Ellis selected as UNK graduate studies dean

Mark Ellis
Mark Ellis

KEARNEY – Following a national search, Mark Ellis has been selected as dean of graduate studies at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The announcement was made today by UNK Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Charlie Bicak and is pending approval by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. Ellis is a Ron and Carol Cope Professor of History at UNK and has been serving as interim dean of graduate studies since summer 2018.

“I appreciate the opportunity UNK gave me to serve as interim dean of graduate studies during the current academic year and I am thrilled to continue leading graduate studies as the permanent dean,” Ellis said. “There are a lot of exciting things going on in graduate studies at UNK and we are poised to begin building new programs, strengthening existing programs and enhancing the graduate student experience.”

Ellis has been involved in academic administration for more than a decade. He served as a graduate program chair from 2006-13 and history department chair starting in 2013. Under his guidance, the UNK history graduate program grew from a small residential program to one of the largest and noteworthy online history graduate programs in the nation. Since adding an online option to its graduate program, the history department has admitted more than 400 students and it graduates on average 40 students annually.

“Mark has vast experience in graduate education. He has designed and taught 23 graduate-only courses, advised 54 graduate thesis projects and twice been awarded the Graduate Student Mentor of the Year Award,” Bicak said. “Under his leadership we will continue to make great strides in addressing the postgraduate education expectations of professionals in Nebraska, across the nation and around the world.”

A native of Southern California, Ellis earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from California State University at Northridge. He pursued his doctorate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he studied and wrote on the Great Plains, with his doctoral research concentrating on the legal history of the Great Plains, particularly the relationship between legal culture, frontier communities, violence and law and order. Ellis completed his doctorate in 1999, then taught as a lecturer in the UNL History Department and served as an editorial assistant for the Encyclopedia of the Great Plains.

In 2000, Ellis accepted a visiting assistant professor position in the UNK History Department and the following year he was hired for a tenure-track position as a Nebraska/Great Plains historian.

Ellis has authored “Law and Order in Buffalo Bill’s Country,” as well as several articles and book chapters, and delivered many conference presentations and public talks. He is currently working on three different book projects that focus on Great Plains themes.

UNK’s graduate enrollment has increased each of the past five years, reaching 1,843 students in fall 2018. That’s the highest graduate enrollment figure since at least 1995, and a nearly 30 percent jump from 10 years ago. Fifty-four graduate programs are offered at UNK in 14 departments. About 85 percent of UNK’s graduate students are part-time, and most are participating online.

 Dean of graduate studies
Education: Bachelor of Arts, history, California State University at Northridge, 1990; Master of Arts, history, California State University at Northridge, 1993; doctorate, history, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1999.
Years at UNK: 19
Career: Lecturer, UNL Department of History, 1999-2000; Editorial assistant, Encyclopedia of the Great Plains, Center for Great Plains Studies, 1999-2002; Assistant professor, UNK Department of History, 2000-05; Associate professor, UNK Department of History, 2005-10; Professor, UNK Department of History, 2010-present; graduate program chair, UNK Department of History, 2006-13; chair, UNK Department of History, 2013-18.
Family: Spouse, Kemberly Savala Ellis; children, Evan, of Lincoln, Mason, a sophomore at UNL, and Jake, a senior at Kearney High School.