Bennett joins IANR Roads Scholar Tour with stop in Scottsbluff

Bennett joins IANR Roads Scholar Tour with stop in Scottsbluff
New UNL Chancellor Rodney Bennett talks with reporters during a stop of the IANR Roads Scholar Tour at the Panhandle Research Education and Extension Center in Scottsbluff (Miller/KNEB/RRN)
August 4th, 2023 | Scott Miller

This year’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Roads Scholar tour stop in Scottsbluff included a special guest, UNL’s new Chancellor.

Rodney Bennett has been using the tour to hear Nebraskan’s thoughts on the future of the institution.

Speaking with reporters at the Panhandle Research Education and Extension Center, Bennett said those he’s met on the tour have been clear about how UNL can meet the needs of residents throughout the state. “The message has been consistent of making sure that we do not lose our fundamental commitment to ag and natural resources. That we are aggressive with thinking about where we are today, and what the future looks like,” said Bennett, “that we are thinking about the pipeline, that we’re having forward-looking thoughts about what the future looks like. I’ve heard that from the time we’ve left Lincoln until we have arrived here in the Panhandle.”

Bennett said like the rest of the NU system, there will be challenges re-imagining the future of the institution. He said he wants to make sure UNL and IANR can meet the goals of those missions on agriculture and natural resources as work on the budget progresses.

“That’s very important to me, and near the top of the list of my priorities. Also, growing enrollment is very important. We have to determine what size of institution we want to be, and then working across the state to make sure the pipeline of college-ready students is available; that we’re working with them, working with community college partners, and other institutions across the state, so that the pipeline does not suffer,” Bennett said.

Bennett said investing in graduate education is also important, and he’s pleased to see that the university has been drawing talent from across the nation and the world.

He says the institution needs to focus on the fundamentals that allow NU to be leader in agriculture and natural resources instruction and research, not only in the Big 10, but throughout the country.

Bennett started in his new position at the start of July, following the retirement of former UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green. He said his style includes getting out of the office to get a more in-depth understanding of the workings of the institution, whether in Lincoln or at University facilities around the state.

“It’s really about developing relationships with the people doing the work every day, relationships with the Legislature, with our federal delegation,” said Bennett. “Early in my career… a gentleman told me that I worked for is that the best administrators are the ones who don’t sit behind the desk every day, but who get out and look at things for which they are responsible for. Interact with the people, touch it, smell it, taste it, whatever it is you’re supposed to do. So I was not going to allow the opportunity to be on the road with IANR for a week and not take that opportunity to see the people, learn more about the communities, and use that in a way to make better decisions for the state, University system, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.”


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