Chancellor retirement, budget challenges, new rural health building, record volleyball crowd are top UNK stories of 2023

In a year marked by dynamic changes, groundbreaking achievements and unforgettable student experiences, the University of Nebraska at Kearney presents its Top Stories of 2023. These stories – covered by the UNK Communications team – are a collection of the most impactful and widely discussed stories that shaped our campus community.

Doug Kristensen to retire as University of Nebraska at Kearney chancellor after 22 years

University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen, a native Nebraskan, lifelong public servant and the longest-serving chancellor in the history of the University of Nebraska, announced today that he will be stepping away after 22 years in the role.
Kristensen will step down from the chancellor’s role at the end of the current academic year, providing the University of Nebraska President’s Office a runway to determine next steps for UNK leadership. Kristensen will take a one-year professional development leave, after which he intends to remain engaged on strategic projects within the university community. READ MORE

University of Nebraska at Kearney announces strategic budget cuts to address financial challenges

In a significant restructuring effort, the University of Nebraska at Kearney announced Monday that it will discontinue several academic degrees and faculty positions due to changing enrollment trends and fiscal challenges.
The realignment is in direct response to a $58 million budget shortfall projected for the University of Nebraska System by 2025.
It includes the reduction of 24.5 faculty positions and the discontinuation of nine academic degrees. These decisions, resulting in $2.3 million in savings, are part of a comprehensive plan to mitigate an expected $4.3 million budget deficit at UNK. READ MORE

Groundbreaking UNK-UNMC partnership ushers in new era for rural health care        

Demonstrating a unified commitment to closing the health care gap in rural communities, University of Nebraska leaders came together today to celebrate a project that will transform lives for generations.
The University of Nebraska at Kearney and University of Nebraska Medical Center hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the new UNK-UNMC Rural Health Education Building, a cutting-edge facility that will grow the state’s rural health care workforce and help communities thrive.
“Our goal is to harness UNMC’s world-class skills to transform rural Nebraska through a unique endeavor not seen elsewhere in the United States: educating health care workers and professionals in rural areas,” said UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen. “The Rural Health Education Building will be a game-changer in this respect, serving a crucial role in filling shortages in all medical professions across Nebraska. READ MORE

Lopers part of unbelievable, crazy, amazing, world record-setting volleyball event at Memorial Stadium

University of Nebraska at Kearney coach Rick Squiers looked at the record-breaking crowd inside Memorial Stadium and just shook his head.
Even he was amazed by the historic Volleyball Day in Nebraska event.
“What a day,” he said. “Unbelievable. This is something our players are going to remember for a long time.”
An astounding 92,003 people packed the iconic venue on Wednesday, setting a record for the most-attended women’s sporting event ever and sending a clear message to the sports world – Nebraska is THE volleyball state.
UNK middle blocker Abby Rose called the celebration “surreal.” READ MORE

Entertainment superstar George ‘Tyrus’ Murdoch started his path to success at UNK

When opportunity knocks, George “Tyrus” Murdoch doesn’t just open the door. He tears it off the hinges using his massive 6-foot-7, 375-pound frame.
That’s how the former University of Nebraska at Kearney football player and current professional wrestler, actor, author, comedian and TV personality approaches life. He learned early on that nothing is guaranteed.
“You never know what your path is going to be, but if you’re able to deal with the punches in the mouth and you find a way to believe in yourself and keep working, doors will open up and success will find you,” Murdoch said. “I’m a strong believer that hard work will always pay off – it just might not be the payoff you were expecting.” READ MORE

Yung Gravy, Chevy Woods entertain big crowd with unforgettable spring concert performance

Rapper, song writer and social media sensation Yung Gravy headlined UNK’s spring concert Thursday night at the Health and Sports Center on campus. Los Angeles rapper Chevy Woods opened the show.
The concert was organized and sponsored by UNK’s Loper Programming and Activities Council. The show was a near sellout with more than 3,500 attending. READ MORE

UNK-UNMC Rural Health Complex named in honor of Chancellor Doug Kristensen

The Rural Health Education Complex at the University of Nebraska at Kearney will be named for UNK Chancellor Douglas Kristensen, following approval from the University of Nebraska Board of Regents during its meeting Friday in Lincoln.
The complex was named in Kristensen’s honor in recognition of his role as an ardent champion for greater Nebraska, especially in building the health sciences workforce needed to keep communities across the state vibrant. The Douglas A. Kristensen Rural Health Education Complex on UNK’s west campus includes an existing building, which opened in 2015, and the Rural Health Education Building currently under construction. READ MORE

A ‘Blessing’ to our program: With local support, UNK opens new wrestling facility on campus

What was once a swimming pool is now a top-notch training facility for one of the best wrestling programs in Division II.
The University of Nebraska at Kearney opened the new Ron and Pam Blessing Wrestling Facility last month, giving the defending national champions an “amazing” place to call home.
“This facility rivals a lot of Division I programs,” said UNK head wrestling coach Dalton Jensen, whose team is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation.
Located on the main level of the Health and Sports Center/Cushing Coliseum, the nearly 10,000-square-foot wrestling facility features strength and cardio equipment, a sports medicine/athletic training room, locker rooms for coaches and student-athletes, whirlpool baths, coaches’ offices and plenty of practice space. READ MORE

Karl Borden was a serial entrepreneur, academic, community pillar and proud husband and father        

Karl J. Borden, 76, of Gibbon passed away on June 7, 2023, at his home, surrounded by family.
With boundless energy, Karl juggled two careers as a serial entrepreneur and an academic. While living in Omaha in the mid-80s, Karl ran multiple companies while commuting to Kearney State College (now UNK) to teach courses in finance. In 1990, Karl accepted a full-time position at UNK, and the family moved to Gibbon. READ MORE

UNK removes interim tag, selects Paul Twigg to lead College of Arts and Sciences      

The University of Nebraska at Kearney has selected Paul Twigg as the next dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
A longtime biology professor, Twigg has served as the college’s interim dean since September 2022. His appointment to the permanent position is effective July 1, pending University of Nebraska Board of Regents approval.
Twigg joined UNK in 1992 as part of the first faculty cohort hired following the school’s transition to the University of Nebraska System. Since then, he’s taught a variety of courses and mentored countless undergraduate and graduate students. READ MORE

UNK fraternities have new home at renovated Martin Hall

Step inside the main entrance to Martin Hall and one of the first things you’ll notice is a cornerstone bearing the names of Herbert L. Cushing, the former president of the Nebraska State Teachers College at Kearney, as well as members of the Board of Education of State Normal Schools.
That stone, placed in 1953 when the residence hall was under construction, is one of the few features that remained untouched during a major renovation that transformed the nearly 70-year-old building into a modern living and hangout space for University of Nebraska at Kearney fraternity members.
Following 18 months of work to upgrade and improve the 42,500-square-foot building, Martin Hall reopened in mid-January as the new home for Delta Tau Delta, Phi Delta Theta, Pi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Sigma Tau Gamma. READ MORE

Renovated Calvin T. Ryan Library will serve as a hub for student success and support on campus 

As work progresses at Calvin T. Ryan Library, the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s vision for this valuable campus resource is beginning to take shape.
It may be surrounded by construction fence right now, but soon the building will be more accessible and welcoming than ever.
“When this project is complete, my hope is that people will come into the building and want to spend time here,” said Evan Boyd, dean of the library. “It’s exciting to think about how we’re going to be able to work together to better serve students, faculty and staff.”
Started in late 2022, the renovation is part of a plan to modernize Calvin T. Ryan Library and enhance its role on campus. The $25 million project includes a number of significant changes that will improve the layout, appearance and functionality of the nearly 100,000-square-foot building. READ MORE

Ryan Held introduced as UNK head football coach     

The University of Nebraska at Kearney introduced Ryan Held as the 19th head coach in Loper football history during a press conference Tuesday morning at the Health and Sports Center on campus. Held and UNK Director of Athletics Marc Bauer spoke at the event.
Held, 48, spent the past season as interim head coach and offensive coordinator at NCAA Division I University of North Alabama. Before that, he was an assistant/running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Nebraska (2018-21) and assistant/running backs coach at the University of Central Florida (2016-17). He was twice named one of the nation’s top 25 recruiters by while at Nebraska. READ MORE

Pride of the Plains Marching Band performs in Ireland: ‘It was definitely a memorable experience’

Emma Schroeder can describe her recent trip to Ireland in one word.
“We’ll be talking about this trip for years and years to come,” the University of Nebraska at Kearney student said. “It was so cool and so memorable.”
Schroeder, a sophomore music education major from Kenesaw, and 49 other members of UNK’s Pride of the Plains Marching Band recently spent six days in the Emerald Isle, where they visited numerous cultural and historical sites and performed during the annual New Year’s Festival in Dublin. READ MORE

‘I just can’t wait to live here’: UNK students get sneak peek at new sorority housing 

The spacious laundry rooms and abundance of natural light definitely stood out as Katie Lytle toured the new sorority housing on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus.
She loves those features, but it was another amenity that really caught her eye.
“The kitchen is what I’m most excited about,” she said with a smile.
Lytle and other members of the Alpha Phi sorority currently live in University Residence South, where they use an outdated kitchen that isn’t ideal for cooking.
“We never make anything,” the 7-12 chemistry education major said. “As a junior now, that’s basically the only thing I miss about living at home.” READ MORE