State of the University address: Christensen delivers final address

Photo Courtesy of
Photo Courtesy of

Jessica Wade

University of Nebraska at Omaha Chancellor John Christensen delivered his 11th and final State of the University address on Nov. 1. In his optimistic and, at times, emotional speech, Christensen discussed the success of the past and the possibilities of a bright future for the university.

“We are incredibly strong and ready for a new chapter of leadership with a future full of potential and opportunity for our students.”

“The future, not only for our students and our city, but for UNO is very bright,” Christensen said. “Of that, I am certain.”

Named interim chancellor in 2006, Christensen replaced Chancellor Nancy Belck, whose financial mishaps created controversy.

Christensen has dedicated nearly 40 years to the university and is the first alumnus to serve as chancellor.

Christensen said that within the next 10 years he hopes to see the university further collaborate with community organizations and businesses, expand educational research and service and “that we grow an already remarkable collaborative, interdisciplinary and highly-engaged Maverick family.”

“We are incredibly strong and ready for a new chapter of leadership with a future full of potential and opportunity for our students,” Christensen said.

Christensen has served as Chancellor for 10 years, within that decade UNO has undergone many changes, including:

• The university received a Doctoral and Research classification from the Carnegie Institute.
• The completion of projects like the Baxter Arena and Biomechanics Research Building.
• UNO athletics made the move to Division I.
• Largest graduate enrollment in a decade in 2016 with over 3,000 students.
• Approximately 5,000 undergraduates each year are first-generation students, making up nearly half of the undergraduate population.
• Maintaining the lowest tuition and fees of 15 Nebraska 4-year institutions and the most affordable metropolitan university compared with our national peers.
• Creating the Dreamers Pathway Scholarship College program, supporting undocumented students.
• Celebrating national recognition by our students in such areas as forensics, public relations, aviation, athletics and that list goes on.
• Having been named, for two consecutive years, the “most military friendly” university in the country

Christensen plans to step down in late June; University President Hank Bounds continues his nation-wide search for Christensen’s successor.

“I will tell you, it’s hard to fathom time could move so quickly. It is a universal fact: the more you love something, the faster time goes,” Christensen said. “That is certainly the case for me and my time at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.”

At the end of his speech, Christensen thanked his family and his “extended Maverick family.”

“Thank you for an incredible journey,” Christensen said.

Christensen walked off the stage to a standing ovation, and the applause of nearly 400 faculty members and students.