By Jackson Taylor, News Editor
After a long and much-anticipated wait, the University of Nebraska school system has a new president. After two hours of closed session, Hank Bounds was unanimously selected by the NU Board of Regents on Jan. 12.
Bounds, 47, previously served as commissioner of higher education in the state of Mississippi. A first-generation college graduate, Bounds has been a Mississippi educator nearly all his life. He served in the military and has two children, 10 and 13. Nearly a year after former president J.B. Milliken announced his upcoming departure, Bounds will take over in April. His family will follow once his children finish the school year.
The NU Board of Regents described Bounds as everything they were looking for in a president, noting that he has an understanding how to work with several key constituents: the agriculture industry, the legislature and university donors.
During his interview, Bounds said he held a strong belief that NU could be a giant in higher education. He said a focus on attracting the best faculty and staff and improving opportunities for student success would bring this goal to life. “The first 60 days or so are really going to be learning about all things Nebraska,” Bounds said.
Here are a few of Bounds’ Accomplishments as Commissioner of Higher Education, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning:
– Increased enrollment every year for a total of 13.3 percent Increased degrees awarded every year for a total of 11.4 percent – –
– Increased system-wide budget by 25 percent Provided oversight and direction for private fundraising in excess of $250 million per year
– Created a process that allows student government leaders to participate in board meetings and policy decision making
– Led the effort to increase faculty compensation Created the Office of Business and University Relations to foster relationships among researchers, business/industry and economic developers
– Established internal audit function for all campuses Secured the first-ever multi-year bond commitment from the legislature
– Led the effort to recruit and employ six university presidents Mentored three cabinet members who have become presidents
– Designed a balanced scorecard for the Academic Health Science Center
– Implemented a comprehensive diversity initiative which has led to increased diversity in faculty/staff, students, and use of minority vendors
– Designed an efficiencies plan that saved the system more than $90 million.
-Primary focus areas include consolidated insurance coverage, bond rating, energy conservation, procurement, course redesign, space management and employee benefits consolidation
– Led the effort to design and implement a singular, statewide articulation agreement with state community colleges
– Partnered with Teach For America to establish an on-campus teacher leadership institute The Board of Regents was impressed with Bounds’ resume and attracted to the fact that Bounds is young enough to serve as president for at least 10 years.
Bounds will bring in a salary of $500 thousand, a $79 thousand increase from what Milliken made. Newly elected Gov. Pete Ricketts was quick to congratulate Bounds the night of Bounds’ election. “I look forward to working together with him to build on the strong foundation that President Milliken laid for the institution,” Ricketts said.