By Nathan Heuer
The University of Nebraska Chancellor Ronnie Green made his way to Fairbury on Friday, June 13 as a part of an approximately 20 city tour through the state of Nebraska to promote the university and give insight to the impact and growth the university has had in recent time.
Green sees the tour as an integral part of improving the university by listening to community leaders on their thoughts of the university while giving feedback on what direction UNL is headed currently.
“We feel like it’s very important to engage with not only students, parents, and alums from the university, but civic leaders, business leader, and government officials across the state,” he said. “It’s always very valuable to be able to hear people about the university and what they think is happening at the university and its impact, as well as telling the story of the university too.”
The Virginia native admitted it was the first time he had actually spoke with community members in Fairbury in his life, although he has traveled through it many times as his wife, Jane Green, grew up in Clay County.
Following his interview with the Fairbury Journal-News, the UNL Chancellor made his way down to the Jefferson County Fair to engage in conversation with a variety of people in the community.
“We’ll have a chance to be over and visit with people at the fair this evening. Opportunity to visit with not only 4-H youth through extension there but also with our extension professionals and a lot of other folks there as well,” he said.
At the beginning of June, Green ventured into Thayer County for the Cattlemen’s Ball held in Hebron. The longtime attendee of the event noted he was a big fan of the Cattlemen’s Ball being in Hebron due to his familiarity with the area. The experience was also a first for new Husker Athletic Director Bill Moos, who was accompanied by Green at the event.
“I’ve been to maybe six or seven Cattlemen’s Ball over the years. My wife and were co-host of the ball just south of Lincoln in Princeton two years ago. I’ve been very involved trying to support the cause for Cattlemen’s Ball to raise money for cancer research at UNMC.
“This year I had the opportunity to introduce Bill Moos and his wife Kendra to a lot of folks. Let them have an opportunity to enjoy that event and it was also was in a neighborhood town of where my wife grew up. So, what a great opportunity to see a lot of folks,” Green said.
Topics that the 57-year-old went into depth about involving the university spanned from the state of the university’s growth, to the direction that the Husker athletic programs are headed.
Over the past four years the University of Nebraska has broken records for enrollment numbers and Green doesn’t see that feat changing anytime soon. He believes with the school’s career-oriented schooling, and state of the art facilities whether it be academics or athletics, the University of Nebraska is in a very good place heading into the 2018-2019 school year.
“There is tremendous momentum at the university.  When I came into this role two years ago we had been experiencing significant momentum at the university from no matter how you measure it,” Green said. “Whether it was in student enrollment and the number of students that were coming to the university and graduating from the university and going out into the work force. This year, this fall, we expect to have the fourth year in a row of record enrollment at the university in our 150-year history. It’s a pretty cool thing. Prior to that our highest enrollment had been in 1981.”
On the university campus new buildings are popping up year-round, enabling UNL to stay ahead of the curve with other schools across the country.
Green dove into a few of the projects that the school is doing currently or has recently been done.
“There’s a huge amount of building growth on our campus. If you come to Lincoln you can’t miss that the campus is changing physically. New business building we opened a year ago, $84 million state of the art facility. All privately fund raised, built by donors. About to start two big new buildings in the next year and a half in our college of engineering, the renovation of that complex on our campus and an addition to that,” he said. “New construction around our education college and our college of human sciences. New $40 million facility slated to go into that complex. New Carson Center for the emerging media arts. New center that was able for us to begin one of only two in the U.S. by Johnny Carson’s Foundation.”
With his education background in agriculture and animal sciences, as well as agriculture being a crucial element to the economy in the state, Green mentioned that the university is also making an effort to improve the ag economy in the state every day. The University of Nebraska is on the leading edge for all universities in the country for their continued development of technology in the industry.
“Our hallmark, one of hallmark areas that we’re known for around the world is strength in agriculture, natural resources, everything to do with the agricultural industry,” Green said. “Water, food security, food science, agriculture economics, animal science, the livestock industry in particular, plant science and the innovation around plant science. Much of that has been developed at the University of Nebraska. We’re very proud of that and continue to be a world leader in those areas. So everyday we’re impacting agriculture in Nebraska very significantly.”
Another area of the college that has been gaining a tremendous amount of positive traction is the state of Husker athletics. The splash hire of Scott Frost and the addition of Moos are at the top of the list for reasons why, but Green iterated that no matter the sport, the Huskers have tremendous support from a second-to-none fanbase.
“We are very fortunate that athletics is a very important thing here in Nebraska. As anybody in Nebraska knows, Husker athletic is part of the identity of Nebraska. That’s a wonderful thing. The support level that the fan base has for Husker athletics across sports,” Green said. “Football is certainly the banner that everybody sees most visibly, but it’s basketball, it’s soccer, it’s volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics. You can go down the list. There’s very strong support. We have one of the highest attendance records of any program in the country.”
As for his thoughts on Scott Frost and the upcoming season football season, it’s reflects optimism that all Husker football fans share across the state.
“I’m excited to see how that develops under Scott and his team’s leadership. A lot of anticipation around his opening season this fall. We’re expecting to win some games, excited about that. I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm,” Green said. “Our expectation is to be competitive. We expect that in Husker athletics. We expect to do it the right way. We expect it to be with Nebraska values. We expect to be competitive and work hard for that competition and we’re already seeing that.”