Bob Phares of North Platte is the new chairman of the governing board of the University of Nebraska. Phares was elected by the board Friday along with a slate of new officers for 2010.
Phares is president and owner of Phares Financial Services, a financial planning and services firm in North Platte. He was elected to the NU Board of Regents in 2006 after being appointed that August by Gov. Dave Heineman to fill a seat vacated by disgraced Regent Dave Hergert.
Phares wants to maintain a high level of communication among board members during challenging financial times.
"I don't like surprises and I don't think anyone does," he said. "We have a good board and a good set of strategic objectives."
"We are committed to keeping tuition at no more than 5 percent if it increases," Phares said. "We want to keep the momentum we have generated in managing the fiscal side of the house. These are challenging budget times. We want to keep all four NU campuses as vibrant as possible."
Enrollment is increasing at all campuses, he said.
Phares previously served as vice chairman of the board. He replaces Kent Schroeder of Kearney as chairman. The Regents elected Bob Whitehouse of Papillion as vice chairman. Whitehouse was also elected to the board in 2006. He was the principal of Bryan Senior High School in Omaha from 1987 to 2000.
New building at Curtis
The new Innovation Park in Lincoln, a separate campus that will be built someday on the old state fairgrounds, is still in the early stages, Phares said.
But new construction is set to begin in Curtis, where a new building will take shape this summer at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture -- the only new NU construction of the year.
The new education center will eventually double enrollment at NCTA. The groundbreaking should begin in late spring, at least by May or June, Phares said. The $16 million building will be completed by August 2011 and eventually accommodate another 300 students at the campus -- eventually pushing enrollment to 600.
Some changes in the design of education building were made by the Regents Friday.
The new building will be located at the main entrance and become the centerpiece of the campus, Phares said. It will house classrooms, veterinary laboratories and a lecture hall.
The original plan called for a new animal holding building on campus, but instead an existing historic dairy barn will be renovated to hold animals. It will connect to the campus’ veterinary hospital.
A private benefactor of NCTA -- George Garlick – will construct additional student housing in conjunction with the new education building.
Garlick has been a substantial college benefactor for some time. He recently renovated a Curtis nursing home, Sunset Haven, for college housing. Those rooms are in use this year.
NU officials are in the final stages of putting the agreement together for a brand new residence building, Phares said.
The plan is taking shape this way -- NU would lease the land to Garlick; Garlick will build the residence hall and lease the building back to NU for 15 years, then donate the residence to the college, Phares said.