University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds informed the university community Monday that after nearly four years leading NU through a period of transformational collaboration and momentum, he is stepping away from administration to transition to other educational and consulting work.
Bounds, a Mississippi native who became NU’s seventh president on April 13, 2015, will step down late this summer and return to the South with his family. Bounds said that after more than 20 years in executive roles, he had decided to spend his time differently going forward.
“Growing up, I never dreamed I would even go to college, much less have the opportunity to work with some of the most talented students, faculty and staff in the world,” he said. “To have been entrusted with this role by the Board of Regents is the privilege of a lifetime.
“While rewarding, this job has also been personally demanding. I have done everything I could to serve our students and the people of Nebraska effectively. Now it’s time to recharge and reconnect with my family.”
Praising the Board, chancellors, the NU and campus leadership teams, and the university’s faculty, staff, and 52,000 students, Bounds added: “I will leave knowing that the university is in good hands. When I began this job, I said the University of Nebraska had the power to change the world. With appropriate support from our partners in state government, the University can be even more impactful than ever.”
Board of Regents Chairman Tim Clare of Lincoln thanked Bounds for his leadership through times of opportunity and challenge.
“We could not have asked for a better leader than Hank Bounds. He was a tireless leader who always put the university’s interests first,” Clare said. “Hank was the right person, at the right time, for our university, and we will forever be indebted for his great work.
“Selfishly, we are despondent to see Hank and Susie leave the University, particularly after all the heavy lifting they have done to put NU in a great position. We did everything we could to change their minds, but in the end, we understand and appreciate their decision. As a husband and parent myself, I know how important it is to put family first.”
Regent Jim Pillen of Columbus, vice chairman of the Board, added: “I accepted Hank’s decision with mixed emotions. I’m happy for him and his family, but his departure is a loss for our university and state. Nevertheless, we, the Board, are full steam ahead with the priorities of collaboration, efficiency and effectiveness that Hank has put in place. Thanks to Hank, the future of our university is strong.”
Bounds came to the University of Nebraska after serving as Mississippi’s commissioner of higher education. Before that, he was a high school teacher, principal, superintendent and chief state school officer. Bounds grew up on his family’s small farm in rural Mississippi, and his service in the Army National Guard helped him pay for college.
Clare said the Board will meet soon to determine the appropriate path forward for the University of Nebraska.