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More turnover among UNL's deans; leader of College of Arts and Sciences resigns
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More turnover among UNL's deans; leader of College of Arts and Sciences resigns


Joseph Francisco will resign as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on June 30, four years after assuming leadership in the campus’ largest academic unit.

In an announcement Friday, Francisco, also a professor of chemistry, said it was “an honor and privilege” to lead the college since 2014.

“I am ready to embark on a new journey personally,” he wrote to faculty and staff. “I am looking forward to renewing my passion for research and am excited to continue to contribute in my field. I look forward to the opportunities that await me professionally and personally.”

A college spokesperson said Francisco, whose salary this year was $389,634, and his family are weighing their options.

Chancellor Ronnie Green called Francisco "an extraordinary person of many accomplishments."

"I'm very sorry to see Dean Francisco leave," he said.

Donde Plowman, UNL’s executive vice chancellor, called Francisco a leader during a time of growing enrollment and expansion within the College of Arts and Sciences.

“The last four years under Joe’s leadership has been an exhilarating time for the college and I will do everything necessary to maintain its positive trajectory,” Plowman said.

An interim dean will be named soon, Plowman added, followed by a search for a replacement.

Francisco is the eighth of nine UNL college deans to leave their post since former Chancellor Harvey Perlman announced his retirement in 2015, beginning with Susan Poser, who left as dean of the College of Law to become provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Richard Moberly has taken over as dean of the College of Law.

Other administrative turnover since Chancellor Ronnie Green took office include:

* Kathy Ankerson became dean of the College of Architecture in May 2016 after Kim Wilson stepped down following a three-year term as interim dean.

* Tim Wei’s appointment as dean of the College of Engineering was not renewed by Green in June 2016; Lance Perez was later named interim dean, and Perez is now a finalist for the permanent post along with David Ashley, professor of engineering practice at the University of Southern California, and Mei Wei, associate dean for research and graduate education and professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Connecticut.

* Kathy Farrell was named dean of the College of Business after serving as interim dean following Plowman’s appointment as executive vice chancellor.

* Marjorie Kostelnik left as dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences to take charge of the University of Nebraska system’s budget-cutting efforts. Beth Doll, an associate dean at the college, was named interim dean.

* Steve Waller stepped down as dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources last summer to become the interim director for the UNL Center for Grassland Studies last July. Tiffany Heng-Moss was named interim dean as a search began for a permanent leader.

* Maria Marron, the fifth dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications since 2009, announced her resignation in January. Amy Struthers, the college’s graduate chair and faculty founder of the Jacht Advertising Lab, was appointed interim dean.

The longest-serving of the college deans, Chuck O'Connor, has been the dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts since 2012.

Green has also seen turnover of his cabinet of vice chancellors since taking office.

* The late Prem Paul was succeeded by Steve Goddard as interim vice chancellor for research and economic development in 2016. UNL announced last week the hiring of Robert Wilhelm, a vice chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, to be the new vice chancellor.

* Laurie Bellows is now the interim vice chancellor for student affairs, taking over for Juan Franco after the longtime vice chancellor stepped down in April 2017. Franco died in August.

* Following Chris Jackson’s retirement as the vice chancellor for business and finance at the end of 2017, Bill Nunez took her place as interim vice chancellor.

* Former UNL Chief Information Office Mark Askren moved to NU's central administration where he oversees system-wide IT operations as vice president for information technology.

* Finally, Mike Boehm was hired as NU vice president and UNL vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, replacing Green, who was tapped to become UNL’s 20th chancellor.

Green said the level of turnover was "not unusual after the retirement of a long-serving chancellor" like Perlman, who led UNL from 2001 until his retirement in 2016.

"And, nationally, there seems to be a trend of increased turnover among higher education leaders," Green said in a statement.

But the chancellor, nearing the end of his second full year in office, struck an optimistic beat, pointing to Wilhelm's hire to lead UNL's research and economic development enterprise.

"I am confident that our new and our existing leadership will build up on the university's heritage as the state's premier research, land-grant institution," he said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.


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