Right man for the times

Monday, May 3, 2004

These are tough times for Nebraska's university system. Because of the slowdown in the state's economy, the university system has been forced to endure four budget cuts in the last three years. And further challenges lie ahead, as the state struggles to find ways to pay for the nuclear waste site lawsuit and to confront tax collections which have been short of estimates.

Because of the problems, the race for the District 7 Regent's position takes on added importance. A voice of reason and experience is needed to help guide the Nebraska university system through the challenging times ahead.

Fortunately for the university and the people of Western Nebraska, Dr. Don Blank of McCook is offering himself as a candidate for a fourth term on the Board of Regents. Dr. Blank has served with distinction as a regent since 1986, and is the best choice to represent this area in the next six years.

He's in a tough race, with two of his opponents, Clark Anderson of Ogallala and David Hergert of Scottsbluff, pouring tens of thousands of dollars into their campaigns. Also on the ballot is another candidate from Ogallala, Frank Svoboda.

As he travels the campaign trail, Blank is emphasizing the importance of experience and his record of accomplishment. "I've worked hard for the university system and for Western Nebraska," he said, pointing out his efforts have:

* Kept the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture at Curtis a strong part of the university system;

* Saved the School of Nursing in Scottsbluff, and;

* Kept tuition rates down for the university's online courses. (Prior to Blank's efforts, the rates had been higher for Western Nebraska due to the distance factor).

In addition, Dr. Blank has been a strong supporter of the research centers in Scottsbluff and North Platte and the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory, a 12,000 acre working ranch and research facility operated by the university.

While standing up for this part of the state, Dr. Blank has also played an important role in keeping the university strong despite continuing budget pressures.

"When times are easy, serving on the Board of Regents is a piece of cake," Dr. Blank said. "But in times like these it takes experience, knowledge and a strong commitment to make the difficult decisions necessary to keep the university moving forward."

With six of the eight regents coming from university cities -- Lincoln, Omaha and Kearney -- it is exceedingly important that the remaining regents be strong, independent voices. Dr. Blank fulfills that responsibility. He has served us well as a regent for the past 18 years. He will continue to serve us well in the future.

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