A professor at South Dakota State University has been named the first director of Rural Prosperity Nebraska, a new program in the UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Dr Mary Emery was one of 3 finalists who received on-campus interviews earlier this fall. She will start February 15 and also serve as a professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications.
Launched last year, Rural Prosperity Nebraska combines the scholarship UNL professors and researchers with the on-the-ground expertise of extension educators to strengthen activity and quality of life in Nebraska’s rural communities.
Department head and search advisory committee member Mark Balschweid says the “caliber of candidates who applied was outstanding, yet Mary stood out in her capacity to understand the challenges rural communities face and how to help those communities turn their struggles into opportunities for growth.”
Emery has been a professor of psychology, sociology, and rural studies at SDSU since 2011 with a focus on community and economic development, community change, program planning, and diversity, inclusion and equity in higher education.
Before that she was a faculty chair at Iowa State and senior associate for the Heartland Center for Leadership Development in Lincoln.
University of Nebraska President Ted Carter’s 5-year strategic plan released last year names rural development as one of 5 areas in which the university will focus its efforts to cultivate partnerships and grow its impact.
Although Emery will run Rural Prosperity Nebraska, a second key leadership position – program leader – has yet to be filled. That position will be housed at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte.