Chris Kabourek named University of Nebraska interim president

Chris Kabourek, interim president of the University of Nebraska System

Chris Kabourek, interim president of the University of Nebraska System

Chris Kabourek, University of Nebraska senior vice president and chief financial officer, will assume the role of interim president on Jan. 1 following a unanimous vote Friday by the NU Board of Regents.

Kabourek, a Nebraska native, first-generation college student, UNL alum and 26-year veteran of the university, will succeed current President Ted Carter. Carter is stepping down Dec. 31 to become president of The Ohio State University.

“Chris loves Nebraska, he loves the University of Nebraska and he has told us he will do whatever he can to help the institution. That’s the kind of leadership and commitment we need as we move forward with our plans to take the University of Nebraska to a new level of excellence,” said Board of Regents Chairman Tim Clare of Lincoln. “Our university will be in good hands at this important juncture.”

Board Vice Chairman Rob Schafer of Beatrice added: “Chris has demonstrated a strong Nebraska work ethic, common sense and accountability throughout his time at the university, and he will bring those same qualities to the president’s role. As we execute our plan for greater growth and competitiveness, we need someone with deep institutional knowledge, trusted relationships and a willingness to make tough decisions for the betterment of our university and state.

“Chris is that leader, and we are lucky that he is willing to step up and seamlessly continue our work.”

Kabourek said: “I am humbled that the board has entrusted me with this opportunity. I know from my own experience as a first-generation student that higher education changes lives, and I want to make sure that opportunity exists for all Nebraska students.

“We have an exciting plan in place, a talented team to get the job done, and in the months ahead we are going to work as hard as we can to deliver results that the board and all Nebraskans expect and deserve from their university.”

Kabourek, who grew up in David City, joined the university in 1997 after earning a bachelor’s degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University and an MBA from UNL. He has served as CFO since 2018, overseeing all financial and administrative services that support NU’s $3.3 billion operating budget, including budgeting, facilities and capital planning, accounting, procurement and human resources. He works closely with the board, president, chancellors and campus chief business and academic officers, as well as the governor, elected officials and other leaders within and outside the university.

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, said, “I would like to congratulate Mr. Chris Kabourek on this appointment as interim president of our university. As both the chancellor of UNMC and the executive vice president and provost of the University of Nebraska System, I have found him a consummate professional and a skilled leader who is well-equipped to steward the university while we work to identify a top-echelon candidate for the position. I look forward to continuing to work with him in this new role.”

As CFO, Kabourek led the development of the university’s new deferred maintenance strategy and has helped the university achieve consistently high marks from credit ratings agencies, successes that save taxpayer dollars while meeting student, faculty and staff needs. He played a key role in the creation of the Nebraska Promise financial aid program and has provided leadership on strategic planning efforts and numerous legislative operating and capital budget requests.

Kabourek also is active in the community as a college basketball referee and youth sports coach. He and his wife, Jamie, have three sons, the oldest of whom is a freshman at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Carter said: “The Board of Regents has made an outstanding selection in Chris Kabourek. I’ve relied on Chris for candid advice and creative solutions time and again over the past four years. He cares deeply about students and understands the great responsibility and opportunity that come with stewarding precious Nebraska resources. I know Chris will keep this university moving in the right direction.”

The board is conducting a national search for the university system’s ninth president. Kabourek will hold the interim role in addition to his CFO title and duties until a permanent successor is named and takes office. In accepting the interim role, Kabourek has agreed to not be a candidate for the permanent position.