Hank Bounds Q&A: NU president says UNK gets students where they need, want to go in life

“When you become a Loper, you really become part of a community, and that connection lasts forever.” – Hank Bounds

Hub Staff Writer

KEARNEY — As president of the University of Nebraska system, Hank Bounds leads all four of its campuses, including the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The Kearney Hub asked President Bounds to share his educated, unique views on the campus and what’s been happening here. He also shared some advice for new students who will be arriving on the campus in August.

Hub: UNK drew more than 6,600 students in 2017, according to enrollment numbers from the university. What do you think draws students to UNK?

Bounds: Students know that when they enroll at UNK, they matter. They’re going to receive personalized, caring, dedicated instruction and support from the faculty and staff on campus, and they’re going to have a chance to work side-by-side with the best teachers and researchers in the business. Once you set foot on campus, you know there’s something special about UNK, and I think that’s an immediate draw for students and families. You sense that when you become a Loper, you really become part of a community, and that connection lasts forever. Not only that, but the educational facilities are second-to-none. The health science complex, the new STEM building coming up — these facilities are as outstanding as I’ve seen anywhere.

Hub: UNK has a variety of ongoing projects, from plans to create a new entrance to building the new University Village. What development at UNK are you personally most excited about?

Bounds: It’s hard to pick just one project when there’s so many exciting developments on campus. One common thread that I find especially remarkable is that almost all of them are possible because of partnerships. Take the new STEM building. We’re able to build a state-of-the-art facility like this because the Legislature recognized the critical importance of partnering with the university to invest in high-quality learning spaces for our students. State senators deserve our thanks. The STEM building is going to be a game-changer for Nebraska’s workforce, in high-need areas for our state like computer science and information technology, where we know we need more talent. The health science complex, a partnership between the university, the Legislature, the private sector and the Kearney community, is another great example. What this says is that Nebraskans recognize that UNK and the entire university are key to the economic success of the state, and they want to be a part of helping us grow for the future.

Hub: Though UNL and UNO are located in eastern Nebraska, the more metropolitan areas of Nebraska, UNK sits in the middle of the state in a relatively rural area. What kind of benefit do you believe UNK has made and continues to make in rural Nebraska?

Bounds: UNK’s impact on our state is undeniable. I think of UNK as the hub of education and research for rural Nebraska. We’ve done an economic impact analysis that shows that UNK grows Nebraska’s economy by $230 million every year. But, of course, dollars and cents only measure so much. UNK impacts the trajectory of young peoples’ lives in so many ways. We’re talking about opening the door to a university education to 6,600 students each year who may not otherwise have that opportunity. Many of these students are the first in their families to attend college, and most of them stay in Nebraska to grow our economy and strengthen our communities. That kind of impact is long-lasting and significant. Rural Nebraska would not be what it is today without UNK.

The above story is published in the Kearney Hub’s annual UNK Today section.

To read the full story, visit Hank Bounds

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