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Nebraska City News-Press - Nebraska City, NE
  • Update: Schafer talks about UN president search, Board of Regents race

  • The biggest issue facing the Board of Regents is finding a new University of Nebraska president, said Regent Robert M. Schafer of Beatrice in an interview with the News-Press during a stop in Nebraska City.
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  • UPDATE: The following corrections should be noted for the story, as submitted by Robert Schafer:
    1.      I am the only candidate that is involved in daily production agriculture
    2.      I am not employed as a vice-president of Pinnacle Bank as that would be my wife, Andrea.
    3.      I am a lawyers, farmer and staff judge advocate in the Nebraska Air National Guard.
     
    The biggest issue facing the Board of Regents is finding a new University of Nebraska president, said Regent Robert M. Schafer of Beatrice in an interview with the News-Press during a stop in Nebraska City.
    Schafer was appointed to fill the District 5 position held by Lavon Heidemann when he left the post to accept the position of lieutenant governor. Schafer, a Republican, is running for election to the post.
    “We had a great leader in (President J.B.) Milligan,” said Schafer. “Finding a replacement is a big task.”
    The process will take 6-12 months “depending on the quality of candidates,” said Schafer.
    The candidate field will be narrowed to about four finalists that will be named to the public. Public input is encouraged, said Schafer, adding that the Board of Regents wants to know what the public wants from the University and its future.
    Currently the search for a new president is in the screening process with a committee comprised of a variety of “stakeholders” participating.
    By early fall, Schafer said that the screening and selection committee should be ready to narrow the field of applicants to the finalists.
    He said it is important to make the university accessible to all through online classes, satellite classes and outreach programs. A diversity of programs is important he said, and noted in particular the University of Nebraska High School program, which provides another option for taking high school classes that might not be available locally.
    Schafer said he has enjoyed serving as a regent and wants to continue to serve. He said he has a unique set of qualities, including being “by far the youngest” regent. With kids ages 4-7, Schafer said he is “looking to the future” and from a different perspective. He said he is one of two candidates with careers directly related to production agriculture, which he said is important since UN is a land grant university.
    Page 2 of 2 - He said his military career has also been a benefit as he is able to relate military policies to the university setting.
    He said it is also important to have a veteran’s presence on the Board of Regents.
    “The University is a big part of educating veterans for the workforce,” he said. And attracting veterans to the Nebraska labor force is a key goal of the state chamber, he said.
    The bottom line is that the university provide a great education at an affordable cost, said Schafer. “We must constantly look at ways to decrease adminstration and bureaucratic costs and reduce redundancies between colleges and campuses,” he said.
    Although Schafer said education is first, research plays a key role in the University as well, and partnerships with organizations such as the Department of Defense are key.
    Schafer is vice president of Pinnacle Bank, member of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and a member of several state and local organizations. He also has served on numerous Bar Association committees.
    Also seeking the District 5 seat are Steve Glenn of Pawnee City and Robert J. Prokop of Wilber. The primary election will narrow the field from three to two for the general election.

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