After seven years of being the University of Nebraska-Lincoln chancellor, Ronnie Green will retire at the end of June.
Green sent an email to UNL students and faculty in December announcing that he would step down. The email included a four-minute video of him and his wife, Jane, stating their decision to depart from the public-facing life.
In an interview with the Nebraska News Service, Green said it was time, for him and for UNL.
“We thought very carefully about it,” Green said. “We thought very carefully about where the university is, in its trajectory, and made the decision that it’s time for us personally and the institution.”
Green said stepping down will let him focus on his family. The couple has two sons, Justin and Nate, and two daughters, Kelli and Regan. Jane and all four kids went to UNL and are now alumni. Ronnie and Jane also have a 10-year-old granddaughter named Charlotte, with another grandchild on the way.
“We really want to have the opportunity to really focus in more with our family than I’ve had,” Green said.
Before returning to Nebraska in 2013, Green was a lay pastor, which is a pastor with minimal to no pay and has no higher ministry education. Green hasn’t been a lay pastor for the last 10 years and is “kind of eager to get back to doing that kind of work.” He said he has done a combination of many things in the past. He preached about family, taught at bible studies, and helped with a spiritual retreat program along with his wife.
“That’s something I really want to spend more time on,” Green said.
Jake Drake, a senior at UNL and former ASUN president, worked a lot with Green during his term. Drake saw Green at least once a week, whether it would be at dinners, fundraising events, or events hosted by the university.
As student body president, Drake would have official meetings every other month in which Green and the student body committee would be in attendance. The meetings would take place right after meetings of the NU Board of Regents, the elected governing body of the university system. They would discuss what was talked about at the regents meeting, and Green would answer questions from Drake and the committee.
“We have very similar approaches to things,” Drake said. “He (Green) is a very measured, strategic, straight-forward kind of guy and that’s what I appreciated, and that’s an approach I try to emulate with him.”
Drake said becoming student body president was rough, but Green made his transition into the role “really easy.” Green helped Drake by showing him how to mingle with people at events and how to be a better advocate.
Drake said Green’s term as chancellor has been very supportive towards students.
“I always felt that I was having a good empowered Husker experience, and a good education,” Drake said.
Green has been chancellor since July 2016. He said his proudest accomplishment as chancellor is seeing the number of students who have graduated with a UNL degree. From Aug. 2016 to Dec. 2022, 36,038 degrees were conferred. The university set records in three of the last five years in the number of degrees being conferred: 5,448 degrees in the 2017-18 school year, 5,868 in 2018-19, and 5,869 in 2020-21.
“Knowing that they (the students) received a very high-quality education from a very high quality institution … preparing to go into the world with that education,” Green said.
Richard Moberly, dean of the UNL College of Law, has been close work friends with Green since the chancellor hired Moberly to become the interim dean of the college in 2016.
Moberly talked to Nebraska News Service about his first interaction with Green. His first time meeting Green was when he was getting interviewed on East Campus for the interim dean role.
“He’s just an immediately likable, personable leader,” Moberly said. “He’s not a standoffish person at all, so I think we quickly hit it off.”
As part of Moberly’s job, he would report to the Executive Vice Chancellor, who is currently Katherine Ankerson, who would then relay Moberly’s report to Green.
“I think he really appreciates hearing from deans and being engaged with deans, and not in a way that undermines (the) chain of command, but just in a way to kind of know what’s going on the ground and out of the colleges,” Moberly said.
Moberly believes Green has done a lot in the last seven years, such as working during COVID-19 and creating future plans. Moberly also said Green built many relationships and supported those who had to make tough decisions.
“I loved his leadership,” Moberly said. “I think he is strategic. I think he is a consensus builder, which I appreciate.”
Following retirement, Ronnie and Jane Green plan to remain living in Lincoln, and Green said they will continue to support the university in any way they can.