October 31, 2014

Former state fairgrounds emerging as Innovation Campus (AUDIO)

Nebraska Innovation Campus under construction on the old state fairgrounds in Lincoln

Nebraska Innovation Campus under construction on the old state fairgrounds in Lincoln

Nebraska Innovation Campus is taking shape on the former state fairgrounds.

Two buildings are occupied. Others are under construction.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman has high hopes for Innovation Campus.

“I think it does place us clearly in a lead toward the commercialization of innovation and I think it’s becoming an attraction for both students and faculty,” Perlman tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Construction crews have been erecting new buildings on the campus next to the Devaney Center, but the campus also retains some of the flavor of old State Fair buildings.

Perlman suggests the campus is coming full circle, with the innovation it proposes advancing agriculture around the globe.

Perlman calls it a 25-year project that shows steady progress, which will depend in large part on how successful the campus is on attracting private partners.

“The university is moving its food science department out here, but that’s pretty much the extent to which we will occupy the campus,” Perlman says. “Our objective is to have at least 75% of the buildings occupied by private-sector companies.”

Innovation Campus hopes to become a hub for global initiatives on food, water, and fuel.

Eventually, the campus will sprawl over 2.2 millions square feet, with 500,000 square feet completed within five years.

Buildings will be designed to foster interaction and stimulate ideas for the up to 5,000 people who could one day work and study on Innovation Campus.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Innovation Campus will be powered through innovative source (AUDIO)

UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman

UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman

Nebraska Innovation Campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will use an innovative energy source.

University and Lincoln city officials have announced the campus under construction on the former state fairgrounds will heat and cool buildings through an exchange of the heat generated by the nearby city waste-water facility.

UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman says the unusual energy source should actually attract businesses to Nebraska Innovation Campus.

“We know that attracting private sector companies to this property will require us to have a culture that’s suitable for innovation and for forward-looking companies,” Perlman says. “We know that the ability to make this campus green and to use renewable energy will be an important element in their consideration about whether they will join us as partners here.”

Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler says he’s pleased energy for the buildings will be generated through one of the few such systems in the nation.

“And it truly represents the spirit of Nebraska Innovation Campus and, in addition, is a direct reflection of UNL and the City of Lincoln’s mutual commitment to low-cost renewable energy and sustainability,” Beutler says.

The campus is under construction next to the Devaney Center.

AUDIO: UNL and City of Lincoln hold news conference on renewable energy source Nebraska Innovation Campus. [15:30]

College students charged, fraternity suspended in wake of freshman death

Seven people have been charged and a fraternity has been suspended after an investigation into the death of a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

UNL police arrested four members of the Farmhouse Fraternity and issued citations to three others in connection with the death of 18-year-old Clayton Real in early September.

In response to the investigation, university officials announced it has suspended the Farmhouse fraternity chapter at UNL.

“We have taken appropriate action, given the seriousness of the matter,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Juan Franco said in a written statement released by the university. “We have suspended this chapter.”

The indefinite suspension takes effect immediately. Freshman members of Farmhouse will not be allowed to reside in the fraternity house at 3601 Apple St., but will have to live in the dorms.

UNL police report alcohol flowed freely at a September 4th “frosh” party at 2009 South 16th Street in Lincoln, hosted by the Farmhouse fraternity. Fraternity officers and members provided the alcohol, including to underage members of the fraternity.

Real passed out from intoxication and was taken back to his room at Farmhouse, where he died in the night. An autopsy concluded that Real died of acute alcohol intoxication, with a blood alcohol content of .378.

Four students have been charged with the felony of procuring alcohol for a minor resulting injury or death:  21-year-old Vance Heyer, Farmhouse Fraternity Vice President; 19-year-old Thomas Trueblood, Farmhouse Fraternity Freshman Social Chair; 21-year-old Cory Foland, Farmhouse Fraternity New Member Educator; and 22-year-old Ross Reynolds, Farmhouse Fraternity member.

Three students have been charged with misdemeanor procuring alcohol to a minor:  21-year-old William Miller, Farmhouse Fraternity member; 20-year-old Marin Hartfield, UNL student; 20-year-old Lauren Williams, UNL student.

No other charges are expected at this time, according to UNL police, who add that the activities do not appear to meet the elements under the state statute against hazing.

Real, an Agricultural Economics major from Grafton, won a scholarship to UNL from his local chapter of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association.


“Boy and girl” controversy goes local in comments to Lincoln School Board

It became a national topic of conversation last week.

Now, local opinions have been expressed about the controversy that flared up in Lincoln over gender-inclusiveness training at a middle school.

Dozens addressed the Lincoln Public School Board and school officials during the public comment period prior to the regular school board meeting Tuesday evening.

Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel dismissed suggestions the school district is discarding the use of the terms “boys” and “girls” in favor of gender-neutral terms for students, during a news conference last week. He accused national news media outlets and social media of misrepresenting the issue and failing to base reports on facts.

The issue arose from training material handed out during a teacher meeting at Irving Middle School as teachers sought to better understand and address transgender students.

Irving teacher Julie Hunter told the board the training is necessary.

“Teachers have to have this stuff on their radar, not because we’re going to change society and we have this agenda, because society is changing before our eyes,” Hunter said.

But parent Courtney Criswell contended the training documents handed out at Irving go too far.

“This is not the new normal,” Criswell said. “We’ve been told that the school board will not be held hostage by those of us with different opinions. That’s not reflective of the inclusive culture that LPS wants to provide; quite the opposite. It is the parents who are being held hostage here.”

Parent John Cosby told school board members he wants more transparency about the training.

“LPS policy is to foster and facilitate parental information on the education of children,” according to Cosby. “However, LPS has made it abundantly clear that the LPS training materials on gender were not meant for parents.”

Lincoln public school teacher Todd Tystad said he doesn’t view training materials such as those on gender-inclusiveness as mandates, referring to one of the aspects of the training that caught national attention.

“I am not going to refer to my students as purple penguins, because that’s not the language that suits my style of communication,” Tystad said. “I’m fortunate enough to work for a school district that does not dictate how I shall refer to my students, but rather trusts my professional capabilities.”

The Lincoln public schools have 39,000 students. Superintendent Joel has said the district has issued no mandates or policy on the subject.

Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN contributed to this report.

School official denies Lincoln moving to gender-neutral classrooms (AUDIO)

Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel dismisses suggestions the school district is discarding the use of the terms “boys” and “girls” in favor of gender-neutral terms for students.

Joel has addressed the topic after a resource used at a Lincoln middle school surfaced that advocated such an approach.

Joel accuses national news media outlets of greatly distorting the issue.

“There’s no policy. There’s no procedure. There’s no changes being made to bathrooms in schools,” Joel tells reporters during a news conference to address the issue. “This was about adults, professional educators, who care deeply about trying to reach and establish relationships with children, looking for strategies on how they can be more effective in their classroom.”

Joel says school officials have been inundated with emails and phone calls after the story went national, both through social media and national cable news.

The superintendent explains that teachers at a middle school reviewed numerous documents as they sought to better understand and relate to transgender students. One document suggested doing away with using “boys” and “girls” to address students and, instead, creating a gender-neutral classroom.

“And the suggestion wasn’t to use any one particular name that we’re hearing on a regular basis, right now happens to be purple penguins, but what was suggested was to think about gender-neutral phrases that could be used: scholars, students, kids, Wildcats, whatever,” Joel explains. “And that’s been in practice in America for a lot of years.”

The Lincoln public schools have 39,000 students. Joel says the student population is becoming increasingly diverse. Teachers and administrators, according to Joel, are using a variety of resources in an effort to better relate to different students and to create an inviting environment for education.

Joel says the district has issued no mandates or policy on the subject.

Joel says the efforts by one middle school has nothing to do with politics or religion as some have suggested.

“It’s about creating an understanding and giving our teachers and our administrators the skills and the tools that they need to be successful with these students,” according to Joel.

Joel accuses national news media outlets and social media sites of misrepresenting the issue and failing to base reports on facts.

AUDIO:  Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel addresses “boys” and “girls” controversy. [9 minutes]