Jon Watts new UNK Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance

KEARNEY – Following a national search, University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen today announced the appointment of Jon Watts as the University’s new Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance.

Jon Watts headshotWatts, of Kearney, was among five finalists for the position, and currently is UNK’s director of business services and accounts payable. Pending approval of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, the appointment is effective June 1.

Watts came to UNK in 2010 and has served as assistant director of business services, prior to becoming director in 2013. Before joining UNK, he was manager of marketing, key accounts and public relations at Intralot Inc.

Watts’ degrees are from UNL in communication studies (bachelor’s) and management (master’s) from Bellevue University.

“Jon’s dedication to UNK and Kearney, his work ethic, his communication and leadership skills stood out from the other candidates, and I’m pleased he has accepted my challenge to lead UNK as our chief business officer,” Kristensen said.

UNK’s Business and Finance division manages the university’s financial operations to support and promote academic excellence, fiscal responsibility, and public accountability. Within the division are the offices of Business Services, Budget, Facilities Management and Planning, Finance, Human Resources, Emergency Management, Police and Parking, and contracted providers that include Chartwells Food Service and Antelope Bookstore. The Vice Chancellor advises the chancellor, oversees the operations of the division and works with the university’s central administration to plan and carry out financial operations, set rates and fees, and plan for construction and facilities maintenance, including the new University Village project.

Watts said UNK is a significant part of both his professional and personal life and it’s a privilege to serve as vice chancellor.

“I am excited to continue working with the university community and to be a part of the leadership team in this new role,” he said. “The future is bright for UNK and I am proud to support our leadership, faculty, students and staff by helping provide the best possible environment for success through collaboration, knowledgeable decisions, creativity and careful stewardship of our resources.”

Watts has been a member of the Kearney Public Schools Board of Education and its Foundation since 2013, is a member of Yanney Heritage Park Foundation, and was a participant in Leadership Kearney (2013). He received the Kearney Chamber of Commerce Young Professional of the Year award in 2012 and was campaign co-chair for Buffalo County Community Partners in 2014. On campus, he advises students working on Campus Kitchen, Brewed Awakening, Big Blue Cupboard, and is an ex officio member of Kearney University Village Facility Development Corp. He has earned the designation Certified Auxiliary Services Professional.

Watts’ salary will be $170,000. He replaces Barbara Johnson, who was vice chancellor from 2007-2016. Jane Sheldon, assistant vice chancellor, has been serving as interim vice chancellor since January.


Writer: Kelly Bartling, Assistant Vice Chancellor, 308.865.8455,
Interviews of Watts can be arranged: Jon Watts, 308.865.8431