Bob Bartee set to retire in early 2023

Bob Bartee

Bob Bartee

Bob Bartee, who has led government relations and communication efforts at UNMC for more than four decades, announced today that he plans to retire, effective in early January. 

“This is a transition that I’ve been discussing with Chancellor Gold for several months, and this is the right time for me to step away,” Bartee said. “This has been an amazing journey. It’s never been a job for me, but rather a passion and joy working with so many talented colleagues at UNMC and throughout the university and state of Nebraska. Strong support from my wife, Helen, and other family members while on this journey has been essential.”

Bartee began at UNMC in 1980, serving as the executive assistant to the chancellor. In 2006, his position was elevated to vice chancellor for external affairs. In that role, he has responsibilities for government relations, strategic communications, alumni relations, rural health initiatives and community relations. Bartee also served as the vice chancellor for external relations at the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 2019 to 2021.

Chris Kratochvil, MD

Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, announced that Chris Kratochvil, MD, who holds several senior-level administrative positions at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine, will serve as the interim vice chancellor for external relations at UNMC. Dr. Kratochvil will begin his transition to the office over the next several months, working closely with Bartee in familiarizing himself with the office’s duties and in preparation for the 2023 legislative session.

Dr. Gold emphasized that Bartee would remain in an advisory role well into 2023.

“Bob’s institutional knowledge and his work in advocating for UNMC simply cannot be replaced; we owe him a great debt of gratitude for all of his accomplishments – and there are many – over the past 40-plus years,” Dr. Gold said. “I’m pleased that Dr. Kratochvil has agreed to serve in this important role moving forward. Before and during the pandemic, Dr. Kratochvil has worked closely with multiple federal agencies – including but not limited to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Department of Defense – as well as numerous Congressional members, state legislators and their staffs.”

Prior to joining UNMC, Bartee spent five years in the University of Nebraska’s government relations office. A 1969 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Bartee has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s Maxwell Graduate School of Public Affairs.

In 2005, he received the 2005 Marvin D. “Swede” Johnson Achievement Award, one of only two state government awards for outstanding leadership presented annually by four nationally known academic organizations — the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.

The Battle Creek native’s tenure at UNMC includes numerous successes. Among them:

  • Establishing a partnership with Nebraska institutions receiving National Institutes of Health research funding and successfully drafting and passing legislation that called for 20% annually of the state’s Tobacco Settlement funds to be allocated for biomedical research.
  • Establishing the UNMC Alumni Relations office, which brought together individual college alumni chapters from across the campus.
  • Helping assemble a coalition of businesses, neighborhood groups and city government to develop a vision and master plan to revitalize the midtown Omaha area through Destination Midtown.
  • Designing and leading the passage of legislation to create the Nebraska Cancer Registry to assist cancer researchers in obtaining vital epidemiological data.
  • Positioning Nebraska as one of the very first states in the nation to dedicate a portion of its cigarette tax for research in cancer and smoking-related diseases.
  • Drafting legislation and securing funding for the Nebraska Rural Health Education Network (RHEN), a statewide educational partnership between private and academic health professionals. The office has morphed into what is now the Office of Rural Health Initiatives at UNMC.
  • Conceiving and establishing the UNMC High School Alliance, which offers high school juniors and seniors an opportunity for hands-on training from world-renowned experts.
  • Working with campus and community partners to secure state funding for the establishment of the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN).
  • Helping to secure state, county and city funding for the construction of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

Bartee has served as a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges Governmental Relations Steering Committee and the Association of Academic Health Centers Health Policy Advisory Committee. He also served in leadership roles on numerous community boards and organizations.

“I’ve had the privilege of working alongside terrific leaders at UNMC, especially the chancellors, all of whom understood and respected the role that external relations has in promoting and protecting the image of the campus,” Bartee said. “I also am fortunate to lead an exceptional team with terrific professionals.

“I’m also excited that Dr. Kratochvil will have the opportunity to fill this position. Chris has shown his dedication to our campus, and he has the knowledge, skillset and temperament to be hugely successful in this role.”

Dr. Kratochvil has served in several roles on campus. He is the associate vice chancellor for clinical research at UNMC; vice president for research at Nebraska Medicine; chief medical officer for UNeHealth; and the Global Center for Health Security Distinguished Chair. He formerly was a practicing child/adolescent psychiatrist and still holds a faculty appointment in psychiatry.

He said he looks forward to opportunities and challenges of the interim vice chancellor position.

“UNMC has a great story to tell, and I’m excited for this opportunity to lead a remarkable team that is charged with telling that story,” Dr. Kratochvil said. “I look forward to working closely with Bob over the next several months to better familiarize myself with the specific responsibilities of the position so that I can most effectively lead these efforts as interim vice chancellor.”


  1. Carmen Sirizzotti says:

    Congratulations on your retirement! Enjoy your retirement with family and friends. Best wishes.

  2. Dr. Howard Liu, Chair Dept Psychiatry, UNMC says:

    I want to commend Bob Bartee on his incredible legacy of service for the UNMC community. He had the vision to support BHECN and the Dept of Psychiatry to grow the mental health workforce more than a decade ago, and this has saved many lives. I want to also recognize Dr Kratochvil as a superlative researcher and ambassador for UNMC locally, nationally and internationally. He is a trusted leader who has the best interests of Nebraska at heart.

  3. Amy Steinauer says:

    We will miss you Mr.Bartee! I wish you all the best in retirement.

    Congratulations to Dr Kratochvil, a fine choice for interim. Your skills and talents will be a great fit!

  4. Carol Russell says:

    We’ve known you through so many years of your life’s journey. It has been an incredible time with so many accomplishments. Good luck to you and Helen in retirement.
    Carol and Rick

  5. Alëna A Balasanova MD says:

    Congratulations Chris on this exciting transition! I look forward to working with you on important advocacy efforts to move medicine forward!

  6. John Keenan says:

    Bob, thank you for your support, encouragement and leadership. It has been a privilege to work with you.

  7. Tom O’Connor says:

    Bob was a true mastermind – his genius made UNMC what it is today. Congrats on an incredible career, Bob. You are the best of the best! Know Chris will do an awesome job as interim – he’s truly a jack-of-all-trades.

  8. Debra Romberger says:

    I am so very grateful for Bob Bartee’s knowledge, passion, and leadership at UNMC and helping the institution in its relationships with the larger community. What a gift you have been to UNMC, Bob! Wishing you all the best.

  9. Karen Burbach says:

    Bob, we cannot thank you enough for all you’ve done for UNMC and all Nebraskans. Your leadership, counsel and vision will be missed. Best wishes to you and Helen.

  10. Dorothy Panowicz says:

    Congratulations on your well-earned retirement!

  11. Lisa Spellman says:

    Bob, you have been a friend, a mentor and someone I deeply admire. I will miss our road trips to Pine Ridge and side trips to Rosebud, your expert navigation when I veer off course and most of all your wise counsel. You will always be a part of my tiospaye and most beloved grandfather.

  12. Brigette Vaughan says:

    Congratulations to both on new adventures!

  13. Laura Vinson says:

    Congratulations on your retirement! What great impact you have left! Thank you and best wishes!
    Laura Vinson

  14. Heidi Keeler says:

    Bob is not only a wonderful advocate for UNMC and fierce advocate for our communities, but an amazing mentor and source of knowledge for so many. I will greatly miss you Bob! We all will!

  15. Nancy Woelfl says:

    Best wishes, Bob, as you begin a new phase in your life’s journey. You’ve had a hand, directly or indirectly, in all of UNMC’s world class accomplishments. Your diplomacy and grace under pressure are legendary as is your kindness toward UNMC colleagues and coworkers. I’m privileged to have had the benefit of your wise counsel and the opportunity of working with you.

  16. Mary Haven says:

    Thank you for the many years of wise counsel and encouragement you have given me. Your quiet leadership continues to bring excellence to UNMC. Enjoy your retirement.

  17. Stacie Hamel says:

    Congratulations to Bob on an incredible legacy at UNMC and to Chris on a new opportunity to make a difference on so many levels. It is an honor to work with you both.

  18. Mike Wadman says:

    We will miss you Bob! Congratulations on a long, successful career. Thanks for all you have done for us!

  19. Taylor Wilson says:

    Bob, it has been a joy to work with you over the years! Best wishes in everything you do in the next chapter of your life!

  20. Donald Leuenberger says:

    Bob, congratulations from Jani and I! Helen and you are off to new adventures. All of the fine things being said about you and your contributions to UNMC are absolutely true. I know having worked down the hall from you for more than 20 years. I’ll be interested in reading the interview you do for the oral history project. Don

  21. Bill O'Neill says:

    Congratulations on a terrific career, Bob, and thank you for your terrific mentorship to me and many others! All the best to you and Helen.

  22. Mark E Rupp says:

    Bob Bartee has been a tremendous asset to UNMC and the greater community for decades! Congratulations Bob and best wishes for success and happiness in your future endeavors.

  23. Marlene Novotny says:

    Congratulations, Bob! Thank you for your friendship and your wisdom. You will be sorely missed!

  24. Susan Kraft Mann says:

    Congratulations, Bob! Thank you for your support and encouragement these many years! So many people here at UNMC and beyond have benefited from your wisdom, grace, and kindness. I wish you all the best in this next chapter of your life!

  25. Tom Frette says:

    Congratulations Bob on an amazing career. You have positively influenced so many people over the years but I feel I may have gained the most from your mentoring. I wish you and Helen all the best on your next journey.

    Congratulations Chris as you transition into this exciting new role.

  26. Jackie Sunderman says:

    Congrats to my brother, Bob on his retirement! You have so many accomplishments and have done outstanding service for the Med Center all these years! You will be missed! I am so proud of you! May God bless you in your next journey in life! Love you and Helen!

  27. Sandy Goetzinger-Coner says:

    Congratulations to the most talented, visionary and humble person I know. I was so fortunate to work for you during my career at UNMC. I treasure those years. Thanks for all you taught me and so many others. You leave quite a legacy and will be missed!!

  28. Jackie Sunderman says:

    Congratulations to my brother,Bob on your retirement and for the many accomplishments you have received! You have done so much for the Med Center during those forty years of service! You will be missed! I am so proud of you!! May God bless you in your new journey in life! I love you and Helen!

  29. Emily McElroy says:

    Bob, your support for women and efforts around DEI made such a difference at UNMC. I am one of many who benefited from your endless support and encouragement, sound advice, and sense of humor. Your legacy is deep and far reaching.

  30. Emily Glenn says:

    Congratulations on your retirement, Bob! Your deep commitment to connection and advocacy has made a huge difference in UNMC’s culture. It has been a pleasure to work with you over the years. Wishing you all the best!

  31. Mary Helms says:

    Congratulations Bob! I loved working with you. You have always been a strong inspiration to all of us. I learned so much from you and especially enjoyed traveling to Board of Regents meetings back in the day. 😎
    Now you can say “Everyday is the weekend”!

  32. Sarah Gloden Carlson says:

    Congratulations, on your retirement, Bob! You have led work that will benefit Nebraskans for many generations to come. A hearty congratulations to Dr. Kratochvil, who will do an amazing job as the Interim Vice Chancellor.

  33. Carla imray says:

    Congratulations!!! Time to come to Arizona!!

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