KRVN Chat with the Chancellor
Ronnie Green discusses the university's announcement regarding potential reductions in response to proposed budget cuts from the governor and the potential impact on rural Nebraska. He also talks about the "NU Advocacy Day" held in early March in which faculty, staff, and students from across the university system volunteered their time to come to the Unicameral to meet with Nebraska senators.
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[00:00:00.150]Brandon Benitz with the Rural Radio Network,
[00:00:02.260]and our special guest this week in our
[00:00:03.770]Chat with the Chancellor Series,
[00:00:05.060]here in the Spring 2018 semester.
[00:00:07.270]This week we're joined by Dr. Ronnie Green,
[00:00:09.130]the Chancellor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
[00:00:11.430]Dr. Green, it's been awhile since we've talked,
[00:00:13.400]and in that interim the University announced
[00:00:15.200]potential reductions in response to
[00:00:16.920]proposed budget cuts from the Governor.
[00:00:18.650]And for the Lincoln campus,
[00:00:19.770]that cut would be five million dollars
[00:00:21.800]in the current budget year,
[00:00:22.780]and would result in closing a number of degree
[00:00:25.060]and certification programs.
[00:00:26.790]Can you give us a review of your message
[00:00:30.160]to the campus regarding these cuts
[00:00:31.740]and the why behind the specific
[00:00:34.110]proposed program eliminations?
[00:00:36.270]Well Brandon, you know, the state of course as we know
[00:00:39.038]is grappling with some fiscal constraints
[00:00:42.000]around down revenues over the last year,
[00:00:44.570]year and a half period of time,
[00:00:46.070]in the current year we're in and then moving forward,
[00:00:49.230]July 1st, having a four percent permanent cut
[00:00:52.190]in our appropriation from the state
[00:00:54.390]and for the UNL campus what that means for us,
[00:00:58.300]is a five million dollar roughly return
[00:01:01.020]out of our budget this year that we're in,
[00:01:03.470]and then it would have resulted in about
[00:01:05.840]11 and a half million dollar permanent cut
[00:01:09.166]for UNL moving forward starting July 1st.
[00:01:11.580]So in preparation for discussion with the state
[00:01:14.720]and with the Appropriations Committee
[00:01:16.250]at the legislature in February,
[00:01:18.320]we were asked to come up with how we would address that,
[00:01:22.690]and how UNL for example would address that kind of
[00:01:25.880]11 and a half million ongoing cut to our budget.
[00:01:29.400]And a number of programs were proposed
[00:01:32.150]for how we would address that.
[00:01:34.260]So we, in our case, we put forward about three million
[00:01:37.390]out of that 11 million dollar total that we would have,
[00:01:40.505]as examples of impacts that would have when we met
[00:01:44.740]with the Appropriations Committee in mid February,
[00:01:48.142]of things like all of the degree programs in geography.
[00:01:50.880]The Bachelors, Masters, and PhD programs
[00:01:53.430]in geography for UNL, the degree programs at the Bachelors
[00:01:58.890]and Masters level in art history,
[00:02:01.130]some certification programs in the College of Education,
[00:02:04.130]and human sciences for K 12,
[00:02:06.560]certification in business teaching
[00:02:09.570]and in marketing teaching,
[00:02:11.100]as well as in a couple of foreign language areas,
[00:02:14.220]as well as in electronic engineering,
[00:02:16.500]BS degree program elimination in the College of Engineering.
[00:02:20.810]And then also in the ag side,
[00:02:23.420]in the Institute of Ag and Natural Resources,
[00:02:26.270]one of our out State Research and Extension Centers,
[00:02:29.100]we have these spread throughout the state.
[00:02:31.670]The one that's located in northeast Nebraska
[00:02:34.650]near Norfolk and Haskell Concord area in northeast Nebraska,
[00:02:39.100]that that location would be closed
[00:02:41.840]to address the budget deficit.
[00:02:45.100]And then a significant reduction in the budget for
[00:02:48.510]the Rural Futures Institute that
[00:02:50.240]is across the university system,
[00:02:52.640]housed at UNL in the Institute of Ag and Natural Resources.
[00:02:56.410]So that was a list of proposed potential cuts
[00:02:59.880]that would be made on the Lincoln campus.
[00:03:02.480]And as I said, that was only about a quarter
[00:03:05.450]of what we would end up having to do
[00:03:07.200]if that full four percent budget cut were enacted
[00:03:10.580]moving forward July 1st.
[00:03:12.412]Now fortunately, since the Appropriations Committee hearing
[00:03:16.530]was held on Valentine's Day,
[00:03:18.520]they have put forward their proposal,
[00:03:20.587]the Appropriations Committee is recommending
[00:03:23.110]to the full legislator that that cut for the University
[00:03:26.990]be the two percent this year, the five million for UNL
[00:03:31.100]that I mentioned earlier that we would return
[00:03:33.900]from our budget this year,
[00:03:35.289]but only one percent rather than a four percent cut,
[00:03:39.300]permanently moving forward July 1st,
[00:03:41.650]and that's a big big difference as you can imagine.
[00:03:44.820]So for UNL that takes that number
[00:03:47.410]from 11 and a half million dollars
[00:03:49.372]to something less than three million,
[00:03:51.490]that we would be reducing moving forward.
[00:03:54.900]but much more manageable for us to address.
[00:03:58.009]So we'll see what the legislature does,
[00:04:00.090]and then of course it'll go to Governor Ricketts,
[00:04:02.180]and he'll have to agree with the passage of the bill
[00:04:05.210]and then implement it.
[00:04:06.210]So that's kinda where we are.
[00:04:07.541]Dr. Green, in addition to those degree
[00:04:10.030]and certification programs and the proposed closing
[00:04:13.080]of the Haskell Agricultural Laboratory
[00:04:14.870]and the deep cut to the Rural Futures Institute and more,
[00:04:17.800]what do you foresee the impact being to Rural Nebraska,
[00:04:21.404]with the closing of the Haskell Laboratory,
[00:04:23.880]the cuts to RFI, and things like that?
[00:04:26.610]You know Brandon, I think a lot of your listeners
[00:04:28.930]will remember that, you know, I served in the role of being
[00:04:31.780]Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Ag
[00:04:33.460]and Natural Resources for the University for about six years
[00:04:37.230]before I became the chancellor of the Lincoln campus,
[00:04:40.050]and so I have a very deep appreciation
[00:04:41.767]and understanding of the impact of INR
[00:04:45.380]and the programs in ag across the state.
[00:04:48.520]You know, we're a statewide campus,
[00:04:50.520]UNL is the land grant university campus,
[00:04:53.310]and the flagship campus for the system.
[00:04:56.810]You know, we have that presence across the state,
[00:04:59.450]heavily tied to agriculture, but not exclusively,
[00:05:02.120]so our extension programs work across the board
[00:05:04.523]in essentially all areas.
[00:05:06.750]But that network of research and extension centers
[00:05:09.661]that we've been fortunate to have
[00:05:11.900]and be resourced by in Nebraska
[00:05:14.150]is critically important to agriculture
[00:05:16.620]and to production agriculture particularly in the state.
[00:05:19.720]You know, I talked for all the years I was in INR
[00:05:23.040]about the fact that we have more agro ecological zones,
[00:05:26.640]if you go from the Missouri river on the east border
[00:05:29.300]of Nebraska out to Scottsbluff and the Panhandle,
[00:05:32.651]and the border with Wyoming,
[00:05:34.410]what you basically cross six different agro ecological zones
[00:05:38.460]as you traverse across the state.
[00:05:40.190]It's very diverse, as we know.
[00:05:42.480]And that research that is local,
[00:05:44.810]that is within those zones,
[00:05:47.090]is critically important to our producers across the state.
[00:05:50.560]So northeast, this Haskell ag lamp that is
[00:05:54.430]near Norfolk was the research center that was put there
[00:05:57.780]within the Institute of Ag and Natural Resources
[00:06:00.300]well back in the 1920's.
[00:06:02.420]It actually is a little bit unique
[00:06:04.980]amongst our regional research centers
[00:06:07.210]because it's land that was donated by a family.
[00:06:10.790]A 320 acre piece of ground
[00:06:13.440]that was donated by the Haskell family,
[00:06:15.950]that put that into the system for use and production
[00:06:19.470]ag research important and relevant to northeast Nebraska.
[00:06:22.554]If we end up having to close that center,
[00:06:26.140]that will be a loss, no doubt.
[00:06:28.240]Particularly producers in that region of the state,
[00:06:31.540]so absolutely it will have an impact,
[00:06:33.660]but it will be the minimal impact
[00:06:36.311]of any of the stations that we could close
[00:06:38.860]as we look around the state,
[00:06:40.550]and serving all the needs across all
[00:06:42.550]of the different zones of the state.
[00:06:44.340]Rural Futures you mentioned,
[00:06:46.040]that's an effort that is around rural
[00:06:48.090]revitalization across the state,
[00:06:50.220]it actually was enhanced about six years ago,
[00:06:54.850]I was part of that effort to rebrand and relaunch
[00:06:58.940]what was formally called the Rural Initiative
[00:07:01.650]for the University and to the Rural Futures Institute,
[00:07:04.760]we launched it in 2012 at that level,
[00:07:07.490]with considerably more funding.
[00:07:09.170]We put a couple million dollars more funding in that effort
[00:07:12.530]toward the Rural Futures Institute
[00:07:14.420]over that period of a couple of years after 2012.
[00:07:17.970]And that's been a successful effort,
[00:07:20.610]so a loss of funding there also is important.
[00:07:23.670]The Rural Futures Institute won't go away,
[00:07:26.043]it's not a closure of the Rural Futures Institute,
[00:07:29.180]but it is a significant trimming back
[00:07:30.923]of what we'll be able to invest
[00:07:32.980]in that effort moving forward,
[00:07:34.840]primarily in terms of grants that we have had
[00:07:37.861]as part of that program over the last five or six years
[00:07:42.220]that are grants of University faculty
[00:07:44.715]across the four campuses of the University,
[00:07:47.740]working with rural communities on various efforts.
[00:07:51.340]And we will lose that funding,
[00:07:53.178]basically from being able to sponsor that kind of work
[00:07:56.760]moving forward as that reduction
[00:07:58.812]for the Rural Future Institutes.
[00:08:00.900]So these are, I think your listeners can understand,
[00:08:03.590]these are really hard decisions,
[00:08:05.950]we don't take any of them lightly
[00:08:07.790]because we would like to do all of these things and more,
[00:08:10.580]but we also realize that you have decisions you have to make
[00:08:14.870]related to what your revenue sources are,
[00:08:17.410]just like any other business that your listeners have.
[00:08:20.520]In times where your resources are tighter you have to
[00:08:23.450]make hard decisions, and that's part of this process
[00:08:26.300]that we're going through to try to protect
[00:08:28.190]our academic programs at the University
[00:08:30.490]and what we do for our students first,
[00:08:32.862]and then have to make those adjustments as we move forward.
[00:08:38.250]Brandon Benitz with the Rural Radio Network,
[00:08:39.900]and our weekly Chat With the Chancellor,
[00:08:41.610]this week with a special guest, Dr. Ronnie Green,
[00:08:43.700]the Chancellor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
[00:08:46.090]Dr. Green, you talked about maybe some more positive
[00:08:48.970]news coming out of the legislature this last week,
[00:08:51.050]and along with that, the many campuses in the system
[00:08:53.880]just had an Advocacy Day earlier this week.
[00:08:56.340]Talk a little bit about that better news,
[00:08:58.080]and what the Advocacy Day looked like.
[00:09:00.740]Well, as I said Brandon, you know,
[00:09:01.960]the Appropriations Committee has put forward
[00:09:04.080]a reduced reduction from what had
[00:09:06.440]been proposed by the Governor,
[00:09:07.720]and we're certainly hopeful that that will hold,
[00:09:10.150]and are very pleased with that.
[00:09:12.138]There's been a huge amount of outpouring of support
[00:09:15.820]for the University through this process,
[00:09:17.850]understanding that the state needs to address
[00:09:20.230]these fiscal concerns and the tough decisions
[00:09:22.700]that the legislature and the Governor have to make.
[00:09:25.675]A huge amount of outpouring and support of
[00:09:28.390]not only alumni of the University,
[00:09:30.440]but people who benefit throughout
[00:09:32.874]the state from the University
[00:09:33.750]and the economic impact that we know that it has.
[00:09:36.493]And most recently, on Tuesday of this past week,
[00:09:40.330]there was an NU Advocacy Day in the Capital,
[00:09:43.470]where we had several hundred people show up,
[00:09:45.608]primarily students from across the four campuses
[00:09:49.480]of the University system to visit as constituents
[00:09:52.550]with their Senators from across the state,
[00:09:54.930]and to advocate for the importance
[00:09:57.350]of access to the University and for access to education,
[00:10:01.300]which is one of our hallmarks here in Nebraska,
[00:10:03.850]of having a very open
[00:10:05.520]and accessible public University system for our citizens,
[00:10:08.694]and the economic impact of the University as it stands.
[00:10:13.100]So it was kind of cool to see, there are, you know,
[00:10:15.840]students from all across the University.
[00:10:18.130]They were there on their own accord,
[00:10:19.870]as well as some faculty and some staff, alumni,
[00:10:22.440]business leaders, others from throughout the state as well,
[00:10:25.900]so we really appreciated that level of advocacy
[00:10:29.560]and support for the University.
[00:10:31.860]I like to say the momentum that we have currently,
[00:10:35.210]and I would say this is true irregardless
[00:10:37.380]of which campus you're talking about,
[00:10:39.118]there is huge momentum across the University in enrollment,
[00:10:42.980]in the size and growth, you know,
[00:10:45.885]we expect our enrollment at UNL this fall
[00:10:48.357]to be up significantly to a new record level.
[00:10:50.130]We've set a record the last two years in our enrollment,
[00:10:53.190]in our 149 year history.
[00:10:55.400]So it's a huge serge in enrollment
[00:10:57.600]while we're seeing in surrounding states,
[00:11:00.768]declines in enrollment.
[00:11:02.970]Our research productivity is surging,
[00:11:05.280]our athletics programs,
[00:11:06.830]we're very excited about what the future looks like there,
[00:11:10.050]so it's just been very heartening to see
[00:11:12.580]and hear the support level that the University has had,
[00:11:15.860]realizing, you know, the constraints that the state
[00:11:18.330]is under and the hard decisions that we have to make
[00:11:20.880]to get to this next better economic time
[00:11:23.450]that we envision ahead of us.
[00:11:25.240]So very good to see that Advocacy Day
[00:11:27.590]earlier this week in Lincoln.
[00:11:29.438]Dr. Green, the last word is yours.
[00:11:32.320]On a positive note,
[00:11:33.460]what's going on on a campus at Lincoln this week?
[00:11:35.585]There's always positive things going on on campus,
[00:11:38.500]you know, and when I talk about the fact
[00:11:40.620]that you have the thousands
[00:11:41.700]and thousands of hours in students every day,
[00:11:43.890]it's kinda like a small city,
[00:11:45.490]I guess I would describe it Brandon,
[00:11:47.460]you know, you have 26,000 students,
[00:11:49.630]and you have about 7,500 faculty and staff,
[00:11:52.031]and the number of things that occur on a daily basis
[00:11:55.170]can kinda be mind boggling in and of itself.
[00:11:58.192]But you know, we are tremendously excited,
[00:12:01.460]as I mentioned earlier,
[00:12:02.820]we're looking at the year ahead of us,
[00:12:05.230]2019 will be our 150th anniversary
[00:12:09.060]of the University of Nebraska founded in Lincoln
[00:12:11.440]here on this campus so we are deep in the throws,
[00:12:14.910]we just launched this past week
[00:12:16.490]planning for our 150 Vision, we're calling it,
[00:12:19.890]for the University moving into this next time period ahead,
[00:12:23.340]and planning events to celebrate that 150th anniversary
[00:12:26.670]starting the beginning of 2019.
[00:12:29.150]And to think that we're going to have, as part of that,
[00:12:32.720]the biggest enrollment that we've ever had
[00:12:35.380]for the University of Nebraska to go into that year
[00:12:39.010]is pretty exciting, you know,
[00:12:40.290]and the opportunities that those students are going to have,
[00:12:43.290]and we expect our freshmen class to be up across the board.
[00:12:46.290]So excitement brewing ahead for us,
[00:12:48.870]looking toward this big year that we have coming up.
[00:12:51.532]That was Chancellor Ronnie Green
[00:12:53.340]at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln,
[00:12:54.860]joining us as a special guest
[00:12:56.230]on our Chat with the Chancellor
[00:12:57.410]here in the Spring 2018 semester.
[00:12:59.900]With the Rural Radio Network, this is Brandon Benitz.
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