What's Next for NU After President Milliken Announces He's Leaving?

University Nebraska President James B. Milliken will be leaving Nebraska for a new role in New York.

Wednesday, Milliken informed the university community that after nearly a decade as NU’s president, he will leave Nebraska to become the next chancellor of the City University of New York, the nation’s premier urban public university.

The Board of Trustees of CUNY voted unanimously voted to appoint Milliken as the seventh Chancellor.

Milliken has served as NU President since 2004 and a nationally prominent leader in public higher education.

“As a native Nebraskan, serving as president of the University of Nebraska has been one of the greatest privileges of my career,” Milliken said. “I am incredibly proud of what’s happening here – which is a testament to the quality of our outstanding faculty, students and the leadership of many. Today the University of Nebraska is doing more than ever to provide students in Nebraska and beyond with an affordable, excellent education; to conduct research in areas critical to people in Nebraska and around the world; and to help people in communities across the state live healthier, more productive lives. This university is poised for great things. While it is difficult to leave, I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve as the chancellor of CUNY, a university that plays such a vital role for the nation’s largest city and the entire country.”

Milliken will assume the position of chancellor no later than June 1, 2014.

CUNY is the third-largest university system in the United States, with 24 campuses across New York City and 270,000 degree-credit students and 218,000 adult, continuing and professional education students. CUNY’s student body is one of the most diverse in the nation, with 40 percent of undergraduates having been born outside the United States. Twenty percent of the university’s undergraduates are the first in their families to attend college. The chancellor is CUNY’s highest-ranking official, with the campus presidents reporting to him or her.

“I know I speak for my colleagues on the Board of Regents when I say that we are happy for President Milliken and his family as they start a new chapter of their lives at CUNY, but we are also sorry to lose them,” said Tim Clare, chairman of the NU Board of Regents. “President Milliken has been an extraordinary visionary for the University of Nebraska. His leadership, coupled with his tireless work ethic and magnetic personality, has taken the University of Nebraska to new heights that have benefited not only the university, but also the entire state of Nebraska. We have done a great deal to fulfill our mission as a leading 21st-century university and our trajectory puts us in a strong position to continue this momentum. We thank J.B. and Nana for everything they have done for the University of Nebraska and the state. They have made a difference in so many peoples’ lives, and we wish them nothing but the best.”

Clare said a national search will be conducted for the next president of the University of Nebraska. In accordance with university policy, the Board of Regents will appoint an advisory committee to assist the Board in the search. The size and composition of the advisory committee will be determined by the Board, but it will include representatives of the principal constituencies with which the president interacts.

Clare said an interim NU president likely will be designated by the Board at a later date.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman issued the following statement on University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken's appointment as chancellor of the City College of New York system:

"This is a very significant loss for the University of Nebraska. It is an understatement to say that J.B. Milliken has done an extraordinary job in his tenure as president of the NU system. During the past decade, he has been a visionary leader and a staunch advocate for higher education in the state of Nebraska.

"On a personal level, I do want to wish J.B. well in his new endeavor, as he is a great friend and colleague. Our friends at CUNY are getting an innovative and highly regarded leader, and we in Nebraska will continue to benefit from President Milliken’s legacy for years to come.”

Board of Regents Chairman Tim Clare says it's the end of an era for the NU, but a time to look to the future.

"We'll meet, discuss, and get a process established, then get an interim president hired," said Clare. "We'll also get the search committee together to start the search for a new president."

The interim president will be chosen by the Board of Regents, and Clare says the new person in charge will have time to work with Milliken.

"He or she will likely be someone that's appointed while J.B. is here so that J.B. can have a little time to work with him or her," said Clare.

Clare says while CUNY has said that Milliken will start no later than June 1, he assumes Milliken will complete his career at NU sometime in April.

But according to Clare, the search for an interim president has already begun.

"We've started collecting some names, we've asked the colleagues on the board to start thinking of some people they think could serve in this capacity," Clare said.

Unfortunately, the process for hiring a new president won't be as easy.

"A typical hiring process for the president of the university, at a minimum, would be 6 months, with a maximum of be maybe 9 to 12 months. It's a long process," said Clare.

When it comes to qualities the Board of Regents is looking for, Clare says they want someone who can continue what Milliken started and take the university to new heights.

"We've got to get someone in here that has a good understanding of what higher education is all about, and where it's going," he said.

Statement from Gov. Dave Heineman regarding NU President James B. Milliken's appointment as CUNY chancellor:

"J.B. Milliken has been an outstanding President of the University of Nebraska, and I am proud of the work we have been able accomplish together over the last nine years in our respective capacities. Nebraskans appreciate his leadership during his time as NU President and while we are sad to see him leave our great state, we wish him the best in his future endeavors."