The Global University

President James B. Milliken
University of Nebraska

The University of Nebraska has a long and rich history of international engagement. Our faculty and administrators have always recognized the ways in which experiences with diverse cultures, countries and languages enrich the lives of students, faculty and citizens.

As we celebrate International Education Week, we all recognize that today’s world is different – increasingly interconnected, interdependent and insecure. But we have unprecedented opportunities to collaborate to find solutions to global problems including hunger, disease and poverty, and we have growing global markets for our ideas, goods and services. There are serious violent conflicts in many parts of the world, but we may be in a better position than ever to work together and build new partnerships to address inequities and help reduce the risk of war and international terrorism.

The United States will continue to play a leading role in the world, and whether we do that wisely will depend in significant part on the education of our citizens—an education that more than any time in history requires an understanding of the rest of our small planet and respect for the peoples of the world.

No one understands this imperative better than our faculty, who play a critical role in educating the rising generation of global citizens. With their leadership and encouragement, we are making a renewed commitment to global engagement at the University of Nebraska. New international initiatives exist on each of our campuses, and international engagement is one of the major goals of the University of Nebraska Foundation’s “Unlimited Possibilities” capital campaign. Our success in these ambitious efforts will require a significant investment of private funds, and we believe donors increasingly recognize and support the importance of this success. We have identified four University-wide objectives to position the University of Nebraska as a leader in global engagement, and to offer our students, faculty and the people of Nebraska the opportunities we believe are important to achieving this position:

1) We plan to provide the opportunity for every undergraduate to have a meaningful academic experience abroad.  We must encourage students from more disciplines to pursue international study,  promote longer and more meaningful international experiences, and encourage faculty to raise the
bar for international engagement—in the classroom, in developing study abroad programs, and in their own research and in scholarly activity. The University should offer our students the same kinds of opportunities that would be available to them in leading institutions anywhere in the country. This should not be considered a luxury or be available only to those whose families can afford it.

2) We plan to double international student enrollment at the University of Nebraska.   International students add millions to the state’s economy, but of course the real value is in the richness of the experience gained by having students from around the world on our campuses and in our communities. This year, 128 countries are represented in the 2800 international students enrolled on our campuses. I hope we can double the number of international students on our campuses by 2019, the University’s 150th birthday.

3) We plan to significantly increase opportunities for faculty to collaborate with colleagues around the world. As important as it is for students to pursue international study and be exposed to international students on our campuses, it is equally important that faculty have the opportunity to pursue their scholarly work in the world of knowledge, which certainly doesn’t end at our borders. We will support a new emphasis on mutually beneficial collaborations, exchanges and partnerships.

4) We plan to renew our commitment to work with countries and institutions around the world.  To serve the interests of the University and our state, but also our nation, we will continue to develop strategic partnerships abroad in fields critical to mutual well-being. The University has a rich history in working with developing nations to help address challenges in education, agriculture, medicine and many other fields. We can serve both state and national interests through involvement in sponsored work in the
developing world where we have much to offer, as well increase our mutually beneficial partnerships in developed countries.

These strategies support the University’s goals of providing a high quality 21st century education, building leading academic programs, contributing to the innovation economy in Nebraska, and contributing to health, stability and well-being in the world. This is an exciting time for the University of Nebraska, and efforts to significantly increase the level of engagement in the world will offer tremendous benefits to our students, faculty and citizens.