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Nebraska Regents to vote on next UNL chancellor, 37% pay bump

By: - June 21, 2023 1:29 pm

Rodney Bennett, priority candidate for chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, speaks at a public forum on Friday, June 9, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — The University of Nebraska Board of Regents is poised to approve the next chancellor for its largest university, offering a 37% pay increase compared to the retiring chancellor.

Rodney Bennett, priority candidate for chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

The NU regents’ June 22 meeting agenda was amended Wednesday morning to officially recommend Rodney Bennett as chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His base salary would be $720,000.

Chancellor Ronnie Green plans to retire at the end of the month — his base salary was $525,300.

In addition to the 37% salary increase, Bennett’s proposed contract — currently being reviewed by NU’s legal counsel — will include the following perks:

  • A three-year term starting July 1.
  • An 11.5% deferred compensation package, setting aside that amount from his base salary to be paid later. An NU spokeswoman said this is the standard agreement also offered to Green, Carter and other NU chancellors.
  • Country club membership to a club of Bennett’s choosing.
  • Paid moving expenses — Bennett currently resides in Florida.

NU President Ted Carter announced Bennett, the former University of Southern Mississippi president, as UNL’s priority candidate to succeed Green on May 22, setting out a 30-day public review period mandated by state law. That period ended Wednesday.

“The same qualities that I’ve seen in Dr. Rodney Bennett have resonated with Nebraskans — that he is a proven leader and skilled relationship-builder with a bold vision to move our university forward,” Carter said in a statement.

NU hosted nearly 20 public forums June 5-9 for Bennett with at least 1,400 people attending in-person or via Zoom, according to the NU spokeswoman.

During those forums, Bennett described his desire for “translational science” and transferable research and economic development; committed to continuing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, which are in the political crosshairs nationwide at public universities; and told students they are the “fundamental reason” for his work.

Bennett is also no stranger to UNL or the NU system.

Former NU president Hank Bounds, while serving as commissioner of higher education in Mississippi, hired Bennett for the Southern Miss presidency in 2013. 

Three years later, Bennett gave the keynote address for Bounds’ installation as NU president.

“We’ve just had this relationship, between me and Nebraska, for several years, and it just almost makes sense that I would apply to be chancellor here,” Bennett told the Nebraska Examiner.

University of Nebraska President Ted Carter. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

Carter applauded Bennett’s appreciation of UNL’s land-grant mission of promoting education in “agriculture and mechanic arts” and for being “a passionate champion for student access and success.”

“He is the right person to lead UNL at this pivotal moment for higher education,” Carter said.

On Thursday, Regents will also consider NU’s budget, a proposal to move oversight of Husker Athletics to the NU president instead of the UNL chancellor and whether to permit alcohol at Memorial Stadium for UNL’s Volleyball Day in Nebraska Aug. 30 event.

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Zach Wendling
Zach Wendling

Zach rejoins the Nebraska Examiner after studying abroad in Antigua, Guatemala, following a yearlong Examiner internship. His coverage focus areas have included politics and government, health and well-being and higher education.

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