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   from the issue of February 22, 2007

'Dr. Tom' settles easily into new role


Tom Osborne enjoyed representing Nebraska - but something was missing in Washington.

TAKING ROLL - Students listen as Tom Osborne, former Congressman and retired Husker football coach, takes roll in a College of...
TAKING ROLL - Students listen as Tom Osborne, former Congressman and retired Husker football coach, takes roll in a College of Business Administration leadership course on Feb. 15. In addition to duties with the Creighton University athletics and the private business sector, Osborne is teaching two courses at UNL. Photo by Troy Fedderson/University Communications.

A return to UNL helped the Husker football icon connect with that one thing.

"I missed being in contact with college aged students when I was in Congress," Osborne said. "I enjoy being on the college campus and I enjoy working with young people. These folks are the future of our nation."

Following six years in the House of Representatives and a failed gubernatorial bid, Osborne is back at UNL as a senior lecturer in the College of Business Administration. He helps guide juniors and seniors through leadership and management courses - team teaching with CBA dean Cynthia Milligan and management professor Bruce Avolio in one class, and working with about 60 students on his own in the other.

When Eric Oldenkamp signed up for the course, he was excited to see T. Osborne listed as the instructor. He expected a lot of football talk, but has been pleasantly surprised by substance.

"I learn something new from Tom every day," said Oldenkamp, a senior business administration major from Omaha. "He is really a down-to-earth guy with an amazingly vast experience to draw from.

"He's just a really good professor."

Admittedly, Osborne said metaphors on athletics play a major role in his teachings. But, he's also able to draw upon experiences such as crafting legislation to help protect pensions following the collapse of Enron and his service on boards in the private business sector.

Of special interest to Osborne is reinforcement of business ethics.

"My experiences in athletics and with individual and corporate scandals while in Washington, have led me to have some definite concerns as far as the erosion of values in our society," Osborne said. "And, I'm reinforcing that students need to carefully think through what their value systems are, find out what is important to them.

"Leadership starts with your character. And, I think it's critical that students consider their value base during their college years."

As for the future, Osborne hopes to continue giving back to Nebraska - either here at UNL or through his many other activities, including the expansion of the TeamMates mentoring program, working with athletes at Creighton University and a new venture capital concept aimed at keeping business graduates in the central United States.

"I'm really not the kind of person built to sit back and do nothing," Osborne said. "Working with the students and helping UNL turn out well-grounded and well-prepared graduates is something I truly enjoy."



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