Staff Editorial: UNO Chancellor’s Twitter presence a missed opportunity for interaction


By Gateway Staff

University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Chancellor John Christensen has a Twitter account.

This is fairly standard for university leaders, and most people in general. What’s a bit odd about the @Christensen_je account, however, is that while it is the online presence of the University’s most visible and highest-ranking figure, it gives off a distinctly unprofessional vibe.

For starters, the account is an “egg account”. Having no profile or header picture, the visual representation limited to Twitter’s default “egg” image. And the account isn’t verified, which means unless the person viewing the account takes it upon themselves to connect the dots and trust other university accounts that interact with him, it’s impossible to know if it is actually Chancellor Christensen.

There’s also nothing in the account’s “Bio” section. No location, either. Without context, or even with context, this looks like a dormant Twitter account made years ago.

The format of the tweets themselves also leaves confusion. Use of twitter’s “Mention” feature seem erroneous. Scrolling through the account’s replies reveals several tweets where the “@” name blends into the message, failing to tag the recipient.

It appears almost every tweet on the Chancellor’s feed is erroneous in this way, and they all end with the phrase “Go Mavs” regardless of context.

This sort of thing isn’t exactly unremarkable for twitter users who aren’t social media savvy. But what is unexpected is for it to occur and yet still be promoted as if it’s his professional account.

It would be one thing if the content of the Chancellor’s feed was personal, but the lion’s share of activity is interaction with official school accounts and university figures.

Chancellor Christensen’s representation on social media reflects on the school and the administration should better assure the school’s reflection. Is there no one in any of the different administrative departments who has noticed this yet? Or have they, but have done nothing about it?

It’s hard to understand why the account is handled the way it is when Harvey Perlman, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Chancellor, has a phenomenal Twitter. Perlman’s account boasts nearly 14,000 followers, and posts good pictures and tweets that engage with students on a humorous basis.

For a high school senior pondering his next move, Perlman makes UNL look more appealing on social media than Christensen does for UNO.

Christensen’s twitter issues illustrate a bigger problem. As Chancellor, it often appears that he struggles to show engagement in a genuine way. Like the twitter account, whose activity solely consists of replying to other university accounts with “Go Mavs”, Christensen’s appearances around the university seem to show a similar lack of depth.

It’s tough to find the Chancellor out and about aside from commuting, without being accompanied by university communications or cameras, barring sporting and other pre planned events. Christensen’s public persona, like his “egg account” twitter, can come across as very impersonal.

Without Christensen, it’s certain that Baxter Arena would not exist. As students, we owe so much to the leadership of our school, and the exciting ambition that brings facilities like the arena, Caniglia Field, the Community Engagement Center, and other remarkable accomplishments that genuinely enhance our experience.

It’s impossible to question Christensen and the administration on their achievements. But the lack of transparency and genuine interaction creates a breeding ground for questions. How do we actually know if Chancellor Christensen is a good chancellor when the administration can’t seem to communicate it? How are we to properly value their contributions when they fail to interact with us about them?

In the broader context of the University, complaining about a single twitter account may seem petty. But in 2015, social media interaction is a crucial way a school can communicate and interact effectively with their student body and represent themselves to the community in general.

The Chancellor could appear more personal, more involved, and more transparent with a well-managed Twitter account, without sacrificing authenticity. And the fact that our school’s leader doesn’t have one, or really any significant social media presence, betrays a disappointing missed opportunity for the University administration in general, and perhaps a certain systematic lack of meaningful, visible interaction.