Ted Carter would like to continue building on three pillars for the University of Nebraska system — affordability, accessibility and success.
The NU president, who was in Norfolk on Friday, said students would be returning in August for the next school year with the second straight year of a tuition freeze.
Carter said as he travels around the state, he feels fortunate to meet so many Nebraskans who care deeply about the university system.
With a single university system, Carter said he spends a lot of time with the Nebraska Unicameral.
“There isn’t anything that happens at the state that the university doesn’t touch. I often say, ‘How ever the university goes, so goes the state. And it goes the other way, too. How ever the state goes, so goes the university.’ ”
Carter said the university had expanded student internships and workforce development. It is hoped to keep more Nebraskans in the state when they find out more about work opportunities.
Out of the NU system, 70% of graduates stay in state after graduation. At UNL, 65% stay in state and 35% go out of state. The highest is UNMC, where 90% stay in state.
And somewhat encouraging, from the out-of-state graduates, 50% of the UNL grads stay in the state, he said.
Nebraska is a great place to live because it is affordable, is a well-educated state and has an opportunity to improve because it has done things that are unique, including coming out of the pandemic and freezing tuition.
In addition, Nebraska has a program for those graduating from a household with an income of less than $60,000. Those students may sign up for free tuition. Many students from the Norfolk area are taking advantage of it, Carter said.
The university also has a four-year graduation guarantee. If a student takes all the basics and doesn’t graduate in four years, the university will pay for the rest of the education.
“We are one of the lowest and best values of any university system in the country,” Carter said. “We are by far the best value of any school in the Big Ten.”
The university system is not competing with the state colleges and community colleges but hoping to work together to help educate Nebraskans and improve the quality of life for everyone.
Carter’s visit included talking to community leaders from the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce’s Action Council and touring Northeast Community College.
Carter spent most of his career in the military with almost 40 years in the U.S. Navy. He graduated from the “Top Gun” school and was there when the original movie was made in the 1980s. In fact, he was assigned to accompany the film’s star, Tom Cruise, as his escort and help him learn about the school.
Carter grew up in what he called “a small town, about half the size of Norfolk” on a lake in Rhode Island. He played hockey, including at the Naval Academy where he played center. Being from New England, his favorite NHL team was the Boston Bruins and remains so today, although he also follows whatever team he is geographically living near. He grew up watching players like Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Carter credits his military and hockey background with helping him prepare for his work today as NU system president. He’s had three careers in his life: A Navy jet pilot, nuclear engineer and as an admiral.
Get that degree
Nebraska has 307,000 adults who didn’t finish their four-year degrees. Carter is hoping they go back to school to finish up. He said it isn’t just a Nebraska problem, as the U.S. population has 30 million adults like that.
Carter said he is hoping to have more corporations like Union Pacific, which has provided funds to help some of these adults return to school, making it possible for them to finish if they can’t afford it.