Samuel J. Meisels, founding executive director of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska, has announced that he will retire in December 2022. Meisels’s retirement will cap a 50-year career culminating in his founding leadership of NU’s system-wide institute dedicated to the learning and development of young children.
Meisels came to Nebraska in 2013 to help start the Buffett Institute, launched with a gift from Omaha philanthropist Susie Buffett. The institute brings together the university’s four campuses on research, practice, policy and outreach focused on children from birth to grade 3, with an emphasis on vulnerable children and families. Two programs – Closing the Opportunity Gap and Elevating the Early Childhood Workforce – guide the institute’s work.
Located in Omaha, the Buffett Early Childhood Institute has been integral to the development and growth of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences' early childhood programming.
“In leading the Buffett Institute from vision to reality, Sam Meisels has brought invaluable attention to our state’s most vulnerable young children and their families as well as the professionals who provide their care and education,” said Ted Carter, NU system president. “I’m so proud of all that Sam and the institute have accomplished. We are well-positioned for the next chapter.”
Meisels, who holds the Richard D. Holland Presidential Chair in Early Childhood Development, said: “Coming to the University of Nebraska to launch the Buffett Early Childhood Institute has been the culmination of my career of research and service to children and families. We built the Buffett Institute in concert with many University of Nebraska and state partners to fulfill our vision of making Nebraska the best place in the nation to be a baby. I will watch with pride as the new executive director and the institute team continue to make this vision accessible for all of Nebraska’s children.”
In its eight-year history, the Buffett Institute has facilitated hundreds of early childhood-focused gatherings and produced research that has informed public policy discussions locally and nationally. Last year, the institute received the National Association of State Boards of Education’s Friend of Education Award for “significant and enduring” contributions to Pre-K-12 education.
Under Meisels’s leadership, the institute has also created endowed faculty positions across the four campuses, and has awarded fellowships of up to $25,000 to NU doctoral students. More information about the Buffett Institute’s achievements is available here.
Carter said the university will conduct a national search for Meisels’s successor. Details will be announced later.
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.