UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen: A Champion of Community Growth and Innovation

UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen: A Champion of Community Growth and Innovation Main Photo

15 Apr 2024

As we step into a new season, the Development Council is excited to showcase three examples of exceptional leadership that have shaped Kearney, the communities of Buffalo County, and beyond as part of our three-week “Legacy of Leadership” series.

Since assuming leadership of the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) in 2002, Chancellor Doug Kristensen has transformed the university and spearheaded initiatives that have significantly benefited Kearney and Greater Nebraska. With a strong focus on partnerships, workforce development, and innovation, Chancellor Kristensen has positioned UNK as a beacon of excellence in Kearney, Nebraska.

Elevating Healthcare Education: UNK's Impactful Partnerships

Under Chancellor Kristensen's guidance, UNK has forged significant partnerships, particularly with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), bringing professional healthcare education to Kearney. This collaboration has enriched the region's educational landscape and positioned Kearney as a hub for healthcare education, benefiting both the community and the state.

His commitment to workforce development is evident through UNK programs and initiatives that prepare students for success in rural areas. Programs in rural health, law, education, and entrepreneurship have equipped students with the skills they need and contributed significantly to rural Nebraska's economic development.

Since 2022, Kristensen has expanded the UNK-UNMC partnership, bringing professional health programs from the UNMC Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Public Health to Kearney. The result is the Rural Health Education Building, a $95 million facility located north of the existing one. This collaboration allows for the students to obtain professional degrees in Kearney, including medicine, pharmacy, allied health, nursing, public health, and behavioral health services, making it the country's largest rural health education center.

Transforming Communities: UNK's Regional Engagement Center and University Village

The Regional Engagement Center is a notable project that highlights Chancellor Kristensen's commitment to community growth. This public-private partnership will attract new businesses and organizations to Kearney, complement the university's academic activities, and serve as a venue for meetings, workshops, and other campus and community events. The center, scheduled to open in late April or early May 2024, is expected to stimulate increased interest from businesses, nonprofits, and public entities, further bolstering the region's economy.

Located just south of U.S. Highway 30, the Regional Engagement Center is a cornerstone of the University Village development. This 104-acre site combines educational, residential, commercial, and recreational opportunities within a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood.

Projects like the University Village and the 52,000-square-foot Regional Engagement Center are enhancing the university's academic offerings and attracting businesses and investment to the region, fostering economic growth and development.

Effective Leadership: Chancellor Kristensen’s Legacy at UNK

Chancellor Doug Kristensen's tenure at UNK has been transformative. His visionary leadership and steadfast commitment to public service have elevated UNK's stature and profoundly impacted the Buffalo County community. He has positioned UNK as a beacon of excellence in Nebraska, by forging impactful partnerships, expanding workforce development programs, and spearheading innovative projects.

As Chancellor Kristensen concludes his tenure at UNK, his vision for the university as a center for technology and innovation, exemplified by projects like University Village and the Regional Engagement Center, has laid a strong foundation for future growth. These initiatives will continue to drive economic development in the region, solidifying Chancellor Kristensen's legacy as a true champion of community growth and innovation.

Development Council for Buffalo County

The Development Council for Buffalo County dedicates itself to driving economic growth and development for you and your business. Our mission is to use innovative strategies that elevate our existing companies while forging impactful opportunities for new businesses, investors, and developers. This approach enhances the quality of life in Buffalo County and fosters genuine prosperity, giving every resident a compelling reason to call this unique place home. The Development Council’s collaborative partnership with the University of Nebraska Kearney and its leadership, is a key ingredient in achieving this end. Contact us today and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook!

Stay tuned for next week’s Legacy of Leadership spotlight featuring Mayor Stan Clouse.