Chancellor calls students explorers, risk takers in State of the University address


By Travis Wood

The University of Nebraska at Omaha Chancellor John Christensen delivered the annual State of the University address last Monday.

Chancellor Christensen first emphasized the pride and spirit found at the university, before delving into topics that included the current state of affairs on campus, student involvement and sports.

“If you walk around UNO today you will feel the pride and the momentum thriving in this place we call home,” Christensen said. “The spirit among students, faculty and staff is unlike anything I have witnessed in my 40 years as a Maverick.”

Christensen said students, alumni, faculty and staff make up the Maverick family. He called them “independent thinkers” “explorers” and “risk takers,” and now the number of Mavericks is on the rise.

This year’s incoming freshman class was the largest in UNO’s history. The number of graduate students rose by 10 percent, first year students by 8.5 percent and transfer students by 8 percent. Christensen also said the current student body is 25 percent racially diverse, 44 percent are first generation students and 10 percent are in the military.

Student Government member Caroline Sojka said the student body is growing larger because of UNO’s sense of inclusion and opportunity.

“I think the student population and diversity are growing because UNO is making a name for itself around the Omaha community and the globe,” Sojka said. “UNO offers opportunities for involvement and mobility in organizations and jobs on campus that some students would lose if they went to a larger university.”

Christensen expressed his satisfaction about the newly opened Baxter Arena as well, and how it adds to campus and community living.

Christensen said the facility embodies the completion of UNO four-year transition into Division I and he praised the team’s performance.

Christensen also mentioned the renovation of the Student Union facility and the growing prominence of the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center. In addition, external funding for research and scholarly engagement has raised around $20 million. However, when talking about on-campus development, Christensen said the UNO campus goes beyond preconceived borders.

“One of the chancellor’s best comments was that our campus has no bounds, the city is our campus,” said Emily Bradley, a member of Student Government. “I believe that’s appealing to students because they don’t just want to go to school, they want to be a part of something larger.”

Bradley said students should take note of the State of the University address because it offers them a chance to be a part of the university and its changes.

“They should be there to recognize the people who worked hard to make amazing things happen, such as Baxter Arena,” Bradley said. “This school is all about the students, so the students should be there to support the school.”

Christensen closed by looking toward the future and welcomed ideas and input for the “vision of tomorrow’s UNO.”

“The Maverick family is on the move, and that momentum is about our students and community,” Christensen said. “We are only in the early rounds of fighting to create a bright future for all.”