Episode 8 | 2018 Plans

Dec. 21, 2017

Show Notes:

In this episode of Catch Up With Chuck, RFI Founding Executive Director Chuck Schroeder announces his plans to retire in June 2018, as well as some of the plans for the Institute moving forward.

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Full Transcript:

[0:11] Good morning. [0:14] Welcome back to Catch Up With Chuck. [0:16] This is a periodic broadcast from [0:17] the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska.[0:21] Over the last several weeks, we’ve had the opportunity [0:24] to visit with people about things like [0:27] leadership development and diversity and service learning,[0:31] a lot of different issues that are important [0:34] to rural people in rural places. [0:36] Today, I’m gonna take a little bit more [0:39] of a personal approach and talk about my plans [0:41] and our plans for the Rural Futures Institute going forward.

[0:45] Over the last several months, my wife Cathy and I [0:47] have had a lot of thought and a lot of discussion [0:51] around questions of where are we [0:54] and where are we going with the rest of our lives.[0:57] Those are normal considerations for people [0:59] in their mid-60’s, but quite honestly, [1:02] we’ve had some things, some uncontrollable events [1:05] in our personal lives and our professional realm [1:09] that have caused me to take up those questions in earnest [1:12] and to conclude, quite honestly, that it is time [1:15] to make some changes by choice [1:17] rather than rolling along with the flow. [1:20] Thus, I’ve shared with Vice President Mike Beam, [1:24] that I plan to retire from the Rural Futures Institute [1:29] and the University of Nebraska as of June 30, 2018. [1:35] With a carefully considered strategic plan now in place [1:38] that we worked on for several months,[1:39] and at a point where we have a fairly drastically [1:44] reduced budget from state resources for the institute, [1:48] I think it’s an appropriate time for new leadership [1:51] to come into play here and really think about [1:55] how we execute our mission going forward in a fairly [1:59] significantly changed set of environment and resources. [2:04] So, while it’s time for the Rural Futures Institute [2:07] to do that, likewise, it’s time for me [2:10] to stop and think about how I’m gonna use [2:12] my strengths and talents and lifetime of experiences [2:16] to try to influence the world in which I live [2:19] for the time I have remaining in it. [2:21] So, over the next six months, I plan to be engaged [2:25] with our leadership here at the Rural Futures Institute, [2:28] as well as at the University of Nebraska, [2:31] thinking about how the institute looks going forward, [2:35] its programmatic thrust, and its funding. [2:38] Following that time, I’m gonna be spending [2:41] pretty much full time in my creative pursuits [2:45] around art and telling the stories [2:47] of elders from various cultures, which I believe [2:51] should have an important impact on our world going forward.

[2:56] Listen, I wanna say that I’m proud [2:58] of what our team has accomplished over the past four years [3:01] under the theme of harnessing the energy [3:05] of the University of Nebraska and its partners [3:08] to have a positive impact on human kind, which has now been [3:11] identified as the mission of the institute. [3:15] To that end, we’ve generated a number, [3:17] I think, of important accomplishments. [3:20] A national conference that attracted people [3:22] from 40 states and several other countries. [3:25] We’ve initiated 50 projects under [3:28] our competitive awards activities [3:31] that have covered a range of issues [3:34] from entrepreneurship in small business development,[3:38] leadership, diversity, broadband, a lot of different issues [3:43] that we know are critical to the life and success, [3:47] the thriving of rural communities. [3:49] We have launched our rural serviceship program [3:53] that now has been in 19 different communities [3:56] with 38 really outstanding undergraduate students [3:59] having a real world impact on challenges and opportunities [4:02] in those communities and learning,[4:05] both ourselves and with these students, [4:08] how to genuinely make a difference in the world. [4:11] We had six rural regional forums [4:14] in communities across Nebraska [4:17] highlighting success stories of people [4:20] who are breaking the myth about [4:22] why you can’t be successful in a rural community. [4:24] We think it’s had a real impact on those communities [4:27] who have made a decision to pursue their preferred futures [4:31] and we’ve helped them create a game plan to pursue it. [4:33] Our sponsorship of the Connecting Young Nebraskans Program [4:37] has been awfully important. [4:39] This network of young professionals [4:41] outside of Lincoln and Omaha, and now over 800 strong, [4:45] really tells the story in real terms about young people [4:51] who are living in, going to rural communities, [4:55] building businesses, advancing their careers, [4:58] raising their families, and getting engaged [5:01] in a community where they can really make a difference. [5:04] A lot of people think that’s not going on, [5:06] but we have the evidence to say it really is. [5:08] We’ve launched our Fellows Program here in 2017, [5:12] which has become a great asset to us [5:14] and we believe will be the core [5:16] of the Rural Futures Institute going forward. [5:19] It’s given us an opportunity to build a collection, [5:22] a universe if you will, of expertise [5:24] involving not only faculty across [5:28] the University of Nebraska campuses [5:30] and some other institutions, but also non-profit leaders, [5:33] business leaders, community leaders who are out there [5:37] making decisions, make a difference, [5:39] now coming together in this body to say, [5:41] “How can we use the resources available to us [5:46] through the University of Nebraska [5:48] and its partners to have an even greater impact [5:51] on communities going forward?”

[5:53] I wanna say as well, one of the things that you have seen [5:57] from the Rural Futures Institute over the last 12 months [6:00] is a heightened capacity for [6:03] communicating the voice of rural. [6:06] Things like Catch Up With Chuck and we have a number [6:10] of other things that have been initiated here [6:13] over the last year to really help tell the story [6:16] of real people who are out there creating change, [6:20] driving progress, reaching for a brighter future [6:24] for rural Nebraska, rural America, [6:27] and rural people around the world. [6:28] I think that’s an enormously important element [6:31] of our work going forward, so I would acknowledge [6:35] that RFI is perhaps an odd fit [6:38] within a traditional university. [6:40] We work with students, but we don’t generate credit hours. [6:43] We use faculty to have an impact on rural communities. [6:49] We don’t hire faculty. [6:51] We have generated a large number [6:54] of teaching and research projects [6:56] very directly related to rural community success. [7:00] We don’t generate federal grants [7:03] that common add to university coffers. [7:06] Our focus has been strictly on creating a palpable impact [7:11] on rural communities, leading toward our goal [7:15] of a thriving, high-touch, high-tech future [7:18] for rural Nebraska and the Great Plains by 2040.

[7:21] It’s interesting that others around the country [7:24] and around the world have recognized our efforts [7:27] to country rural communities through entrepreneurship, [7:31] business leadership, business transitions, [7:34] focusing on communities and the people within them, [7:36] recognizing their unique strengths, [7:39] their unique talents, and trying to bring resources to bare [7:42] to help those specific people in that specific community [7:46] to pursue their objectives and overcome their problems. [7:51] We have focused very strictly on the willing. [7:55] We focused on leaders and communities [7:56] who have made a decision that they want to move toward [8:00] higher ground, if you will, and we have tried [8:05] to bring resources to them, recognizing [8:07] that it’s not the where, it’s not the what, it’s who [8:12] in a community that in the end really make a difference. [8:14] So, just a few of those, the Japan Society, [8:17] we’ve had some discussion around that. [8:20] The Japan Society came to us asking that we would [8:23] help them develop a strategy for their country [8:27] to revitalize their rural sector. [8:29] We recently had contact from the University of Wyoming. [8:33] They too, they’re perhaps a step off of the Great Plains [8:38] on some people’s maps, we think they’re good neighbors, [8:41] so we’re gonna work with them. [8:42] They have made a decision. [8:44] They want to try to address their [8:46] rural sector in some unique ways. [8:47] They have come to the Rural Futures Institute [8:49] for some help in that regard. [8:51] Tufts University, one of the most revered [8:53] private universities in the country, located in Boston, [8:56] has come to us, they’ve asked us to come back [8:59] early next year for a lecture series [9:04] talking about our relatively unique approach [9:08] to encouraging rural development. [9:10] We have connections in Australia that in fact, [9:14] Jim Cavae is one of our fellows in our Fellows Program [9:17] who is a leading scholar in the rural sector in Australia, [9:21] again, recognizing the value of the work [9:24] of the Rural Futures Institute and addressing those issues.

[9:28] I wanna tell you that I believe rural Nebraska [9:30] and rural America need the Rural Futures Institute [9:32] to be strong, to be robust, to be diverse [9:37] in its strategic direction, be as strong as possible. [9:40] Our faculty, our staff, non-profit leaders, [9:43] business leaders, community leaders, and others [9:46] who have joined with us in this effort [9:48] really have brought remarkable talent, [9:51] energy, vision, and a powerful thrust [9:56] to rural people and places as we have tried [10:00] to address them through the Rural Futures Institute. [10:02] They’ve made a real difference in the lives of others. [10:05] I have to say that I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity [10:08] to have worked in their company over the last four years. [10:11] They’ve built a platform of success, [10:13] upon which I believe the next generation [10:17] of the Rural Futures Institute really can be built, [10:20] and I hope that they and you will seize the opportunity now [10:25] to see that the Rural Futures Institute continues. [10:28] People who recognize its value will have [10:32] the opportunity to shape it going forward.

[10:34] Well, look, we know that change is at once challenging, [10:38] it’s intimidating, it’s invigorating, [10:41] it’s opportunity laden. [10:43] It’s a time for choices. [10:45] If you believe in the work of the Rural Futures Institute, [10:47] I hope you will make that known in the months ahead. [10:50] Your support is important. [10:52] We’re gonna be looking for resources to make sure [10:56] that this work not only continues, but grows, expands, [11:00] continues to be something that can create [11:03] that palpable impact on rural communities, [11:07] the rural sector which continues to be an important fiber [11:11] in the fabric of America, and I would argue, [11:14] in the lives of people of good will around the world. [11:18] You have the power to pursue your preferred future [11:22] through the Rural Futures Institute, [11:24] I hope that you’ll use it.

[11:25] Listen, that’ sit for this addition of Catch Up With Chuck. [11:29] We’re gonna be back in the weeks ahead looking at issues. [11:32] We have some fun guests that are coming in [11:35] to join us in those discussions, I hope you’ll tune in, [11:39] and always believe that rural communities [11:42] can be that preferred place for people [11:46] who want to live in a way that makes a difference. [11:49] Thank you.


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