Grant Rohan, News Editor
With reporting by Kamrin Baker
“Access to Exceptional” was the theme throughout the day as students, faculty and Omaha community members gathered for the ceremonial investiture of Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., the thirteenth chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).
The ceremony celebrated Gold’s official installment as chancellor after being named interim chancellor of UNO in 2017. Thursday, Sept. 5 marked the first time UNO has celebrated this change in leadership in 13 years, with Gold now serving as chancellor of UNO and UNMC.
“It’s the community’s day,” Gold said. “It’s the official ceremonial turning of the page. You know, I get up every morning and go to sleep every night thinking about how great this community is and how privileged I am to be a part of it.”
Gold was joined on stage by members of the Nebraska University (NU) Board of Regents, Student Regents, UNO faculty and administrators, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Creighton University President Rev. Daniel Hendrickson.
Former Secretary of Defense and UNO alum Chuck Hagel attended the ceremony, speaking about Gold’s efforts in leading both UNO and UNMC to new heights. Hagel commented on Gold’s vision for UNO to expand beyond a commuter university, before ending with a “Go Mavericks!”
UNO student body president and student regent Aya Yousuf also commended Gold for his commitment to putting the success of students first in his role as chancellor. “UNO is undoubtedly in great hands,” Yousuf said.
Gold has led the way for UNO’s growth in community service, research and student success since taking over as chancellor. Fitting the theme of “Access to Exceptional,” Gold has helped expand facilities and opportunities for student growth, while fostering more collaboration with UNMC.
As a former pediatric cardiac surgeon, Gold has a way of seeing the human side of things—finding the heart of a person or a community and using his role to elevate the lives of others.
“I think the University of Nebraska is one of the best-kept secrets. It’s this magic blend of humility and pride,” Gold said. “To me, I look back at the things that have been most pivotal in my life, and to have the opportunity to meet the parent of a child who struggled in their education and meet that family at the time of graduation—I mean that’s the air under your wings.”
NU Interim President Susan Fritz spoke highly of Gold prior to the ceremony.
“He’s not only a big idea person, but he has the capacity to execute plans and get you to that idea,” Fritz said. “And besides that, there is just an incredible level of caring—caring about others, students, staff, faculty, and I appreciate that greatly.”
The new chancellor wrapped up the ceremony with a “mercifully brief” annual State of the University address. He highlighted improving students’ access to education, keeping focused on UNO’s mission and one day working toward eliminating the cost to higher education. Gold said his goals are to join access and accessibility together and make it possible for others’ dreams to come true.
“There are no greater advocates than our students,” Gold said. “I love walking through the gowning hall at commencement, and I get to shake hands with every one of them.”