The University of Nebraska stands tall as a pillar for our state, helping young minds develop and providing vital support for agriculture and natural resources management. L. Dennis Smith, who died this week, demonstrated key leadership to help NU move forward during his time as the system’s president from 1994 to 2004.
With a background in zoology and chemistry, he was stalwart in championing high standards for NU research and academic quality. To enable that success, he devoted impressive energy to causes such as the Campaign Nebraska fundraising that yielded $727 million for scholarships, faculty endowed chairs, facilities and other needs. Smith’s advocacy was crucial in winning passage of Legislative Bill 1100 in 1998 to help NU address a host of deferred maintenance needs.
The public-private partnerships that have taken on such tremendous importance in Nebraska life in the 21st century had their origins in key NU projects launched during Smith’s time as president: the Gallup Leadership Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the Peter Kiewit Institute, bringing together world-class technology talent from UNL and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
NU has maintained its strong role in the life of Nebraska thanks to dedicated figures such as L. Dennis Smith. His past leadership has helped enable the successes seen today.