University of Nebraska’s Ted Carter is named the next president at Ohio State

Carter had just been granted $144,000 bonus for work in 2022-23 at NU
NU system President Ted Carter, the former superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy and a vice admiral, was named the next president at The Ohio State.
Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 12:40 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2023 at 5:38 PM CDT
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Editor’s Note: This story has been revised to add comments from the Ohio State Board of Trustees and reflect that Ted Carter was selected. It also added comments from Carter.

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) - The University of Nebraska needs a new president next year.

NU system President Ted Carter, the former superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy and a vice admiral, was named the next president at The Ohio State University in Columbus. He will start in January 2024.

Ohio State University’s Board of Trustees unanimously selected Carter during an afternoon meeting at 2 p.m. Eastern.

Hiroyuki Fujita, the board chairman, and John Zieger, its vice chair, lauded him as a man of integrity and experience.

“We needed to find a candidate that all seven members of the search committee could be excited about endorsing,” Zieger said. “We have identified a candidate in Ted Carter … that exemplifies those qualities.”

Carter, in brief comments in Columbus, said he was “humbled” by “the greatest honor of my career.” He touted the university’s focus on education for citizenship and service to the greater good.

He also hinted at headwinds facing higher education — and education in general.

“I know that education across our nation is somewhat under attack, and I believe that Ohio State University is that institution that can change the course of that dialogue,” Carter said.

In a brief note to faculty and staff Tuesday, Carter wrote that leaving Nebraska was “bittersweet.” He said he and his wife Lynda were welcomed by people from “a special place,” one with a university that “is achieving great things for the state and the world.”

“We make this decision knowing the University of Nebraska is in excellent hands …,” Carter wrote. “This moment in our history is too important to let our momentum stall.”

Privately confirmed

Earlier Tuesday, multiple people informed this week of Carter’s pending departure had confirmed the hiring first to the Nebraska Examiner. Ohio State’s trustees had to vote to make the offer final.

Members of the NU Board of Regents reached Tuesday either declined to comment or did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Representatives of the University of Nebraska system did not immediately return calls or messages seeking comment.

Helped bridge political divide

Carter just received a positive evaluation of his work during the 2022-23 academic year, including notice that he would receive a $144,000 bonus. His total annual compensation at NU, including extras and benefits, is more than $1.2 million.

The regents cited his work boosting a private fundraising campaign to raise $3 billion, his efforts to secure more state funding for NU than Gov. Jim Pillen, a former regent, proposed in his first state budget. They also mentioned increased research funding and improved retention rates for young students.

Carter said he would donate that bonus to charity, partly because the university’s campuses in Curtis, Kearney, Lincoln and Omaha are coping with a $58 million budget shortfall, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

The NU president helped launch the Nebraska Promise program that helped low- and middle-income Nebraskans attend NU tuition-free. He has been working on a five-year plan to improve the university system. He also helped the campus navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carter made waves in Nebraska with his ability to persuade conservative and liberal constituencies about the value of investing state and private resources in higher education, several political observers said.

State changing

But the state has changed since he arrived in January 2020. A more conservative Legislature increasingly puts university spending and actions in the political crosshairs. including public spats between former Gov. Pete Ricketts and former University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green.

Carter also defended academic freedom in 2021 when Pillen, then a member of the NU Board of Regents running for governor, tried to pass a resolution banning the imposition of critical race theory on NU campuses. The resolution failed.

Carter has answered some of those changes by trading on the trust he had earned and, as his critics explained, consolidating power in the president’s office.

The most recent example came in June, when the NU Board of Regents unanimously moved final decision-making authority over Husker athletics under Carter instead of under the UNL chancellor.

New UNL Chancellor Rodney Bennett, in a tweet, thanked Carter for his leadership and said he has “helped the NU system build toward a brighter future.” He said he looked forward to seeing Carter again when the Huskers and Buckeyes compete in Big Ten athletics.

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