Skepticism is fair, but Chancellor Gold is handling dual leadership well

Chancellor Jeffrey Gold became UNO’s chancellor in addition to UNMC’s in April 2017. Photo courtesy of UNO Communications

Taylor Timberlake

After many months of searching for the new chancellor of UNO and UNMC nothing came up. The board’s, chair members and search committees found nothing substantial. As Jeffrey Gold, Chancellor of UNO and UNMC (with more credentials than could be fit on this page) explained, it was partly attributed “to the relative instability of the budget of UNO.”

Finally, they came up with solution: have one chancellor for both schools. Gold, with his outstanding record, was the obvious fit, so in April of 2017 it was publicly announced that Gold would hold the title of Chancellor for both UNO and UNMC.  It cut the $500,000 salary in half.

This joint appointment was something brand new for the state of Nebraska. However, most of the country has seen something of the sort and the university is looking towards the future for new and inventive ways to expand our horizons.

The benefits of this joint appointment are apparent. The budget of each school found ways to save money. Gold even denied any raise in salary, sticking to the UNMC chancellor’s pay even though he committed to two schools.

Jim Sutfin, superintendent of Millard public Schools, said that joining forces allows for “combining some of the support that is there for faculty and staff is helpful because that means you can target your dollars towards customers in which you’re serving, and in this case it’s the students.”

This joint appointment also makes communication between the schools much easier, the chancellor has unlimited access to both schools and can get everybody “hooked up” with the right connection. With one senior leader, decisions on both campuses tend to be more efficient.

“With both of our resources we can probably get more grants more funding, and go at things together,” said Thomas Walker, business analyst in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. This means more opportunities for students at their respective University.

“We’re trying to strengthen each of the campuses brand value and brand identity, and at the same time looking for ways we can work more closely together to produce new opportunities for students, faculty, and staff,” Gold said.

While there are many benefits to this joint appointment there are a few things to be wary about. A few jobs higher up have been consolidated, which means individual representatives from each school have been let go as a way to fill one role versus two.

“We do have less senior leadership, now we don’t have a focused business and finance here that only advocates for UNO,” Walker said.

Not only that, but attention could be split from either school as they don’t have their own chancellor, and there are only 24 hours in a day. Running one university is hard enough, but two seems close to impossible.

All that being said, I feel this is an overall good choice. I had a chance to interview Chancellor Gold and it was an amazing experience. We talked about his role and how he felt about the progress made since the initial days of the joint appointment. He was very engaged, honest, and dedicated to each one of his students, including me.

Not only was I impressed, but countless others I spoke to feel the same way. While I can understand and respect skepticism, I have a lot of confidence in Gold and his leadership.

As for the possible full future merger of UNO and UNMC, Dr. Sutfin said, “I don’t have any comment on that,” so stayed tuned for developments.