KEARNEY, Neb. — University leadership says it is not going to rush the process to find the next chancellor for the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

That’s according to Chris Kabourek, who becomes the interim president of the NU system on January 1. He says the university will take time to celebrate retiring chancellor Doug Kristensen and start formulating the search process after the holiday break.

“It’s more important to get the right person, than to get somebody in the seat quickly,” Kabourek said.

Kabourek, who has been with the university for more than 25 years and serves as CFO, says he will convene listening sessions at UNK and get input from the Board of Regents before setting a timeline. 

The regents are in the midst of a search for the next system president. Board Chairman Tim Clare told NCN in October that he expects a new president to be in place by the end of the first quarter of 2024. Kristensen told faculty and staff in his retirement announcement that he expects Kabourek to be the one to choose his successor. The interim president doesn’t want to commit to that just yet.

“Hopefully there will be opportunity where maybe (the new president), if they’re named soon enough, will have an opportunity to also opine on that," Kabourek said. "But we’re going to do what’s best for UNK.”

He does have some characteristics in mind that the next chancellor should possess.

“We want to find a leader who really gets UNK’s mission and how that fits into UNK’s mission and how that fits into the University of Nebraska system," Kabourek said. "We want to find somebody who loves Nebraska and understands the unique needs of our rural communities.”

While the search timeline is still murky, Kabourek says it’s clear the next chancellor is coming to a place with a strong foundation thanks to Kristensen’s 22 years of leadership.

“He truly loves Nebraska, he loves rural Nebraska, he loves the university and he loves his students," Kabourek said. "He’s team Nebraska all the way.”