Remembering Ronald Roskens


Sara Meadows

The Maverick community mourns the loss of former Chancellor Ronald W. Roskens, Ph.D. Photo courtesy of UNO News Center.

Former UNO Chancellor Ronald W. Roskens passed away on Sunday, Feb. 27, at the age of 89.

Roskens served as UNO’s Chancellor from 1972 to 1977, then became president of the University of Nebraska System until 1989. He had an incredible impact on the university for half a century and continued to be involved up until his passing.

The UNO flag was lowered on March 2 in Roskens’ memory.

“The life of Ronald Roskens teaches us valuable lessons of what it means to be a part of a community,” UNO Chancellor Joanne Li said. “At home, he was a proud advocate for the University of Nebraska at Omaha and understood the power an education has to change lives. Abroad, he built friendships on behalf of our university and the United States that made the world a better place. It is my hope that in the coming days, we take time to learn more about his contributions to our world so that we can embody his spirit of service.”

“The life of Ronald Roskens teaches us valuable lessons of what it means to be a part of a community.” Photo courtesy of UNO News Center.

Roskens’ UNO journey started when he was announced by then-NU system president D.B. Varner as the newest chancellor, replacing Kirk Naylor. His focus was to plant a flag for UNO to serve not only the city of Omaha, but the state of Nebraska and the world.

Within five years of being chancellor, Roskens oversaw major developments including the creation of the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, the founding of the Goodrich Scholarship Program, the formation of the Department of Black Studies and many more.

Roskens also had an international impact through his role as the president of the University of Nebraska system. During his time as president, he opened Nebraska to the world by establishing a continued relationship between the state and China.

His work eventually led him to a role where he served as Omaha’s honorary consul general of Japan from 1999 to 2009. In 2010, he was recognized by the emperor of Japan with the award of the Order of the Rising Sun, which is one of Japan’s highest awards to foreign nations.

The thoughts of the entire Maverick community are with the Roskens family during this difficult time. We remember the legacy of Chancellor Ronald Roskens as an educator, a leader, an innovator and a Maverick.