Prior to taking on the role of chancellor, Ronnie Green had a history of engaging the people of Nebraska with the work of the University. Now he wants to build on that by introducing University leaders to more Nebraskans and talk about the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's (UNL) vision for continued growth as well as the College of Architecture in ways that make sense for the state of Nebraska. This summer, several members of the University's administration are traveling across the state to visit and tour local communities including Katherine Ankerson, the new College of Architecture Dean.
Ankerson and Green believe there's no substitute for face-to-face conversation, so that's why they have made it a top priority this summer to branch out across the state and talk with various communities. Ankerson's destinations include the communities of McCook, Red Cloud and Imperial. The College hopes to build on existing ties and create new relationships and opportunities for mutual growth.
One major topic of discussion at these community meetings will likely be collaborations. Recently, UNL's Landscape Architecture program received a 2016-18 Rural Futures Research Grant which includes the communities of McCook and Red Cloud but has the possibility to be scaled up to serve any willing rural community in Nebraska. Working with an interdisciplinary team, the Landscape Architecture department will focus on building a resource network for the development of a regional, cultural, heritage tourism initiative for rural Nebraska communities.
The first town on the trip itinerary is Imperial, Nebraska, where Ankerson will visit with the Rotary Club at M & M's Natural Jaz, Tuesday, Aug. 9th, at noon to talk about community concerns and goals. Ankerson intends to explore student service learning opportunities with Imperial's Comprehensive Plan 2014-2024. Project possibilities such as the beautification of gateway corridors along Hwy 6 and 61 have long been the focal point of community discussions.
Next on Ankerson's list will be a visit with McCook's Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development at the Keystone Business Center at 5pm. The Rural Futures Research Grant and the Norris Foundation's arboretum project are topics on Ankerson's agenda.
Early Wednesday morning, Ankerson will meet with the Willa Cather Foundation at the Red Cloud Opera House at 10am. The College has enjoyed strong community ties with Red Cloud including a great partnership with the Willa Cather Foundation. For the last three years, the College's Responsible Design Learning Community, a faculty-led, student group, has traveled to Red Cloud for a two-day, educational trip learning how the town of Red Cloud inspired the literary works of Willa Cather and the role that location plays in heritage tourism. The students conclude their visit with a service learning project which usually involves painting or fixing one of the many historical buildings in Red Cloud.
After visiting with the Foundation about their ongoing partnership, Ankerson will explore future growth possibilities including the Rural Futures Research Grant. Later Ankerson will have lunch at the Kaley House with members of the Red Cloud Community Foundation Fund Advisory Committee and its Heritage Tourism Advisory Committee and conclude her visit with a driving tour of Red Cloud and the Starke Round Barn.
"I'm eager to engage with our community and take a look at issues with new perspectives," commented Ankerson. "You meet the most intriguing people and what develops from these encounters never ceases to amaze me."