Ronnie Green talks about successful spring sports seasons, commencement in Memorial Stadium as the keynote speaker, UNL's tradition of student-athlete excellence in academics, and what he's looking forward to with fall sports.
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[00:00:00.150]Welcome back, inside our Huskers
[00:00:01.290]Radio Network Broadcasts Center.
[00:00:02.550]It's sponsored by AKRS,
[00:00:03.383]The Midwest's Premier John Deere Dealer,
[00:00:05.430]supplying the equipment and service
[00:00:07.470]to advance agriculture and much more acres
[00:00:10.080]solutions for every field.
[00:00:11.910]A real delight for us tonight
[00:00:13.500]to be joined by the chancellor
[00:00:14.430]of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Ronnie Green.
[00:00:16.200]Always great to have you in studio with us here.
[00:00:18.870]I know you just wrapped up the semester.
[00:00:21.570]We're wrapping up the spring sports season.
[00:00:23.850]It's kind of a busy time here on campus.
[00:00:25.320]It sure is.
[00:00:26.400]You know, and as we see the spring sports season
[00:00:29.700]come to a close for our teams, you know,
[00:00:32.070]with baseball going into the Big Ten tournament,
[00:00:34.560]our softball having qualified for the NCAA
[00:00:37.590]after a great year for our women's softball team.
[00:00:39.990]Track and field, knocking it out of the park
[00:00:42.570]with a big win at the Big Ten tournament
[00:00:44.910]for our men's track and field team,
[00:00:46.860]and our women place in third in the tournament
[00:00:49.230]off to the NCAAs in early June in Austin.
[00:00:52.995]So just really excited for them
[00:00:55.350]to be ranked sixth in the country
[00:00:57.990]in our track and field team.
[00:01:00.060]We've had a lot of success in the past in track and field,
[00:01:02.550]but you know, this is the first time in few years
[00:01:04.740]that we've been at this pinnacle for track and field.
[00:01:08.100]So just excited.
[00:01:09.600]It's kind of a fun time to see the N being worn, right?
[00:01:13.420]And we're looking forward to a big week
[00:01:15.090]in the Big Ten tournament in baseball
[00:01:16.800]up the road here in Omaha.
[00:01:18.360]Seven years since the track team
[00:01:19.860]won the conference championships.
[00:01:21.420]That was fantastic.
[00:01:22.680]Huge weekend commencement at Memorial Stadium
[00:01:25.650]and you were the keynote speaker.
[00:01:27.240]Let's start with that.
[00:01:28.260]What did that mean to you,
[00:01:29.970]to make that speech presiding over the ceremony
[00:01:32.640]for the last time?
[00:01:33.630]Well, you know, it was my 21st commencement
[00:01:36.630]as the UNL Chancellor.
[00:01:38.070]And nearly 40,000 graduates over those last seven years.
[00:01:42.750]And being able to experience that
[00:01:44.610]with our graduates and with their families
[00:01:46.710]is certainly a high point of the year.
[00:01:49.080]For me it has been every time, right?
[00:01:51.930]And over the last 13 years
[00:01:54.000]that I've been back at the university,
[00:01:55.493]I think I counted it up before commencement.
[00:01:57.900]I've done 31 commencements.
[00:02:00.300]In the time I've been here at UNL,
[00:02:02.820]every one of them, especially this one
[00:02:04.650]was particularly special for a couple of reasons.
[00:02:08.220]One is that it was our fourth record graduating class
[00:02:13.110]in the last six years
[00:02:15.450]for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:02:17.340]And it's just...
[00:02:18.510]I can't begin to describe how awesome that is,
[00:02:22.500]given the time period that we've been through
[00:02:25.020]and given the time that these students
[00:02:27.570]were students at the University of Nebraska, right.
[00:02:30.120]They came in the fall of 2019 as freshman.
[00:02:34.170]For our undergraduates,
[00:02:36.450]I talked about them brimming with hope
[00:02:38.550]and watching them run into the stadium as freshman,
[00:02:41.550]informed they're in,
[00:02:43.140]in August of 2019.
[00:02:47.070]And then, you know, the world changed
[00:02:48.660]with the last several years in so many different ways.
[00:02:51.600]And they continued to excel,
[00:02:53.753]they came through and graduated
[00:02:55.830]at one of our highest rates ever.
[00:02:58.140]So I just feel it as a immensely proud moment for them
[00:03:02.760]and for their families across the board.
[00:03:05.610]And it was one of those surreal moments,
[00:03:08.820]I'll remember in my life too, right,
[00:03:10.800]as I go off into the sunset and the next year of our life
[00:03:14.484]to have the opportunity to speak to them
[00:03:18.360]as a commencement speaker.
[00:03:20.010]You know, that's something I would've never dreamed
[00:03:22.080]of having the opportunity to do,
[00:03:23.790]and felt so honored to be asked to do.
[00:03:26.640]For both our undergraduates and graduates students
[00:03:31.140]that graduated the day before.
[00:03:33.690]So just a real moment.
[00:03:35.340]And then added to that,
[00:03:37.410]we honored some real...
[00:03:39.060]You know, stalwart people as part of the ceremony as well.
[00:03:42.756]Former governor, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska Senator,
[00:03:46.560]US Senator Kerrey,
[00:03:48.255]honored with an honorary doctorate
[00:03:50.703]in the commencement ceremony.
[00:03:52.345]I've gotten to be very good friends with Bob over the years
[00:03:55.350]and it was just great to honor him
[00:03:58.620]for his service to our country and to our state.
[00:04:02.460]Joanne Martin, who was the CEO of Emeritus
[00:04:06.240]and a stalwart business leader.
[00:04:08.190]One of our most accomplished alumni of the university,
[00:04:12.625]who we lost here a few years ago.
[00:04:15.540]Now after her retirement as CEO of Emeritus,
[00:04:18.300]I honored her with the Builder Award for the university
[00:04:22.260]and honored her family as well.
[00:04:25.680]So just super tremendous, wonderful day in Memorial Stadium
[00:04:30.930]and with our graduates
[00:04:33.120]for this particular commencement exercise.
[00:04:36.660]Congratulations to all the graduates.
[00:04:38.250]Side note, Joanne was a huge Husker volleyball fan.
[00:04:41.040]She indeed was.
[00:04:42.344]All across the board, but volleyball in particular.
[00:04:46.620]You have certainly seen a lot of change
[00:04:48.180]in college athletics in your time
[00:04:50.010]just as chancellor here at UNL,
[00:04:52.200]and there's always been such a strong commitment
[00:04:54.600]from the university for the student athletes.
[00:04:57.780]Tell us why that's important here in Nebraska.
[00:05:00.750]Well, you know, we have a real legacy here.
[00:05:03.150]Everyone knows that.
[00:05:04.320]Nebraska is kind of the pinnacle
[00:05:05.944]of what it means to be a student athlete nationally.
[00:05:09.540]And that's a reputation and a pinnacle
[00:05:13.920]that we take very seriously here as an institution.
[00:05:17.730]And you know, there is a lot of change that is occurring
[00:05:22.410]in intercollegiate athletics.
[00:05:24.120]You know, as we speak with name image and likeness
[00:05:27.870]that's been implemented now for student athletes.
[00:05:31.290]A lot of change in the way
[00:05:32.730]that the transfer board happens.
[00:05:34.530]I'm sure that that hasn't been discussed
[00:05:36.240]on sports nightly at all.
[00:05:37.252]You know, Greg but it's...
[00:05:40.290]You know, those changes are occurring
[00:05:41.970]but we're so well positioned here in Nebraska
[00:05:44.820]to be a leader in those arenas as well.
[00:05:49.140]And then as student athletes,
[00:05:52.380]you know, this institution and what its history is,
[00:05:56.880]in the way our student athletes are supported
[00:05:59.130]and succeed here as students.
[00:06:02.010]I know that number of 349 academic all Americans
[00:06:05.835]that's in Memorial Stadium
[00:06:08.760]is a real and profound thing that we continue to add
[00:06:14.100]academic all Americans.
[00:06:15.480]Even in this last year, we've added more.
[00:06:18.240]Academic all Americans and that leading national total
[00:06:21.960]that we have by a mile really.
[00:06:24.570]And in intercollegiate athletics,
[00:06:27.450]the fact that this last year,
[00:06:30.213]our student athletes and our graduation success rate
[00:06:34.290]of our student athletes was the highest it has ever been
[00:06:38.280]in the institution's history.
[00:06:40.380]And that we were second amongst all public institutions
[00:06:44.070]of higher education in our graduation
[00:06:46.710]success rate nationally,
[00:06:48.914]just speaks volumes about the quality of the experience here
[00:06:54.480]for our student athletes
[00:06:55.860]and how much we value that and treasure that here as well.
[00:07:00.525]I don't think I've had the opportunity to visit with you
[00:07:03.480]since the night at the lead that we had here in late April.
[00:07:06.840]That's an annual event that honors our student athletes
[00:07:09.930]and that honors their academic success, their service,
[00:07:13.800]and leadership success on campus.
[00:07:16.320]I'll tell you, you just sit there and you marvel
[00:07:19.170]at what these students do
[00:07:22.050]and how successful they are in doing it.
[00:07:24.750]There is just no other place like it
[00:07:26.940]than this institution here.
[00:07:30.354]So, again, a real pride point for me
[00:07:34.016]as I look back on these last years.
[00:07:36.840]Well, you announced in December
[00:07:38.100]that you would would be stepping down as chancellor here
[00:07:40.590]this summer about a month left to go.
[00:07:43.050]But I have a feeling you're still gonna be
[00:07:44.850]following those Huskers in the fall.
[00:07:46.470]You and Jane are gonna be following those Husks.
[00:07:48.174]What's exciting for you as you think through the fall?
[00:07:50.471]Well, you know, it's all exciting, right?
[00:07:51.900]So my standard line has been...
[00:07:55.950]You will continue to see Jane and I at university events,
[00:07:59.760]that won't change,
[00:08:00.840]and will continue to be the strongest supporters
[00:08:03.090]from the sidelines and the seats of the university
[00:08:05.640]and the athletic programs, and the university broadly.
[00:08:08.850]Certainly, but, you know,
[00:08:10.530]a lot of excitement coming up in the year ahead
[00:08:13.200]in our athletics programs
[00:08:14.610]and a lot of changes that we're expecting to see
[00:08:16.530]in our athletic programs, you know the...
[00:08:19.462]Lot of focus on football obviously,
[00:08:22.155]and what that's going to look like this fall
[00:08:24.930]under the new coaching leadership
[00:08:26.670]and how Matt has come in with his team
[00:08:29.490]and has just a lot of hope there
[00:08:32.700]for what we're going to see in that team.
[00:08:35.520]Jane and I have tremendously enjoyed
[00:08:37.200]getting to know Matt personally
[00:08:40.085]and have been working closely with him too,
[00:08:42.595]he's just a quality human being.
[00:08:44.940]There's just no way other to describe it than that.
[00:08:49.710]The whole volleyball deal, you know,
[00:08:52.200]having that record break in the way
[00:08:55.170]that it's going to break is going to be a world event,
[00:08:58.920]so to speak, no doubt about that.
[00:09:01.170]I have joked...
[00:09:03.333]I remember Trev actually saying this,
[00:09:06.300]the day that we had the press announcement
[00:09:08.400]about the volleyball...
[00:09:09.480]The plan for the volleyball event
[00:09:11.790]in Memorial Stadium in August.
[00:09:14.190]And he made some comment to the effect of,
[00:09:16.530]I got in a little trouble with Chancellor's wife
[00:09:18.750]because the chancellor's wife is not very happy
[00:09:20.730]with the chancellor when she found out about this event
[00:09:23.970]'cause they were gonna be out of the country.
[00:09:26.910]And that's true.
[00:09:27.900]But as I described to Husker Jane,
[00:09:31.080]I said, "Jane, you know, we're gonna be in Italy
[00:09:33.750]but they eat dinner about 10:00 at night."
[00:09:35.760]And so we'll just be having our glass of wine watching it,
[00:09:40.650]you know, live, you know, little at night.
[00:09:43.737]But just a lot to look forward to,
[00:09:46.500]here and the time ahead
[00:09:47.970]and as the "Go Big" project opens here later this fall,
[00:09:53.790]and seeing that happen, you know, as I walked through that
[00:09:59.520]with the construction folks just there a couple of weeks ago
[00:10:03.630]and seeing the reality of what that's going to be like
[00:10:07.290]and do for the program,
[00:10:09.159]it's just an exciting time that is ahead.
[00:10:12.360]Well, I've certainly enjoyed our chats.
[00:10:13.980]Gonna miss seeing you around.
[00:10:15.270]Don't be a stranger, please don't be a stranger.
[00:10:17.370]Oh, we sure won't.
[00:10:18.600]You know that won't be the case
[00:10:20.460]and we're just looking forward to being part
[00:10:24.120]of Husker Nation.
[00:10:24.953]Enjoy the next phase of your life.
[00:10:26.190]You've earned it.
[00:10:27.150]You've been great.
[00:10:27.990]Ronnie Green with us here on Sports Center.
[00:10:29.610]We're back with more coming up next.
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