University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman delivered the annual State of the University address, saying the state and university face great opportunity and increasing demands for accountability.
“We serve Nebraska in our role of producing and attracting talent and in supporting and generating economic growth,” Perlman stated. “Never has the state been better positioned to utilize its natural advantages with our help to successfully compete in the world’s economy.”
Perlman said the university is in a position to help spur economic growth and become involved in providing solutions to the many problems the country faces.
He said he wants the 21st Century to be thought of as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s golden age.
“We have been driven by the ambitious growth goals we set for the university two years ago,” Perlman told the audience gathered at the Lied Center in downtown Lincoln. “Frankly, I under-estimated the infrastructure we would have to build and the level of new activities we would have to undertake in order to move the enrollment needle.”
While the Lincoln campus welcomed a record number of freshmen, overall enrollment barely grew. Freshmen enrollment this fall topped 4,400, a 12% increase. The Lincoln campus overall grew by one percent, total enrollment now at 24,445.
Enrollment growth, according to Perlman, is necessary to fulfilling the aggressive goals the university has set.
Perlman acknowledged the university has come under increasing scrutiny.
“Universities face increasing pressures to hold themselves accountable to the students and the public they serve,” according to Perlman. “We can no longer shoot first and call whatever we hit our target.”
Perlman said accountability extends beyond addressing the $2 million deficit imposed last year and an increase of $570,000 in operating costs on campus without affecting academic performance. He said it also includes helping prepare students not just for that first job, but for a meaningful career that contributes to the progress of society.