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University’s Economic Impact Growing

(Lincoln, NE 3/29/19) The University of Nebraska’s impact on the state’s economy is significant and growing.  That’s the conclusion of a researcher who repeated a study he did four years ago.  Paul Umbach told the Board of Regents Friday that the previous impact figure of $3.9 Billion has grown to $4.5 billion.  In addition, he said, the impact of N-U graduates who remain in Nebraska, and work and pay taxes through a career can be estimated at another $2 billion.  The figure also doesn’t include the impact of the University’s Medical Center, which will be the subject of a study to be released in the near future.

The school’s impact, from goods and services purchased, research grants received and spent, and payrolls, amounts to approximately $12 million per day.

Umbach said the biggest single field in which the University impacts the state is in Health Care.  “70 % of the state’s health professionals are graduates of the University” he said.  Overall one out of seven of the state’s adults are N-U Alumni

SALARIES HOLDING UP TECH BUILD

The University has a goal of increasing the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) graduates it produces, to meet the demand of businesses.  It also has a goal of keeping a greater percentage of its graduates in Nebraska for their careers.  Both goals are made difficult by low salaries.  University Engineering Dean Lance Perez told the Board of Regents Friday that, although it has added Faculty members in the past year, it has had trouble competing with other schools for top talent.

“It is not uncommon for an Assistant Professor in Software Engineering or Computer Engineering to get an offer of $120 to $130 thousand dollars for nine months” said Perez.  “Last year we were offering $94 thousand for that same position.”

Perez said that building the enrollment and faculty of the Engineering College will play a key role in Nebraska’s economic development, but the State is losing graduates to places where salaries are higher.

Tim Burkink, Dean of Cyber Programs at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, and Hesham Ali, Dean of the College of Information Science & Technology at UNO, both agreed that it’s hard to help fill thousands of jobs open in the State when the University has a capacity to produce only hundreds of graduates in high demand programs each year.

PRESIDENT SEARCH STUDIED

The Board of Regents held a discussion Friday about how to replace President Hank Bounds, who announced earlier this week that he’ll leave that post by the end of summer.

“The good thing is that we have a long ramp” said Regents Chairman Tim Clare.  “We all agree that we are going to take our time, have another discussion, and answer all our questions before deciding how to go about it.”  Clare said the University has tremendous momentum right now, with increasing enrollment and a growing economic impact on the State.  “Our first goal is to maintain that momentum and make sure the State knows what a good job the University is doing.”

Bounds was hired after a national search that resulted in campus visits by four finalists.  Previously, he was Commissioner of Higher Education in Mississippi.  In his announcement Monday, Bounds said he’s spent the last 20 years in administration and wants to spend more time with his family.

Clare said the Regents may follow the same process as they did four years ago when Bounds was hired, but will take their time before deciding on the best approach.


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