The University of Nebraska will soon begin the search process for a director to head the Panhandle Research and Extension Center.
UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green made the announcement during his visit to the western Nebraska campus Friday.
“Lots of exciting things are happening” in the university system, Green said. “I understand that the director here at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center position is now moving into its search for the next director.”
Archie Clutter, dean of the agricultural research division, visited the center within the last few days, visiting with the faculty at the center and talking about the search getting underway.
“So (we) are very excited about that, and seeing the opportunity for the new director to be named. That should play out now over the next few months,” said Green.
The center has been overseen by Jeff Bradshaw, who is an associate professor of entomology and was named in March 2020 to serve as interim associate director. The previous director, Jack Whittier, served in the position for six years before retiring in June 2020.
Green said it will be a national search, though Bradshaw and others in the system who may be interested in the position can be candidates. A national search typically takes three to four months to identify candidates and bring those candidates in to interview for the position. The goal of the search will be “to bring the best leader here to the Panhandle center, which is a high priority for the University of Nebraska and has been for its 111-year history here.”
The last time Greene visited PREC was in 2019, prior to the pandemic. As a land grant university, the University of Nebraska has campuses across the state.
“I like to refer to this wonderful place as a big small place,” he said, noting that the geography is large, with 1.9 million people over the 400-plus mile state.
As you travel across the state, he said, you cross five different agro-ecological zones and experience changes in elevation, making it one of the most diverse states in the country. As the land grant university for the state, he said, the University of Nebraska is here to serve the state with its education, research and engagement missions.
“Our commitment here is strong,” he said, saying that the PREC “has a full boat here” regarding staff and has a great team of specialists.
He and his wife visited university centers as they traveled across the state this week, visiting the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis and the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, as well as visiting other locations and with ranch partners in the Sandhills.
“The university does tremendous things across the state of Nebraska, because of the regional nature and need for those things in the state,” he said. “It’s great to be able to be out and about.”
Green said he is particularly excited for the upcoming academic year.
“I’m very excited about both how we came through the pandemic, this last year of loss, but especially looking forward to the following year ahead, and the start of a new academic year when we expect to be at 100% in full, for the university and all of our operations, with our students and the activities across our campuses.”
The university system is also excited about the expansions that it’s experiencing, he said. Earlier this week, UNL broke ground on a 181,500-square-foot facility for its College of Engineering, an area that Green says continues to see growth. The $97 million facility, which is privately funded, is expected to open to students in the fall of 2023.