we think,
[00:10:40.630]complete more of their coursework during this period,
[00:10:44.219]kind of shut down for a lot of folks.
[00:10:48.680]So we were very pleased about that as well.
[00:10:52.040]But certainly looking forward to being back in full,
[00:10:55.840]in the fall, we anticipate that most of our community,
[00:11:01.060]if not all of our community,
[00:11:03.030]will have had the opportunity to receive vaccination
[00:11:06.410]for COVID-19 prior to the beginning of the semester.
[00:11:10.290]In fact, it's looking like that many of our students
[00:11:13.450]actually will have had that opportunity
[00:11:15.410]prior to leaving campus,
[00:11:17.580]our current students leaving campus this spring.
[00:11:21.440]So pleased about that as well.
[00:11:24.280]And looking forward to a really exciting fall ahead.
[00:11:28.200]Absolutely. UNL chancellor, Dr. Ronnie Green,
[00:11:32.118]joining us on the weekly chat with the chancellor program.
[00:11:34.022]Dr. Green, appreciate your time as always!
[00:11:36.095]You bet! Looking forward to a great time ahead
[00:11:38.535]looking forward to our graduates,
[00:11:39.800]and looking forward to a great year in 2021, 2022
[00:11:44.385]Very good. I'm Bryce Doeschot
[00:11:45.218]reporting on the Rural Radio Network.
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