UNO has announced that Wayne Watkins, BSME, MBA, JD, will serve as the next executive director of the Scott Scholars Program starting Thursday, Aug. 1.
In this role, Watkins will provide support for recipients of the prestigious Walter Scott, Jr., Scholarship, which provides funding for students enrolled in University of Nebraska STEM-related degree programs administered on the UNO campus.
Prior to joining UNO and the Scott Scholars Program, Watkins served in a wide variety of executive positions across the business and higher education industries. This includes serving as CEO of Honeyville, Inc., a family-owned food manufacturing firm; president of Frontier Scientific/Echelon Biosciences; vice president of the University of Akron Research Foundation; and director of technology commercialization at Utah State University.
"We are incredibly pleased to welcome Mr. Wayne Watkins to the UNO Maverick Family as the executive director of the Scott Scholars Program,” UNO Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., said. “His considerable expertise leading both public and private organizations in the academic and corporate sectors will be valuable assets to both the Scott Scholars and to the Omaha community. His leadership will be critical to ensuring that the students are equipped with the highest level of technical and business skills necessary to continue to lead positive change in our Nebraska corporations and communities that we serve.”
This announcement follows a national search to fill the role of executive director for the important scholarship program, which has supported students from across Nebraska in STEM-related degree programs since 1997. In that time, hundreds of students from UNO and UNL, in particular, have earned degrees and gone on to be workforce leaders in Omaha and beyond.
“The Scott Scholars students have always been outstanding, and many have gone on to do amazing things,” said Walter Scott, Jr., former CEO of Peter Kiewit Sons’ and founder of the Scott Scholars Program. “Wayne’s leadership will take the program to the next level by attracting our top talent and leveraging it toward building a more prosperous community and state.
As executive director, Watkins will work closely with community and business leaders to forge partnerships and workforce development opportunities that leverage the high quality STEM education provided across the University of Nebraska system. Additionally, Watkins will serve as the Scott Scholars Program's chief recruiter - identifying young Nebraskans poised to excel academically and provide future leadership in creating new businesses, products and services to contribute to communities across the state.
In addition to his executive experience, Watkins has taught a variety of university-level courses on topics ranging from intellectual property and entrepreneurial studies to global business and business policy. He is the co-author of the book "How to Invent and Protect Your Invention: A Guide to Patents for Scientists and Engineers," and has provided testimony to the United States Congress on university technology commercialization.
ABOUT THE SCOTT SCHOLARS PROGRAM
The Suzanne & Walter Scott Foundation launched The Walter Scott, Jr. Scholarship Program in 1997 to challenge high-achieving Engineering and Information Science students from across Nebraska to develop their technical, creative and leadership skills.
Each year, approximately 130 Scott Scholars come to Omaha and receive support in the form of tuition, fee and books; room and board; tailored academic and career support; leadership development skills; and community engagement opportunities.
In 2019, graduating members of the Scott Scholars Program had the opportunity to attend the Aspen Institute's Cyber Summit to meet with cybersecurity experts, work internationally on building conservation efforts and support U.S. Strategic Command on identifying fallen POW/MIA military members, just to name a few examples of the opportunities provided by the program.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.