KRVN Chat with the Chancellor
Ronnie Green talks about his recent announcement of his plans to retire as chancellor in 2023 and recalls when he first came to the university. Ronnie talks about the life and impact of John Klosterman and David Fitzgibbon.
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[00:00:00.390]Bryce Doeschot, on the Rural Radio Network
[00:00:02.400]with this week's Chat with the Chancellor program.
[00:00:04.440]This week we're checking in
[00:00:05.490]with the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
[00:00:07.080]Dr. Ronnie Green is joining us.
[00:00:08.490]Good morning, chancellor.
[00:00:09.323]Thanks for being here today.
[00:00:10.156]It's great to see you Bryce, as always.
[00:00:12.180]You made some news in late December
[00:00:14.130]right before the holidays announcing your retirement.
[00:00:16.470]Congratulations on that announcement.
[00:00:18.450]Yeah, it's a, you realize you have reached
[00:00:20.340]that stage in life where you're thinking about
[00:00:22.665]how long is too long
[00:00:24.420]and when's the next chapter supposed to start.
[00:00:26.700]And I've been thinking about that for some time
[00:00:29.280]really the last couple of years
[00:00:31.624]and had reached the decision some time ago
[00:00:34.590]that it was time for me to think about retiring
[00:00:37.546]and move into that next chapter.
[00:00:40.140]And things weren't exactly
[00:00:42.270]in the position where it was a good time to do that,
[00:00:45.200]in the time that we've been through in the pandemic
[00:00:47.553]and so forth.
[00:00:48.840]So I made the decision this is the right time
[00:00:52.770]now that we've kind of recovered from that
[00:00:54.900]and out of that picture,
[00:00:57.210]and so Jane and I are very much looking forward
[00:00:59.880]to here in the next year, making that transition.
[00:01:04.500]Well over the next several months
[00:01:05.910]as we do our Chat with the Chancellor program
[00:01:07.530]Dr. Green, we will be looking back on your time
[00:01:10.410]at the university.
[00:01:11.243]Going to do so a little bit here in a moment as well.
[00:01:12.966]I got the sense as I visited with people
[00:01:15.180]across the state of Nebraska
[00:01:16.350]they were surprised by your news to retire right now.
[00:01:18.600]Did you hear something similar from the folks
[00:01:20.790]you've visited with?
[00:01:21.623]Well, yes and no.
[00:01:23.130]I mean, people that know me well and that I worked with
[00:01:26.880]on a regular basis weren't terribly surprised.
[00:01:30.450]They knew that I'd been thinking bout it for some time
[00:01:33.540]yet I did get quite a few notes and calls and letters
[00:01:38.520]and contacts over the holidays saying, wow,
[00:01:41.072]didn't know you were thinking about that.
[00:01:43.140]And I think more because they, you know,
[00:01:46.830]it's not top of mind for people, number one,
[00:01:48.930]and then secondly, you know, I'm in my early sixties
[00:01:52.500]you know, the tradition has always been
[00:01:54.420]people think about 65 still as that magical retirement age.
[00:01:59.400]And so I got a lot of those kind of questions.
[00:02:01.650]What are you, you're too young to retire.
[00:02:03.612]Is this, you know, is something that's going on
[00:02:06.690]that you want to retire differently because of?
[00:02:09.030]And it, no, it is really not.
[00:02:10.410]It's just the right time for us and the right time
[00:02:13.980]to think about using our energy in a different way.
[00:02:17.160]And our family is growing.
[00:02:20.160]Our four children are establishing their own families now.
[00:02:24.676]And we just wanted to have more time to devote
[00:02:26.280]to our faith and our family.
[00:02:28.170]Well, take me back.
[00:02:29.160]You grew up in Virginia.
[00:02:31.170]How did you and the University of Nebraska
[00:02:33.150]first cross paths?
[00:02:34.680]Well, I came to Nebraska in 1985
[00:02:41.130]for the first time as a full-time resident.
[00:02:44.995]So a number of years ago, number of decades back,
[00:02:47.820]I came here originally to pursue a doctorate
[00:02:51.180]at the university in animal breeding and genetics,
[00:02:54.090]my field and background is in the beef cattle world
[00:02:56.820]as many of your listeners will know
[00:02:58.500]and spent the majority of my career in that field.
[00:03:03.023]And I came here to pursue a PhD in beef cattle genetics
[00:03:05.700]beef cattle breeding and genetics.
[00:03:07.830]And at the time, the animal science program here
[00:03:12.030]the USDA Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center
[00:03:15.090]tied to the animal science program was really the top place
[00:03:19.650]in the world to pursue a PhD in that field.
[00:03:23.040]Just the nucleus of people that were here at the time.
[00:03:27.930]I came here to study with a man named Gordon Dickerson
[00:03:30.990]who was still by many considered to be
[00:03:33.750]the leading scientist in the field for livestock
[00:03:37.590]for meat animal genetics in particular.
[00:03:40.710]And Gordon had come here to Nebraska
[00:03:42.770]at the end of his career in the early 1970s
[00:03:47.310]to join the new Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center
[00:03:50.640]that was stood up in the 1960s.
[00:03:53.430]And he was here on the campus in Lincoln,
[00:03:56.370]he was a USDA scientist,
[00:03:57.870]but he was in the animal science department at Lincoln
[00:04:00.150]so that he could work with grad students at the university
[00:04:04.770]with Clay Center.
[00:04:06.630]So I had the opportunity to come here
[00:04:08.610]and be Gordon's last PhD student before he retired.
[00:04:13.776]And actually during the time I was here,
[00:04:16.080]Gordon retired and it was a great privilege.
[00:04:19.650]It really was to be here at this great university
[00:04:23.640]to be able to study for my doctorate
[00:04:25.560]with bleeding people in the field.
[00:04:28.770]And so that's how I first came to Nebraska.
[00:04:32.790]And the rest is history, I guess you'll say.
[00:04:36.690]The university has been interwoven in our lives
[00:04:39.815]really ever since.
[00:04:42.390]You came back, I'm trying to think,
[00:04:44.790]did you come back as vice chancellor at the time
[00:04:47.220]that of IANR?
[00:04:48.420]I did. So when I finished graduate school
[00:04:52.590]in the late 1980s, I married here my wife Jane,
[00:04:56.460]many Nebraskans know Jane better than they know me, actually
[00:04:59.940]I think she knows pretty much everyone in the state
[00:05:02.370]it feels like most of the time.
[00:05:05.682]And Jane had grown up here, had done both of her degrees
[00:05:09.660]at UNL and in AG Honors and then AG economics
[00:05:13.770]and was an extension then, was 1980s.
[00:05:17.040]Many of your listeners will remember the farm crisis
[00:05:21.030]of the eighties and extension had stood up a program
[00:05:24.900]called Managing for Tomorrow as a financial management
[00:05:28.316]planning consultation with farm families
[00:05:31.740]and Jane was in that program in helping lead
[00:05:34.500]that program at the time.
[00:05:35.400]So when we left Nebraska, we went into academia,
[00:05:40.200]went to Texas Tech and was on faculty there
[00:05:42.840]in Colorado State on faculty there for a number of years.
[00:05:46.980]And then I left academia and went into private industry
[00:05:50.430]and government work for about a decade.
[00:05:53.610]But in 2010, I was recruited to come back to UNL
[00:05:59.610]to lead the AG programs as the vice Chancellor
[00:06:02.400]of the Institute of AG and Natural Resources.
[00:06:04.980]At the time I was an executive advisor
[00:06:08.070]in their animal health division that is now Zoetis,
[00:06:10.967]Zoetis Animal Health, helping to stand up and lead
[00:06:15.600]the development of their genomics business.
[00:06:18.750]They were interested in expanding into genomics at the time.
[00:06:21.300]So I left that position, came back to Lincoln in 2010
[00:06:26.610]to help lead IANR, which was a wonderful job.
[00:06:30.810]As you're reflecting back in time,
[00:06:33.480]I served in that role for about six years
[00:06:37.830]before transitioning into this role.
[00:06:40.950]And the time that I spent at IANR I will tell you
[00:06:43.800]was some of the best professional time in my life
[00:06:46.980]that I thoroughly enjoyed
[00:06:49.080]but came back at that time in 2010.
[00:06:52.020]I think, we'll pause the looking back and maybe
[00:06:54.600]spent an entire future chat with the chancellor,
[00:06:56.760]looking at your time at IANR and then another one
[00:06:58.364]as your time as chancellor, lot to unpack there, obviously.
[00:07:02.603]Before I let you go, the past couple of weeks
[00:07:04.090]looking back on the lives of a couple of Nebraskan,
[00:07:06.810]the first one, a man who have his name
[00:07:08.730]on the new Feedlot Innovation Center.
[00:07:10.560]What can you share with our listeners there?
[00:07:12.210]Well, there are Johns in every place,
[00:07:17.190]and Nebraska has its giants.
[00:07:19.560]And one of those giants was John Klosterman.
[00:07:23.190]John was a lifetime leader in agriculture
[00:07:26.970]and particularly in the feedlot industry in Nebraska,
[00:07:30.990]the Nebraska Feedlot Association in the early days,
[00:07:34.500]the stock growers, the early days.
[00:07:36.690]John was a leader of that.
[00:07:38.160]That's now part of Nebraska cattleman today.
[00:07:41.940]John passed away a couple of weeks ago
[00:07:44.910]after a long and very productive life
[00:07:47.333]from David City, the Klosterman family
[00:07:50.340]well known in in the circles in Nebraska.
[00:07:53.250]And John's celebration of life was just this past Sunday.
[00:07:56.250]Jane and I had the opportunity to be there
[00:07:58.230]with Beth and the family and just, we'll, miss John
[00:08:02.970]we were talking about IANR earlier.
[00:08:05.520]John was actually one of the key instrumental people
[00:08:09.180]in the early 1970s that was behind the leadership
[00:08:13.770]in the state that developed what is today
[00:08:16.200]the Institute of AG and Natural Resources
[00:08:18.540]and the structure and the frame for how that exists
[00:08:22.380]here at the University of Nebraska.
[00:08:23.850]Longtime leader in the AG builders of Nebraska.
[00:08:26.130]So sympathies to the Klosterman family on the loss of John,
[00:08:30.420]just a real giant in Nebraska agriculture.
[00:08:33.960]And then the university this week ago
[00:08:38.040]really suffered a tragic loss.
[00:08:42.360]One of our creative people in university communications,
[00:08:45.720]the lead for all of our videography work
[00:08:48.420]for the University of Nebraska Lincoln,
[00:08:50.370]had been that in that role for 25 years here at UNL.
[00:08:54.540]Many of the things that the public sees about UNL
[00:08:57.870]he created through video work
[00:09:01.350]and through our public service announcements
[00:09:03.510]and our ads and so forth.
[00:09:04.890]His name is David Fitzgibbon.
[00:09:07.050]Dave suffered a tragic accident,
[00:09:11.250]fell from a roof here in a home in Lincoln,
[00:09:15.090]suffered traumatic brain injury
[00:09:16.800]and we lost him a week ago.
[00:09:20.100]So having a celebration of his life this weekend
[00:09:25.178]and you know, just a big loss for the university.
[00:09:27.630]A big hole in the heart of many people
[00:09:29.640]for what Dave did here.
[00:09:32.340]He was just one of those people that did everything
[00:09:35.790]for everybody and he did it without very much,
[00:09:39.300]you know, he was a frugal guy that figured out a way to do
[00:09:43.080]a lot of things without much resource
[00:09:45.300]and we're just going to miss him.
[00:09:48.000]I'm sure the two of you shared a lot of memories together
[00:09:49.890]most recently filming that--
[00:09:51.083]We did, yeah,
[00:09:52.050]I mean he was the person who filmed the announcement
[00:09:55.410]of our retirement with Jane and I,
[00:09:57.630]was the last thing we did with Fitz,
[00:10:00.011]we referred to him as Fitz,
[00:10:03.810]in December just before the holidays.
[00:10:07.239]And he was just a real professional, real friend,
[00:10:10.230]and a really, just in his heart and soul was a believer
[00:10:15.510]in this great university.
[00:10:16.830]Yeah. There's a picture on the celebration of life
[00:10:19.560]that was posted from the university's perspective
[00:10:21.859]at the top of Love Library where you guys shot a film.
[00:10:26.356]Was that his idea or yours?
[00:10:27.189]Well, it was kind of both Dave, you know,
[00:10:30.096]Dave was, I mentioned the word creative.
[00:10:33.120]He was a creative genius in a lot of ways
[00:10:35.923]and early this year when we were getting ready to start
[00:10:41.040]fall semester and kick off the academic year,
[00:10:43.290]In fact, I think I visited with you
[00:10:45.150]early in that time period in the fall,
[00:10:47.760]about how excited we were to be back on campus
[00:10:50.670]for a normal year, for everything to feel back to normal,
[00:10:56.340]a hundred percent.
[00:10:57.660]And so one of the things we talked about was how
[00:10:59.910]to kick off that year for our university community,
[00:11:02.760]for all of our students and our faculty and our staff
[00:11:05.970]in a different perspective.
[00:11:07.350]So we came up with the idea of let's go up
[00:11:10.050]in the cupola of Love Library,
[00:11:12.390]film the welcome back to campus
[00:11:15.270]and that message for our community there.
[00:11:18.540]The cupola had been replaced last summer.
[00:11:20.490]We'd rebuilt that historic structure on the campus.
[00:11:23.730]And so David, Jane and I climbed up the ladders
[00:11:27.090]and the lattice to get up into the cupola
[00:11:29.730]and did videography work up there,
[00:11:32.370]be a memory that we remember with Fitz for a long time.
[00:11:35.160]Yeah, lots of memories with Fitz
[00:11:37.938]and some great Nebraskans that we're honoring
[00:11:39.240]and looking back on their lives here.
[00:11:40.920]That is the voice of the Chancellor
[00:11:41.753]of the University of Nebraska, Dr. Ronnie Green,
[00:11:43.980]our guest on this week's Chat with the Chancellor program.
[00:11:46.140]I'm Bryce Doeschot reporting here
[00:11:47.550]on the Rural Radio Network.
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