OMAHA – “Dr. Joanne Li is a maverick in every sense of the word.
University of Nebraska President Ted Carter delivered the compliment Friday when describing Li, chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, during a ceremony that symbolically installed her as the 16th chancellor of the metropolitan campus. .
While Li had been in the job for nearly nine months, Carter and other NU officials said she got off to a flying start. They praised her for having a maverick mentality, a play on the name of the university team, in reference to her ability to build relationships and her determination to continuously improve the university.
“Like a real maverick, she has big ideas — lots of them,” Carter said. “Joanne Li is not afraid to think differently, ask tough questions, and take a new path from what has been done in the past.”
Li offered insight into some of those ideas when he spoke to the media ahead of the ceremony. Drawing on the experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Li said the past two years have created a need to think differently.
“We really need to take this opportunity to reflect,” she said.
Li, who struggled to pay for his education as a first-generation Hong Kong student in the late 1980s, set a series of goals to help students get an affordable, quality education in time. timely.
More than a third of UNO students are eligible for Pell grants and 40% are first-generation students.
Li said achieving these goals will help Nebraska meet its workforce development challenges and be economically competitive. The state hit a new national low when it reported an unemployment rate of 1.7% based on seasonally adjusted December numbers. But as of Friday, there were more than 48,000 job postings on the state’s NEWorks website.
“We’re going to be laser-focused to make sure we’re investing in our people,” she said. “There are a lot of jobs in Nebraska that need to be filled, but they need to be filled with a quality workforce. They must be completed by people (with) a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) discipline. But they must also be trained as independent critical thinkers with our arts and humanities.
During Friday’s ceremony, Li said she sees opportunities for the university to work with community colleges to meet workforce demands. She envisions the UN providing opportunities for working professionals to upgrade or retrain. She added a goal for the university to provide more than double the number of internship opportunities for students.
“In fact, today and going forward, I want to commit to working with our local business leaders and employers to provide paid internships so that our students can get their foot in the door of the house of opportunity,” she says.
Li positioned the UN as a partner of the city and a reflection of a growing metropolitan area.
“Our people are our strength,” she said. “UNO is built on our collaboration with the community – a true character of an urban university.”
This partnership was mentioned earlier in the ceremony by Mayor Jean Stothert, who envisions Omaha becoming one of the top 25 cities in the United States within the next 50 years.
“We will do this by creating a community of opportunity for all, growing our economy and caring for our less fortunate friends and neighbors,” she said. “The students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University of Nebraska at Omaha will be part of the next decades of success.”
Besides sketching out a vision, Li also reflected on the recent achievements of the UN. These include the university hitting a record $31.5 million for sponsored research projects so far this fiscal year, which began July 1, 2021. Li also noted continued growth in student enrollment , which has increased by nearly 23% over the past five years.