University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds says the possibilities in Nebraska attracted him to the position.
Bounds says he’s still in the listening phase, but knows he wants the university campuses to find the areas in which they can be the best in the world.
“As we would say on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, a rising tide lifts all boats,” Bounds tells Nebraska Radio Network in an interview. “And so, if you get to be best in the world in a handful of areas that lifts your ability to be really good in other areas.”
Those areas expand beyond agriculture, perhaps the obvious issue, into such areas as rural health care, early childhood development, transportation, and education.
Bounds comes to Nebraska from Mississippi where he served as Commissioner of Higher Education. He says the two systems are not all that similar. As commissioner, he oversaw the work of eight distinct universities. Here, Bounds oversees the work of four primary campuses with other satellite areas. He calls it one university with multiple campuses.
Bounds says he remains in the listening phase of his job, gathering information before settling on a vision for the university. He recently completed a tour of the state in which he met with those outside the university system, from state college presidents to high school students.
As for why he chose Nebraska, Bounds says he wanted to go somewhere where he could change the world.
“The more that I learn, the more time that I spent with researchers, with faculty, with staff, with students, with the general public the more excited I get about the possibilities that exist here.”
Bounds says he has been impressed by both the public and private support given the university. In wake of the great recession, most states cut back on higher education funding, some drastically. Bounds says that didn’t happen here and that doesn’t just reflect a strong economy, but also a strong commitment to post-high school education.
Bounds succeeds J.B. Milliken, who left to become the Chancellor of the City University of New York.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]