The University of Nebraska Board of Regents have appointed Walter “Ted” Carter, Jr. as the priority candidate to serve as the eighth president of the University of Nebraska.
As part of his 30-day review process, Carter is touring Nebraska to introduce himself to the community and discuss future plans for the school.
On Wednesday morning, Carter spoke at the Vintage Venue in Beatrice about his time as a vice admiral in the United States Navy, the immediate past superintendent of his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy, and a former president of the U.S. Naval War College.
Carter, 60, is the longest continuously serving superintendent at the Annapolis, Md., Naval Academy, serving from 2014-2019.
During his time as superintendent, Carter advanced diversity and inclusion at the Naval Academy. Of the Class of 2023, 28 percent are women and 40 percent are ethnic minorities. The Naval Academy’s Class of 2019 achieved a record-high graduation rate of 90 percent.
During the question portion of the tour, Southeast Community College’s Beatrice Campus Director Bob Morgan asked Carter if and how he plans to strengthen the connection between the University of Nebraska and the state’s community colleges.
Carter said he’s had firsthand experience with students entering a state college from a community college, as his son chose to do that after serving in the U.S. Army.
“We are huge believers in what that does for a lot of young people… There is a shrinking pool of men and women that are truly ready for a four year university when they graduate high school,” Carter said.
Carter said he wants to have a “handshake agreement” with Nebraska community colleges so that they support students going to a University of Nebraska campus after receiving their associate degrees.
“We need to empower students and excite them about education here in Nebraska by showing them where the opportunities exist- through quality internships, through businesses,” Carter said.
Paul Hay, retired Nebraska Extension Educator, asked Carter how he plans to unite the state’s focus on education considering various backgrounds.
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Carter said farmers are currently using extension research results to improve their agriculture.
“So talking with the legislators, talking about this investment. Not giving money to the system just so we can get kids to the school and get them graduated. This is an investment in the future of the state…My plan is to show with real data what that investment is worth,” Carter said.
District 30 Sen. Myron Dorn asked Carter what he sees happening to the cost of higher education over the next five to 10 years.
Carter said he sees many academic institutions facing the same challenges: higher tuition and lower student enrollment.
He said students are the most important part of the college system, and that the incoming generation of students need to be approached as a customer because they have multiple choices for higher education.
“In Nebraska, the number of applications and the number of students in the classroom has gone down about two percent in the last couple years. I wouldn’t say it’s a cause for alarm, but if it’s not checked, these things can be a problem,” Carter said.
The Board and the 23-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee – which represents faculty, students, staff, business, agriculture and other university constituencies – unanimously supported Carter’s candidacy as university president.
When the review process concludes, if the Board deems appropriate, the Board would vote on Carter’s appointment as the university’s president-elect.
Carter said that he and his wife, Linda, have lived across the United States and internationally, and have always considered that “home is where we land.”
“If we are confirmed, we are excited about making Nebraska our new home,” Carter said.