CLOSE CENTER OF CLAY – Ronnie Green can still imagine what Clay Center looked like years ago.
Driving into town on Wednesday after turning off US Highway 6, Green, now chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, felt back in his element.
“I know those buildings and I know those people,” Green said with a smile. “I remember what it looked like in 1985 and how much it has changed and how much it is still the same.”
Wednesday was something of a homecoming for Green, who completed her UNL co-doctoral program at the Roman L. Hruska US Meat Animal Research Center and later raised children in Sutton.
“I have a lot of personal history here,” he said.
Green travels on the road throughout the state, meeting with university administrators and leaders at various campuses where UNL houses education programs.
The Chancellor visited USMARC, where he has “a long history”, ahead of scheduled stops in North Platte, Curtis, Ogallala and Scottsbluff. Then he and his wife, Clay County native Jane Pauley Green, will spend the holiday weekend near Fort Robinson.
“This is the first time in a few years that I’ve really had a chance to get out in the state and really see some of these sites,” Green said. “I’m really looking forward to it…I really like being able to get out in the state and see our people working in the state and seeing what’s going on at the sites.”
Before meeting local media, Green spent most of Wednesday touring his former stomping ground, where he expanded his extensive agricultural knowledge and further diversified his background before leading a university with more than 25,000 students and 6,000 faculty and staff – which he has been doing since 2016.
“I have a little different mix of experiences than most university leaders,” he said.
The proof was on her pair of dress shoes; the bottoms were covered with dried mud. The rest of his suit and tie, however, were spotless.
“It was a very informal visit,” Green said.
“It was kind of fun. We drove to the feedlot here and the research feedlot and looked at the paddocks where the cattle were when I had two summers of cattle paddocks with which we worked in. It was my first involvement with USMARC.
Green was accompanied by research center director Mark Boggess, his old friend and colleague. The couple had lunch at Baby’s Backyard BBQ at Clay Center.
“That was awesome, by the way,” Green said with a smile.
Certainly, with his myriad responsibilities, Green cannot dedicate as much time or energy to his passion for animal and agricultural research as he once did as a student and then a university faculty member. of Texas Tech and the State of Colorado, Program Leader for Animal Research. research in production at the USDA, executive secretary at the National Science and Technology Council and global director of Pfizer in animal genomics.
But his foundation in research helped lead the UNL.
“I’m a bit of an unusual person in the role I play,” Green said. “Most university leaders tend to come from the university system.”
Professionally, Green has moved from education to private industry to government and education.
“The research journey…has been extremely helpful in understanding how to be a university administrator and fulfill the role that I play. It’s such an important part of our mission as an institution, it’s research that we do.”
He spoke of the importance of recognizing “what’s in your garden”.
For Nebraskans, in particular, it means understanding that there is a world-class animal research center located in the south-central part of the state.
“This is the most important livestock research center in the world,” Green said. “It’s been decades. It’s easy to lose sight of that… There was a reason why I came here to do my doctorate, because it was very important.
“The research work that has gone through this place dates back to the 1970s… The basis of much of the change in livestock around the world has come from the research that has been done here. And it continues until today.
During the relaxed media session, Green declined to comment on the university’s current search to replace outgoing athletic director Bill Moos. Green said the search was on track and there were plenty of qualified candidates.
Green addressed the changing landscape of college athletics, which revolves around impending changes to the law on the name, image and likeness of college athletes.
As of July 1, Nebraska is now one of the states that will allow athletes to take advantage of their NIL with individual sponsorships unrelated to the university and only the athlete’s brand.
Green said the UNL welcomes the upcoming changes and has been “proactive in this space.”
The university has partnered with Lincoln-based marketing agency Opendorse, which “maximizes endorsement value for athletes.”
“We’re excited about this for (the Nebraska athletes), and I think in the next few months we’re going to see a lot of exciting things happening across the country as this goes into effect,” said Green.
Coming out of the pandemic, Green noted that UNL is one of the few universities in good financial shape, especially in athletics.
Additionally, this fall, students will have the opportunity to register their vaccination status with the university as well as any previous contractions of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
Vaccinated students and faculty who signed up will have their names on drawings for various awards, “incentivizing people to get vaccinated and rewarding those who get vaccinated,” Green said.
Unvaccinated students will need to be tested once a week.
“We did a similar thing last spring,” Green said, saying (rapid) PCR tests will be provided. “It was really successful.
“It is our intention to move into the fall as a way to protect the campus.”
If the university reaches a certain low percentage of positive tests — and Green said he couldn’t provide a specific value yet — then the tests would shift to a more random pattern “to make sure we continue to see no the virus on campus. ”