“Becoming UNK” (Panel Discussion)

“Becoming UNK” (Panel Discussion)


(horn blows) (choir singing) (applause) – Thank you, UNK (mumbles) fight song from our
beautiful alma mater. I just want to take
one minute before we start with the rest of
the evening and thank the communications and
marketing team here at University of
Nebraska, Kearney. (microphone feedback) Just when I was done. I was too quick to thank you.
(audience laughs) What a great, great video
production that was. (applause) Tonight’s a very,
very special evening. One is that we have
all of you here. It makes it extremely special. Kearney community supports the
university in many, many ways and the (mumbles) more. We have some very distinguished
guests including not one but two former
presidents of the University of Nebraska system. And I’m not sure if I should
introduce you by seniority, by age, or order
of service so I’m just gonna jump right in. To your right, over to my left, I’d like to introduce
you to Dr. Ronald Roskens He’s the president of the
university starting in 1977 and all the way in consideration
in the beginning of the transition of
Kearney State College to the University of
Nebraska, Kearney. (applause) To your left, my right, we
have Dr. Martin Massengale, the University of Nebraska
president from 1989 to 1993. Martin was in charge of
the transition in many of those difficult
discussions that occurred (mumbles) the transition, and
is still actively engaged in the University of
Nebraska system. So, Dr. Martin.
(applause) Our presidents, it’s
great to have you here. It makes our event special
and perhaps even historic. A few years have passed. There’s no
politicians we need to be particularly concerned of. Our legislature is still
in session so this evening we can talk a little
candidly about what occurred. We’re also grateful to have a
perspective of several others who were either on the
center stage or the front row of watching these
events from 1989 to 1991. To your far left, my
right, John Payne. John was a Nebraska regent for
18 years from 1980 to 1998. Still lives here in Kearney. And John, I’m so appreciative
of your friendship and your service
and particularly to be here this evening. John Payne.
(applause) This evening before I
came, I decided I was gonna slip away and take
a real quick … I was gonna review and I
thought, “I’ll go some place “where nobody knows who I am
and nobody will ever know me.” Who was the first person I run
into but our next panelist. She and her family were there and were kind enough to
be here this evening. Kim Carlson, who’s uniquely
quality to reflect on UNK’s 25 years of pro
university system. She was a Kearney state college student during the transition. She is now a UNK
professor of Biology. She received her first
UNK degree in 1992 and her second in 1994. She’s known as being candid
and correct in a very, very good way and one
of our best professors. Kim Carlson.
(applause) Last but not least to
your far right, my left, we welcome our good
friend Pete Kotsiopulos. As an alumnus of Kearney State,
he has been Kearney’s mayor, City Council, has worked with
the University of Nebraska central administration on
statewide economic development. He’s led the UNK
Foundation here, he works in the UNK
Alumni Association, and during the peak
years that I’m gonna talk about this evening,
Pete was a member of the Nebraska State College
Board of Trustees. My good friend,
Pete Kotsiopulos. (applause) Let me take you back to
1989 for just a moment before we begin our panel. In 1989, the legislature
was a year that many issues first cropped up. In fact, many of them are
still on the scene today. But perhaps one of the
most prominent issues of the day were those
of higher education, and the dissatisfaction over
the state college system’s treatment of Kearney
State College. Kearney State College,
as you saw in the movie, didn’t grow much faster than
the other state colleges. We weren’t able to keep up
with the budget (mumbles) of a very quick
and growing campus. And because those
needs were not met, other forces began to formulate. The start of 1989 legislative
session saw the introduction of three competing
concepts dealing with higher education
in Nebraska. First was LB160 introduced
by Senator Jerome Warner, a young freshman by the name
of Christensen, (mumbles). That bill would’ve transferred
Kearney State College in the University
of Nebraska system. There was a second
bill introduced, LB247. It was introduced
by the chair of the Education Commission
Committee, Ron Wyndham. And that bill studied
the idea of a transfer, but also looked at all of
higher education governance. The final bill that was
introduced was LB760, introduced by Sandy Scofield
in Western Nebraska, which would’ve changed the
names of all the existing state colleges and made
them state universities. For example, Kearney
would’ve been called Central Nebraska State. (mumbles) would’ve been known as Western Nebraska
State University. Actually, the (mumbles). Sandy liked that and so she decided to draft
it into the bill. She would have retained
the Board of Trustees but obviously (mumbles). The transfer bill became the
point of attention for Kearney. The community put out
a full court press. They hired a lobbyist,
developed a plan of attack. The fact that Jerryy Warner
was the chief sponsor added great, great credibility,
also his (mumbles) skills that were essential to help us. One such example was
the unspoken claim Kearney into the university
system was unconstitutional. Jerry (mumbles) see
in the future, could ahead of most of us, and
so sensing that would be a point of
contention on the floor. He asked (mumbles) in January, this would’ve happened about
the first week of February. The bill was in the committee
towards the end of February, February 21st to be exact. Lots of input, lots of
support for transfer. Many of the people
here this evening testified in favor of that bill. The study represented more
of a reasonable approach, and the bill that would
change all the names to (mumbles) is a way to
beat this whole thing, and so just put it away. After (mumbles), Senator
Wyndham as the chair of the committee decided
that he would let the study bill out. He moved that out of the
committee onto the floor. He prioritized (mumbles),
which meant that it was gonna be considered
for the session. And the day before the
bill was to be made, the Attorney General
issued an opinion, and sure enough declared
that it was unconstitutional, citing that the constitution
read, “The general government “of the state colleges
now exist should be best “under the direction
of the legislature “and the Board of Trustees. Well, the Kearney community
wasn’t going to stand still. In fact, I think Senator
Warren told everybody that it was gonna
happen (mumbles). They already had
a law firm hired. And they issued another,
the exact opposite that the legislature was
free to transfer Kearney. And (mumbles) by Jerry Warner. He anticipated those
problems and diffused them. There was no advantage
to those AG’s opinions or (mumbles) issued. Now, both the other
bills, 170 and 760 were on the committee, and
so the focus really was on Ron Warren’s LB247. The day before the debate,
in the original introduceres of LB160, added an amendment
onto Wyndham’s bill. That was 27 years ago
tonight that, that happened. The next day, the bill
was debated at length. I think to call the debate
fierce is an understatement. Very divided, very (mumbles). (mumbles), who’s a
good friend by the way, but Don also led the opposition. He pointed out that the Governor
and the Board of Regents and the Board of Trustees
all took positions of studying the issue before
any action would be taken. He observed that all three
of those at least did next to nothing in
light of this issue. Here’s his quote, this
is on the floor of the legislature, “They’re all
watching and listening “while there’s (mumbles) robbing
on behalf of Kearney State “to come into the system. “A better course of action
is to study and not proceed, “and possible not
irrevocably harm “the higher education system.” He continued, “The last time
we went through this issue was “20 years ago when
UNL was (mumbles). “And looking back, there
are many that see that point “as a time, a definite point, “in which the university
started to decline “particularly for
the Lincoln campus. “And the Lincoln
faculty members remember “that day (mumbles) that day.
(audience laughs) He further said, “We will
see a diminish now of “resources going to
the other campus’ “and particularly
(mumbles) campus at “the University of
Nebraska, (mumbles).” That’s all (mumbles). The opposition gave the
greatest speech of all. After a day long of
debate, November 25, (mumbles) Kearney campus
inthe university system is attached to Senator
Wyndham’s bill. (mumbles) advanced, it did. It got 29 votes now
out of 12 people voting and eight chickens not voting.
(audience laughs) You know (mumbles) debate
(mumbles) many scars. And again, not picking on
Senator Wyndham, (mumbles). “There are some in the
university system central “administration office
that would very much “like to see that vote. “They like the idea of letting “Kearney in the
university system. “They think they can control
Kearney better from there. “They can diminish
Kearney’s wild ways. “Instead of Kearney
being kept under control, “it will in fact
Kearney be unleashed “and unleashed again to do
detriment all over the state.” (mumbles). The final passage
came on May 18th, 1989 and both sides were given one
last plea for and against. There were 36 people
who voted for the bill, 11 against and two not voting. And that was extremely
important because (mumbles) the bill was gonna pass. But if they had
more than 32 votes, the emergency clause
could be enacted and as soon as the
government signed the bill, the transition could occur, so
that was extremely important. Governor (mumbles) took the
very last day to sign it. It was signed on May 23rd of ’89 and July 1st 1991 was the day
they established the transfer. It was a very short
period of time as I’m sure Martin can attest. And we’ll try to
talk about that. Many, many things
had to be done. Members of the State Board
of Trustees, at least some, refused to implement
the transfer. So shortly after
that, (mumbles), Nebraska Attorney General,
filed an original action in the Supreme Court to declare the
legislation unconstitutional. That’s extraordinary because
in most cases when it gets to the Supreme Court,
you have to work it’s way up to the trial areas
and be (mumbles) appeal taking many, many months. The Supreme Court claimed
original jurisdiction, in other words they took
the case right away. They cited the matter
had key facts in dispute and was a matter of
great public importance. The matter was (mumbles)
and argued before the Supreme Court, and
less than one year later, May 18th, 1990, an
opinion was filed. Now, if you’re familiar
with the Supreme Court, there’s not a ceremonious
way of handing out pens. One of the staff people walk
out with a handful of pens and they throw them on the
table, and you’re like a bunch of dogs trying
to sift through and find the one you want. (mumbles) weeks
waiting for this. That day finally occurred
and of course you do (mumbles) reading from
the front to the back to see what happens. And at first
glance, as you know, the Supreme Court
set a justice system. And you start to think,
“Oh, my goodness. “a majority four out of seven
voted this unconstitutional.” I remember the blood
rushing down my head and the pit of my stomach. And then I happened to
remember that, “Oh yeah, “it needs a super majority,
it needs five votes,” and they only had four. And thus, LB247, making
Kearney State College in the university
system became law. And I think it points
out one more time in the history of this institution
that nothing’s ever been easy. And the (mumbles). This summer on July the first,
we will mark the official 25th anniversary of coming
into the university system. And so with that, it’s
difficult to start with a panel. But I’m gonna start (mumbles)
a little bit because you may start before some of
the words I spoke about. Could you talk to us a
little bit about what was going on with the
university system from your perspective and how this Kearney
thing started to bubble up? What were the
beginning roots of that when you were (mumbles)? – Well it began in I think ’88 when the legislative arena,
not in the legislature, but among us who were
trying to find a way to get this institution,
which was then as you know Kearney State
College, into our system But I learned in ’88,
I think it was in ’88, it might have been
’87, it doesn’t matter, it comes out the same. I learned that Senator
Lorenz (mumbles), at least the rumor was that
she had 20 signatures of the senators to bring
Kearney and the rest of the state colleges into a
separate university system. And I thought frankly
that, that would be disaster for Nebraska because
I knew of several states in which there were two
or more university systems and there were troubles there. Plus in our state, at that
point if you think back, the dollars, tax dollars
that were allocated to universities, were going, our university and
the state college, were going not necessarily down
but they were holding tight. Bill and I were good friends. We spent a lot of time
with some of our associates down in Lincoln when the
legislature was in session in those years arguing a lot, not arguing, that’s
too strong a word, talking about how
could we do this. And he was persistent
in wanting to have a university system. Well, enough of that, I
just put a period there because you pretty
much talk about that. I, as soon as I
heard about Lorenz, I don’t know whether
it was true or not, so-called signatures, I
went to my good friend, Jerome Warren, who took it
immediately to the tractor where he was cultivating,
and that’s where he made, he often said, “That’s where
I make my good decisions.” And I have no doubt about
it because he thought, and thought, and thought,
and he was a great thinker. I will say more about him
later if I have a chance. But in any event, he
then did in fact do what you have already described,
and there’s no need for me to repeat that. I just think that it
worked out beautifully, but I have to freely say to you, and I do so without
any hesitancy, I was concerned about
having a second system, a second university
system in this state. – John, you were on
the Board of Regents. What were they thinking and
discussing at this point? – Well, it was a four-four vote. We had two Omaha senators
that were on our side. Excuse me, regents, Colonel
Hansen and Jim Walen who was definitely in favor of Kearney. And myself and I can’t
recall but we did have four. And the others
didn’t want Kearney and so it became
very contentious. As Ronald remembers,
we had some rip roaring discussions about that. But eventually, then
the next year got worse. Colonel Hansen, now
there was only two wanted Kearney in the system, and
the other six were a no I guess when we changed
presidents unfortunately. It was not a pretty sight. – [Voiceover] There
were some tough days in the Board of Regents. – There were some
real tough days. – Let me put a p.s.
to that (mumbles). Now, he’s jumped up to 1989. And in 1989, as was the
case every legislative year, our primary lobbyist, meaning
our in-house lobbyist, was Ron, no, no, was … – [Voiceover] Jim (mumbles). – No. – [Voiceover] (mumbles). – Come on.
(audience laughs) – (mumbles). – Ron, Lee Ron. Lee Ron and I, as we did
every legislative session, which was our responsibility,
we had lunch or sometimes breakfast with every
single legislative member by himself or herself. And in each case,
we did not bring up, in fact we would not
bring up the subject. But in ever case, the Senator
would bring up the subject. “Now, what’s the
deal?” Thy would say. “What’s the deal on
this Kearney thing?” And I always tried to say,
and I thankfully testify (mumbles) sometimes said
it himself, “We have a “four to four split
on the regents.” And I’d stop there. And I might have said
a few more things, but I didn’t identify anybody. Then they always say,
“Well, what’s your view?” I’m not gonna lie. I’m not gonna be bought, I say. In each case where I was at, I think it’s a wise
thing for us to do. And that’s what ended my career. (audience laughs) – I suppose I can
(mumbles) real quickly here and say, “I’m glad
that happened” Pete, you were on the State
Board of Trustees (mumbles). What was going on at
that point in time? What was the discussions
like from your perspective? – To be candid, when I was
appointed I served under both Governors Kerry
and Governor (mumbles). And after four or five
months on the board initially in ’83, I almost
thought about leaving. It was a strange group
(audience laughs) who didn’t believe
in open meeting laws. Decisions were made
on Friday night before the public
meeting Saturday. A couple of meetings
I left early. So, you get the picture. So, fast forward several
years after what turned out to be a good friend
and mentor was Jerry Warner who basically told me, “Pete,
you either work with the “machine you have in
place or you work to “figure out how to
rework the machine.” And so as it’s
been limited to on the tractor, here it comes. Initially, the discussion
was to have all four of the campuses
to come on board to join the university. As time evolved,
say the 9:00, 10:00, 11:00 hours, the wheels
started falling off. There were just two
of us left out of seven that were supporting. And quite frankly,
we (mumbles) round. I know if any of my
colleagues were still living, that they were not aware
that a few of us were working behind the
scenes to make that work. We felt that Jerry
Warner, President Nester, Earl Rademaker, myself,
that this would be a good thing for Kearney State. And what we’ve seen on the video tells the rest of the story. It was every touching. – [Voiceover] Could you just
touch a little bit about the Kearney community
organization at that point? What was it like? – Well, part of me was
personally in transition too because I was not gonna
get, not by my choice, be re-appointed on that
board, and that’s when I ran for Council and mayor
the following year. So, to me the community
was very much behind it. It was, Bill Nester,
as somebody stated, was a tiger and
very competitive. He was a baseball
player as a youth. And we shed a lot of tears
together and we laughed a lot but I think we had
a great relationship with the community as a campus. We did before Bill
Nester, still do. So, I think that’s been a key. – So, I’m gonna get to
the student point of view. Martin, you were in
a unique position. You were Chancellor at
Cornell during this period. I’m sure you had no
problems on campus. Can you explain or talk
about what the view was like in the planning
period of time, at least from your perspective? – (mumbles). I learned some things in
the back myself (mumbles). I say that the group
that had the most to (mumbles) was
probably the faculty. And regarding the faculty
(mumbles), some were indifferent and some were supportive
later in life. It didn’t never
take any position (mumbles) take position of it. But I think that most
people were probably sitting and waiting to see what
happened, quite honestly. And I felt a little bit like
a longtime Senator up north, (mumbles), who one time said, he was asked about where
he stood (mumbles). He said, “Well, some of
my friends are over on “this side and some of
my friends on this side “and I support my friends.” (audience laughs) – [Voiceover] Obviously you
were then selected as president for the period of transition. So when you first came
in, was that hard to deal with the Board of Regents? – Yeah, pretty (mumbles). I would say after
(mumbles) the faculty would (mumbles) I think
came along very well and supported the
integration of it. There were many things
to do moving from the college to a university. And a main concern
to the faculty is what Dr. Roskins said earlier. Once it stopped moving from
a college to a university regarding more
graduate education, regarding more research,
and we elected (mumbles) resources available to Nebraska, that it would probably take
away from the other campuses particularly the Lincoln campus. So, their main concern
was a personal concern. And (mumbles), then I
worked with Bill Nester and others along to try the
implementing of this thing. There was one graduate
college in the university and there was one in Kearney
that had to be changed. They changed the name the
president and changed it to Chancellor, and a number
of things of that nature. I think that faculty, as
pointed out in the video, really has changed tremendously
in that period of time. It’s been a good move
but I don’t think there’s any question
about it now. (mumbles) the
university (mumbles) and the graduate level
education (mumbles). So, I think that certainly in
hindsight it was a good move. – Well, one of the great
products of that move, as we’ve all said
as faculty members. Kim Carlson, you’re
one of the great champion examples of that. But also a different
perspective, what a student during this period? – Well, actually it
was really interesting. There were (mumbles). Having a very unique
perspective, my husband, then my boyfriend at the
time, had two roommates who both were on the Student Senate and President Nester’s son was
also on the Student Senate. So, they had a conversation
and his two roommates who were on opposite ends
of either becoming University of Nebraska or
becoming Kearney State College. So, (mumbles) Student
Senate was (mumbles), I’d always go over to
the house because it was so much fun sitting there
and listening to them yell at each other about this. Actually, they had a really
good grasp of what was occurring one because
Nester’s son was on the Student Senate at that time. He brought that perspective
too of the (mumbles). He also was talking to people
about what was going on and what he was trying to do. Students, I think the
biggest concerns that there were was that is
tuition going to go up. Because a lot of
students like I said came out here because the
tuition was so inexpensive. So, that was one of
the biggest concerns, what’s gonna happen
to my financial aid. Also another concern,
a true concern, it might seem a
little silly but was do we have to be red and white? (audience laughs) UNC was red and white, UNL is red and while, we
want to stay blue and gold. That was a big concern
but a lot of it was we really have no say,
which really wasn’t true. We really had a lot
of say as students because there were
student forums. I did attend three
different student forums. We did have an opinion,
not the same poll that the faculty took about what would
you like the name to be. The students also took
that poll and actually came out different than
what the faculty did. We wanted to be part of the
University of Nebraska system. As I said, I had a unique
perspective having those two friends who were on the
Student Senate and actually had been hearing all
the pros and cons. So, a lot of that
happened that last year. Students don’t do
much until it’s the very last
moment (mumbles) and there was no difference here. – Ron, you talked about
Jerry Warner (mumbles). What do you suppose if
Jerry was alive today, his view would be of
what we did fight for? – If Jerome Warner were
here and he is in spirit by the way, seriously,
were it not for him I don’t know we would be here. But in any event, I
think Jerome would say, if he had a microphone, “This
was a very good decision. “I’m glad I went out on the
tractor and drove it a lot,” because that’s exactly what
he did just a couple of days later when he had
drawn the conclusion that we had to go this route. And I think he would say
that what had occurred here is beyond his
expectations at a time, meaning I’m not
talking just numbers, I’m not talking just buildings,
but the growth in quality, and in spirit, and
in sense of really, really making it a university. He (mumbles). In fact, if I may
throw in a comment, what I’m saying is
voluntary comment, which I’m gonna make (mumbles). I have been sitting here
thinking that we’ve been discussing the events
that took place, and particularly after the film, and I’m saying to
myself, “Where is the “name Warner out here?” Have we thought about that? Let me give you that
suggestion free. (audience laughs) I’m serious.
(applause) – (mumbles)? – Yes. – Two points that you might
want to consider in that regard. First, (mumbles). The second one, (mumbles)
what Dr. Roskens just said. – That’s right, Charles
obviously introduced the first bill back in 1903 to (mumbles). It’s a small state (mumbles). – May I? – Yes, absolutely. – I think another thing
happened that may have just, not fighting for it, but
certainly an important emergence of the
campus and so forth. Joining the University
of Nebraska Foundation, I think it provided many,
many things to benefit this campus because they
have these structures, they have the (mumbles)
and so forth that have to go out and raise money. I think now (mumbles) because of private money that
joining the (mumbles). (applause) – I’ve come to know that in
the last year or two that, bless his heart, Andy
Anderson who’s not with us longer but perhaps
here in spirit also, was I believe chairman
or board chair of the University of Nebraska
Foundation at the time. And he and his vice chair were
stalwarts in that effort that Dr. Massengale mentions in
that Kearney’s five million at the time took the
University of Nebraska’s assets over 300 million. And they wanted to
get to that goal. Now, those assets
are 1.8 billion. So, it’s about 25 years later. (applause) – John Payne, I’m gonna
let you speak but I also want to ask you for a
little bit of an opinion. When the transition
began to occur, when it was clear that
this was gonna happen, did the mood of
the board change? Were they supportive? Did they help our then
president on a massive scale or was there still some
residual resentment? – I think it changed quite
a bit, don’t you Martin? I think they were on favor. It’s amazing how
they came about. One of the key people that
we haven’t mentioned is Chancellor Dale Weber from
UNR and he was very much in favor of bringing
Kearney into the system. And he lobby’d (mumbles),
who was the leader of the legislators
in the Omaha area and we were fortunate,
going back in our past, that (mumbles) was very
pleased with Kearney. – I think he would be amazed
at the cooperation that (mumbles) today between
all the campus’ as well. That was the largest
(mumbles) regionalism (mumbles) campus’ and
actually the campus’ have worked very well together. – At the time, as
Lincoln people felt the university was moving
brick by brick. Everything in Omaha and
of course the Omaha people thought that Lincoln
had everything and they were going to get more. So, I think the economy
was a great balance of the whole situation. – So, Lincoln ó – A lot of people thought
the school was out west. (audience laughs) – (mumbles). Kim, what do you
think the terms, after becoming a faculty member, you had a chance to
watch this whole circle. Did you ever think that as a
student, you’d be sitting here at the 25th anniversary
as a faculty member? – No.
(audience laughs) – But given that,
as a faculty member, you obviously have some
view of what occurred in the past and what
happens in the day. Can you give us a
little insight to that? – Sure. Things have changed a
lot in the past 25 years. At the time when we were
changing over to the university system, I did
get the opportunity to talk to some of the faculty
that were here at the time to get their perspectives also. They said they realized
they were told that it’s gonna slowly evolve. But one of the things that
did happen in my department, we had faculty members
who earned their That doesn’t happen anymore. If you’re hired as a
faculty member at (mumbles), a tenured faculty
(mumbles) system, you have to have your PhD or
already have a dissertation. That was the change that
happened because of the changeover to the
University system. That’s in the Board
of Regents bylaws. That was different. There was also the
fear that we’re not a (mumbles) institution,
are we going to have to do much more research? Well, the sciences, we’re
really embracing that. Unfortunately, we did not
have the resources to do that. When I was a student here at, our elective Biology
lab was a closet. It was probably I’d say
six feet by six feet and there were 12 of us
in there at one time. We did this technique
called PCR that’s all regulated on temperature. We build this water
bath for 30 seconds, this one, this for 30
seconds, we have 300 (mumbles) lined up (mumbles) going,
“Go, go, go,” for an hour and a half because we didn’t
have money for the equipment. That’s changed. When I came back we also
didn’t have any labs. Classrooms can double as
labs with the renovation and now we have, if you haven’t
been to see the (mumbles) of science, it’s complete
a different building than when I was a student. I always tell my friend,
“If you haven’t been back, “you need to come back. It’s not the same campus.” We have all sorts,
we have lab space, we have faculty members who do
research with undergraduates, we have a lot of equipment
that would break camaraderie with the University of
Nebraska Medical Center. UNL (mumbles), we have great (mumbles) with those campus’, a true university consortium. Did I see that as a
student happening? No, I didn’t. We are viewed as
the ugly red-headed step-child of the
university system. That’s really the issue, right? You start as you’re the
big fish in the pond in the state school system, and
now you have to go down to meet the tiny little fish. And that was a big fear. I think that at the time
since this has happened, it’s actually
turned into a great collaboration among the campus’. – Pete, Kim’s talked about
what some of the students saw . I’m interested in your
view of the institution. What do you think was the
good things that happened, and do you think there
were some things that weren’t so good for
us that happened? I’d be interested
in your observation. – Kim’s remarks,
they trigger some. I’m having flashbacks
of all the nightmares after watching that video. – You have to take
your medication. – Yeah.
audience laughs) I’ll get to that later. But back to the
state college board, again it was a
very, to me it was, I though (mumbles) here
tonight who would attest, to me the state college
system did not take advantage of Kearney’s
size and their inputs. And it was every fourth
building, every fourth. It was bizarre. It was not about equity,
it was about equal. And that to me kept,
I want to say in one sense holding Kearney back. But at the same time, we said
it several times tonight, that they’ve been
able to do more with less through their
whole history. That was a great example. By the time after Jerry
Warner’s encouragement that changed the machinery,
putting prioritization of capital projects in the
state, that was unheard of. But I can see by the end
of five or six years that even though we had those
in place, there was still that fight, if you will. I said it again, using
Kearney’s leverage in the legislature with the governor,
it just wasn’t happening. Had we done the homework,
the research as to what that university status would
do for not on the faculty but the capitol,
but the students, and history’s only
proved that to be right. So to me, there were
a lot of things that we were challenged with. And I to this day was
not a bad move at all. Perhaps (mumbles) but I
think that Early would attest that I probably was tougher on
Kearney those six years than I was just because I didn’t
want (mumbles) with (mumbles) . I’m very, very pleased
you can tell and still am. – (mumbles) Warner’s storage
and (mumbles) take that tractor and (mumbles)
the capitol (mumbles). John, this is what I’m gonna do. We want to get some
questions from the audience, so I’m gonna start
with you and we’ll just come down the aisle here. Could you give some
final observations before we go to questions
from the audience? – Just one comment. When Martin became president,
he instituted a new police that the Board
of Regents would honor and recognize each department
throughout the university. That’s what, 277 departments? And the very first winner
of that award included a $25,000 stipend was the
Chemistry department at UNK. (applause) The very first professor I think it was Don Kaufman, Chemistry. I think that really
made it that Kearney was part of the (mumbles). – Kim (mumbles) about that. – That was a good
move on your part. – Martin? – Next, he was one of the
beneficiaries of the campus. Kim, (mumbles). – Yes, we won the
university wide departmental (mumbles) two years
ago, yeah, we did. – Kim, any last
thoughts or issues? – Having going from being
a student to making the transition (mumbles) and
going all the way through the university
system, like I did my undergraduate and my
master’s degree here. I did my PhD at UNL and
I did a post-doctorate (mumbles) back at UNC. This is the best place to be.
(audience laughs) (applause) – Martin, I had a number
of those (mumbles). And you were a gracious host, but you also were a
great communicator of the progress and transition. You gave me constant
candid feedback, some (mumbles), some gonna
take us a little longer, but I think that was a strength. Any final observations
before we go to the audience? – Well, I (mumbles) for Bill
Nester, as you can remember and probably know
about because of a number of things were true. Bill was a tough
negotiator who (mumbles). I ended up very happy with
the way it worked out. The fact that the
people came together and they suddenly talked
about the departmental award. The reason that I did
that is I thought that we could get better
cooperation among and within departments if they have
some reason to work together. And they almost have to
work together if they qualify for that,
which I think is a pretty good bonus at that time. In fact, our student
(mumbles) individual. – Well, it’s a big bonus for us. We just used that
$25,000 to outfit all of our teaching
laboratories with microscopes. So, (mumbles). – Good, perfect. – I’m gonna say the last
final observation today. Any big surprises or
perhaps disappointments other than (mumbles) Chancellor? (audience laughs) – I think part of this is
interesting as we reflect on it in that both
the governors carry more during that time. Both, whatever was driving
it, felt some kind of re-organization needed to be
done in higher-ed in Nebraska. They just didn’t know
how to go about it. So, bless Jerry Warner’s heart. I think Kearney has
nothing to apologize for past, present, future. And we have four unique
campus’ in this system and I think that’s helping. – Ron, before we go to audience participation,
any questions? – I would like to make
an observation that is blatant obviously
to everyone here but hasn’t been uttered,
and that is an institution like this, for that matter
most any institution, is able to move forward
and prosper to the extent that the leadership that it’s capable of showing the way. And the choice of
Chancellor for this place, my friends, was the
best it could’ve been, and he’s right there.
(applause) I’m not gonna butter him up
(audience laughs) but (mumbles). I’ve known him well
in the legislature. He wasn’t always as
supportive as I’d like to see but I realize ó No I’m kidding, I’m kidding.
(audience laughs) He was always helpful
and supportive. The second observation
I’d like to make is this, I think it’s time we stop
thinking of this as a place. It’s a philosophy, it’s a gem. Don’t lose sight of that. (applause) – Thank you, everybody
on the panel. We wanted to spend
a little time. Kelly, what do you suppose
we have for time here? – [Voiceover] We
have 15 minutes. – 15 minutes or so? It is hard for me to
see in the audience. So, Kelly, if you can
help me pick out people. Get a microphone,
Kelly’s got a microphone and don’t be shy. – [Voiceover] (mumbles). – We would take
questions from the panel. They are happy to answer them. Surely (mumbles) supporters. – [Voiceover] I probably
(mumbles) John right now, seeing me stand up here, sorry, but I have to say that I really
think this group needs to understand who was the
beginning incentive person to encourage Kearney going
into the university system. I went through this
for a long, long time and he really firmly believed
that this needed to be done, and he worked very hard,
and he tried his darnest and accomplished what he
wanted, what his goal was, to get Kearney into the system. And I really truly believe
that he needs to be understood and people need to applaud
him for doing this very thing. (applause) – I had to be nice to
her for a long time. (audience laughs) – Now, I’m gonna ask (mumbles). Other questions, yes? – [Voiceover] With regard to
the university and Kearney, the university system,
even expanding out to the state college system,
is there unfinished business that still exists to this
day even 25 years later? – Who wants to take that one? – You mean the other three
state colleges should be part of the university, is
that what you’re talking about? – [Voiceover] Any of that. Does UNK have unfinished
business, does the system have, does the state college system? – Well, I think the state
college, the three that are left pride themselves and
they’re future colleges. I think they want to
continue to be that way. As far as the
university is concerned, Kearney, it’s been demonstrated
tonight that Kearney has been a great addition to
the entire university system. – Martin? – I might comment
on that context. I think community colleges
probably (mumbles). They tend to be (mumbles). I’m not sure (mumbles)if
they were more coordinated together and worked together. – There is a current regent, Bob Farris, who I
think is out there. He can answer some
of these questions. – (mumbles) exception to
Bob being the only one. (audience laughs) – [Voiceover] Well, first
let me say thank you for putting on a tremendous
presentation. It was quite a celebration. Thank you, pretty much on
behalf of the Board of Regents. And I don’t want you
to take this literally but I want you to
understand the influence of Kearney State and University
of Nebraska, Kearney. Former chair, Bob Farris,
Kearney State grad, (mumbles) current chair for
Kearney Nebraska and (mumbles), Robert Whitehouse,
Kearney State grad, we’re in charge of them. (audience laughs) I just want to finish by
saying we picked up on President Russ’
observation of (mumbles). The transition has really
gone from institution as a diamond in the rough
to a polished gemstone. This is a terrific
transformation that has occurred in the past 25 years. I thank John Payn for supporting
that and the rest of the presidents and the
university (mumbles). Thank you very much. (applause) – Is there anymore
questions out there? – [Voiceover] Here, (mumbles). – Jim Hellerbach, are you here? – [Voiceover] (mumbles). – Jim’s everywhere. – Jim, we haven’t
heard from you. – [Voiceover] Just quick. – [Voiceover] All
right, go ahead. – [Voiceover] 25 years ago I was chairman of the country board and long story short,
you were there, Bob Carey was there
also and meeting on the teacher’s
conference back then. And he asked the question
after seven or 10 minutes, you know how he was. He said, “Personally,
you got to ask “yourself what is in a name.” And 25 years later, I’d like
to ask what is in a name? Does that help? – From a lay perspective,
I was not aware until I did some homework about
this issue what the … Across the country when
you’re talking about faculty, students, and grant awards,
those kinds of things, as a lay person I didn’t
really understand what that (mumbles) meant. And again 25 years later,
I think it’s proven now. I think you have to be
careful when you say we have better students,
we have better faculty, we have better capital. I think we have to be
careful when we say that. But I would have to say,
as Kim said earlier, Dr. Nester came from Ohio State. He had just terminated the
football coach, Woody Hayes. Everybody thought he was
gonna come to Kearney and take on the
Athletic department. He took on the faculty
and that was his goal, to raise the standards here. And we’ve had some incredible
faculty through the years, but I think as Kim has
testified that, that has helped. And then what has that done? I don’t remember the
staff but in the last four or five years, the ACT of
entering freshman continues to go up each year. So, I vote yes.
(audience laughs) – Others in the
observation of the name? Jim, I would add
this, it’s hard. It would have been easy just
to put the name university so everybody could walk away and be proud of that stationary. But this was more than that. This was bringing a campus
into an established premier university in the country
and making us part of that. The name was really
inconsequential. What really occurred
was to become part of a system (mumbles) every day. And you can call anybody
anything you want to and the name doesn’t
make a difference. But the proof is in
what we really did. And what we did is elevate the
quality of the campus here, as you’ve already pointed out,
to where we have tremendous guidance we could’ve never
given the students today. Their degree is worth much
more today not because of the name printed
on their diploma, but because of what’s
imprinted in their head, and they way they think
and act and perform. I think that’s the
(mumbles) I se, is the opportunity
we gave to students that they would have never had. – [Voiceover] And that’s
why you’re Chancellor. (audience laughs)
(applause) – (mumbles). One more. – [Voiceover] Back here. (mumbling) – [Voiceover] Well, I just
want to say things are still evolving, even
though it’s been 25 years. I spent 15 years as chair
of the Math department and part of that we
worked with pre-engineers to try to get them
to be transferred, be able to transfer
to universities that had engineering schools
and it was difficult. We never seemed to
get any feedback as to how we can make that
transition be easy. And so I wasn’t real pleased. Then the last publication
from UNK that I got said that the engineering
college at Lincoln and UNK had come to an agreement
as to how pre-engineers could spend time there on
the campus and make that transition there to finish
their engineering degree. So, I’m glad to see, I think
that’s (mumbles) to the fact that the medical
center and our campus worked to get the new building. I think other departments,
I think what UNL work out their differences
between what go on in Lincoln and what go on in Omaha. I think they can see
that everyone can benefit by having a closer cooperation
between all campus’ and make transfer much easier
for all of the programs. – Well said, thank
you very much. (applause) Before I turn us
for the evening, the year of celebration
will continue. And in the fall, and I
don’t know the date off the top of my head because
we probably haven’t selected an exact date
yet, but in September we’re gonna have a dinner
to celebrate, when we have all
the students back. And this time of
year is tough though. There’s lots of things
that go on in the spring. They’re a little
pre-occupied with, what’s that, finals?
(audience laughs) But we want to invite
you back to help celebrate in the fall because
I think at that point, we’re gonna focus on
what’s the future. Right now brought
us to present day, and the real challenge
is what do we do for the next 25
because the last 25 has been so successful
and so (mumbles). So with that, let’s thank
our panel one more time. (applause) Thanks to all of you
who came this evening. I’m sure that some of
the panel members will be around for a little bit
longer and would love a visit. But thank you for coming,
and above all, go (mumbles). (applause)

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