University of Nebraska President Ted Carter, at right, leads an NU Board of Regents meeting on June 22, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA — Barring a last-minute change of heart on either side, the University of Nebraska will need a new president soon.
NU system President Ted Carter, the former superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy and a vice admiral, is expected to be named the next president at The Ohio State University in Columbus.
UPDATE: The Ohio State Board of Trustees did name Carter as the university’s next president during their Tuesday meeting.
Multiple people who have been informed this week of Carter’s pending departure confirmed the hiring to the Nebraska Examiner.
“Yes, he is gone,” one university leader said.
“It’s true, what you heard,” an elected official said.
“You’re not wrong,” a state official said.
Members of the NU Board of Regents reached Tuesday either declined to comment or did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Representatives of the University of Nebraska system did not immediately return calls or messages seeking comment.
Helped bridge political divide
Carter just received a positive evaluation and notice for his work during the 2022-23 academic year, including notice that he would receive a $144,000 bonus.
The regents cited his work boosting a private fundraising campaign to raise $3 billion, his efforts to secure more state funding for NU than Gov. Jim Pillen, a former regent, proposed in his first state budget. They also mentioned increased research funding and improved retention rates for young students.
Carter said he would donate that bonus to charity, partly because the university’s campuses in Curtis, Kearney, Lincoln and Omaha are coping with a $58 million budget shortfall, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
The NU president helped launch the Nebraska Promise program that helped low- and middle-income Nebraskans attend NU tuition-free. He has been working on a five-year plan to improve the university system. He also helped the campus navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carter made waves in Nebraska with his ability to persuade conservative and liberal constituencies about the value of investing state and private resources in higher education, several political observers said.
But the state has changed since he arrived in January 2020. A more conservative Legislature increasingly puts university spending and actions in the political crosshairs. including public spats between former Gov. Pete Ricketts and former University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green.
Carter also defended academic freedom in 2021 when Pillen, then a member of the NU Board of Regents running for governor, tried to pass a resolution banning the imposition of critical race theory on NU campuses. The resolution failed.
Carter has answered some of those changes by trading on the trust he had earned and, as his critics explained, consolidating power in the president’s office.
The most recent example came in June, when the NU Board of Regents unanimously moved final decision-making authority over Husker athletics under Carter instead of under the UNL chancellor.
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