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   from the issue of June 10, 2004

Milliken starts at NU Aug. 1

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents on May 22 selected James “J.B.” Milliken as president of the NU system. He begins his duties Aug. 1.


Since 1998, Milliken has been associated with the University of North Carolina, where most recently he was senior vice president for university affairs. He previously was vice president for public affairs and university advancement.

Before joining UNC, Milliken was vice president and corporate secretary for the University of Nebraska, joining NU in 1988. Before joining NU, Milliken practiced law in New York City at the firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. He has also worked in Washington as legislative assistant to Rep. Virginia Smith (R-Neb.). He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he earned a degree in English in 1979. He attended New York University School of Law, graduating in 1983.

Milliken, a native of Fremont, and his wife, Nana Smith, have three children.

At UNC, Milliken was responsible for state and federal government relations, communications, advancement, strategy development and policy analysis, and universitywide economic development activities. As senior vice president, Milliken worked closely with UNC’s board of governors, the president and other senior staff members to develop university strategy, policies and programs, and led UNC’s efforts to build partnerships across the sectors of education, business and government.

Molly Broad, president of UNC, said, “J.B. Milliken has been extraordinarily successful in building and strengthening the statewide and federal government relations infrastructure of the university. His departure is a loss to the entire state of North Carolina, and the University of Nebraska should consider itself extremely fortunate to have lured him back home.”

Milliken replaces L. Dennis Smith, who last fall announced his intention to retire on June 30. Smith’s contract was extended one month to July 31.

Milliken’s appointment is for three years, through July 31, 2007. His annual salary will be $270,000.

Milliken was one of four finalists interviewed the week of May 10. On May 18, the regents asked two finalists to return for more interviews: Milliken and Adm. James Ellis, a high-ranking officer at Offutt Air Force Base. Within the week, Ellis and a third candidate, Kim Robak, a current NU vice president, withdrew their candidacies. The fourth candidate was Peter Hoff, president of the University of Maine.

Milliken’s statements to the regents

The following statements are excerpted from Milliken’s acceptance address to the regents on May 22:

“I want to thank the members of the University of Nebraska community as well as all Nebraskans who participated in the on-site interviews during the search for a new president of the University of Nebraska. While the schedule was a bit daunting, it was also invigorating. I was excited by the sense of purpose of the hundreds of people who participated in meetings on the university’s campuses in Omaha, Kearney and Lincoln.

“The University of Nebraska has a rich and wonderful history. By the end of the 19th century, it was a leader in the sciences, literature, art and the law. It was home to great names like Bessey, Cather and Pound. It was considered one of the four great western universities, along with Michigan, Wisconsin and the University of California, Berkeley. The university, now with four campuses, each with its strengths and important role, is no less central to the life of the state today. In fact, I believe it would be impossible to overestimate the importance of the university to the future of the state. Their fates are intertwined. One cannot succeed without the other.

“I thank the Board of Regents for giving me the opportunity to help lead this great university. I am honored and humbled - but excited and energized - by the challenge. I look forward to sharing our excitement, our purpose and our aspirations with the citizens of Nebraska, so that all of us can share a vision of a four-campus University of Nebraska as the home of excellent teaching, research and scholarship, and outreach, engagement and health care that best serves the state of Nebraska.”



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