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Kristensen set to retire after 22 years as chancellor

Courtesy Photo

Doug Kristensen, UNK’s longest-serving chancellor, announced that he will be stepping away from his position after 22 years.  

He is also the longest currently serving leader of any higher education institution in Nebraska. Kristensen will leave his position at the end of the academic year. 

“Central Nebraska is home to me,” Kristensen said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better place to live, work and raise our family. It has been a great privilege to be part of a community that cares so deeply about UNK and the University of Nebraska’s mission to educate the people of our state.” 

Kristensen “intends to remain engaged on strategic projects within the university community” beyond his departure.  

For 14 years before becoming UNK’s chancellor, Kristensen represented Nebraska’s 37th legislative district. Kristensen was the longest-serving speaker in the history of the Legislature when he retired from office. 

Galen Hadley, who also served in the Nebraska Legislature, was interim senior vice chancellor for academic affairs when Kristensen was appointed in 2002. 

“It will be tough to find a chancellor that has the relationships with people on campus, with people in the community and with political people in the state,” Hadley said. “Doug has so many connections that have benefitted UNK. It’s going to take a new chancellor quite a bit of time to learn those connections.” 

Hadley said the two helped each other with transitions between higher education and the legislature. 

“He was a great legislator and he was a great chancellor,” Hadley said. “He combined the best in two different worlds and he succeeded greatly in both.” 

Bev Mathiesen, executive assistant to the chancellor and liaison to the office of the president, has been at UNK since 1972 and worked for the chancellor.  

Since Kristensen’s start at UNK, Mathiesen has seen the impact he’s left on campus. 

“In the last 22 years, I think everything has changed, and I think it needed to change,” Mathiesen said. “I think it’s on an upward trajectory. Part of that is because of the chancellor’s vision and his passion for the campus.” 

Mathiesen still recalls Kristensen’s start as chancellor. 

“His inauguration speech was long ago and the only thing I truly remember from it was his philosophy that said, ‘Never let good enough be good enough,”’ Mathiesen said. “And I think that shows.” 

Kristensen received his bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from UNL and Doctor of Jurisprudence from Drake University. Including his wife, Terri, and two daughters, Morgan and Paige, the family holds degrees from each campus of the Nebraska University system. 

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Jenna Heinz
Jenna Heinz, Reporter
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Rachel Ostdiek, Executive Editor
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