Surrounded by leaders from the University of Nebraska, City of Omaha, State of Nebraska and even the United States of America, Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., spoke of the importance of humanity's social contract to open his remarks at his formal investiture as the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Chancellor on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.
"Jean Jacques Rousseau defined the social good --- initially of government, but more so of the role of leadership leadership -- as an implicit agreement among the members of society to cooperate for the benefits of members of society," Dr. Gold said. "In Rousseau's 'Contracte Sociale,' he defines this higher commitment, in today's words, to be relevant and to be responsive to today's society."
Five years to the day of his UNO investiture, Dr. Gold was officially invested as the Chancellor of UNMC. A little under three years later, on May 8, 2017, he also took on leadership of UNO and joined the list of education advocates from across the campus' nearly 111-year-old history as a metropolitan university of distinction serving students from all backgrounds.
The theme of community, social good and the "Access to Exceptional" higher education was echoed through the ceremony, which saw personal testimonials in support of Dr. Gold and UNO from Susan Fritz, Ph.D, interim president of the University of Nebraska; Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert; Michael Yanney, chair emeritus of The Burlington Capital Group; Tim Clare, chair of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents; Laura Grams, Ph.D., chair of the UNO Department of Philosophy; Steven Summers, director of the Thompson Alumni Center and president of UNO's Staff Advisory Council; Aya Yousuf, UNO student body president and student regent; and Chris Denny, chair of the UNO Alumni Board.
The event's keynote address was given by UNO alumnus and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who enrolled at UNO with his brother, Tom, following a military tour in Vietnam. "UNO has evolved into more than just a city university, as it began more than 100 years ago ... That vision has benefited the Omaha community and communities across Nebraska and the people and students they serve," Hagel said. "A community will not grow without vision; that's what makes Jeff Gold's appointment as UNO's next chancellor so important."
The event also served as Dr. Gold's third "State of the University" address, where he highlighted dozens of advancements in education, research, service, and campus growth. Dr. Gold ended his remarks by returning to the theme of the investiture: "Access to Exceptional" and identified five key goals for the future:
- To focus on learning and outcomes, rather than process.
- To build stronger university-community partnerships.
- To create a lifelong-learning model that creates a continuum of education.
- To blend high-tech and high-touch through experiential learning.
- To rethink the cost model and create true affordability for higher education.
"Nebraska's story must be UNO's story. A story of access to exceptional: historical yet relevant, welcoming yet engaging; proud and at the same time humble; valuable and affordable; flexible and resilient; responsive and responsible; opportunistic, yet always strategic. It is great pride, high energy, and an amazing team of colleagues and friends that I fully accept this responsibility, laser focus on the challenges that lay before us, and embrace our opportunities."