A wide majority of faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln say they support the priority candidate to become the next leader of the university system, according to an internal poll.
The NU Board of Regents will vote to confirm Ted Carter as the eighth president of the university Thursday about five weeks after he was named as the lone finalist for the position.
Carter, 60, the former superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, underwent a 30-day vetting period that included stops at all four NU campuses — in Lincoln, Omaha and Kearney and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis — as well as communities throughout the state.
Following Carter’s visit to UNL, the Faculty Senate polled the entire faculty for their level of support in Carter’s candidacy for president.
The results, according to a letter sent to Regent Tim Clare of Lincoln on Nov. 23, indicate that, of the faculty who had an opinion:
* 18.6% said they strongly support Carter as the next president.
* 22.4% said they support the regents’ choice.
* 29.5% said they support Carter, but with reservations.
* 22.4% oppose his candidacy.
* 7.1% strongly oppose Carter as the next president.
Eighteen percent of faculty said they have no opinion.
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“The results of this poll, along with the interactions between candidate Carter and faculty, lead us to support with reservations the confirmation of candidate Carter as the next President of the University of Nebraska,” reads the letter, signed by UNL Faculty Senate President Kevin Hanrahan.
Faculty said they were encouraged by Carter’s “strong and unequivocal response” on questions about supporting students who are LGBT, and appreciate his commitment to recognizing and valuing sexual and gender diversity.
UNL’s faculty also said they appreciated Carter’s consistent comments about “respecting and valuing academic freedom and free speech,” as well as his insistence on the need to remove UNL from the Censure List maintained by the American Association of University Professors.
The state’s largest public university landed on the list in 2018 after an investigation determined administrators had caved under political pressure and removed a graduate student and lecturer from her position without a hearing.
While the UNL faculty commended Carter on his position regarding the AAUP, they also expressed reservations about the dismissal and later reinstatement of a Naval Academy professor following a student complaint. That faculty member, Bruce Fleming, has been critical of Carter’s appointment to NU’s top job.
The letter also says while Carter has never served in a regular faculty appointment and does not hold the rank of full professor with tenure, the faculty encourage him to reach out to and work with the faculty senates on each campus.
It also asks Carter to honor the shared-governance system of the university and work to include faculty more in the decision-making process.
“We look forward to working with him and the board to ensure his and the University of Nebraska’s continued success.”
Carter said in a phone interview Tuesday night that if confirmed when regents convene Thursday, he plans to quickly arrange a meeting with faculty leadership.
“I want them to know I’m their champion, I want to be in support of who they are and what they do,” he said.
While he had not read the letter sent by the UNL Faculty Senate, Carter said he had been told of its content and was excited for the opportunity to collaborate.
“I was humbled by how much support was in it and how much I need to continue listening to the faculty senates and other shared governance committees,” he said.