UNMC Vice Chancellor Leuenberger to step down in July


by Tom O’Connor, UNMC


OMAHA, Neb. (May 28, 2015)—A key figure in the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s dramatic growth over the past three decades, Don Leuenberger announced today that he will step down in July as vice chancellor for business and finance.

In his role as vice chancellor, Leuenberger, 70, was responsible for all campus facilities, budget, human resources, information technology, finance/business services, security and legal service. More than 600 people are included in these departments.

During Leuenberger’s 27 years as vice chancellor, building space on campus has more than tripled, going from 2.3 million sq. ft. in 1988 to more than 7.1 million sq. ft. (including 837,000 sq. ft. of building space under construction).

“Don has had an outstanding career,” said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold. “I feel very fortunate to have had him on our leadership team.  He wore many different hats and has an amazing blend of talents. I continue to look forward to working with Don as he takes on a new role.”

Dr. Gold said Leuenberger will continue to be involved in several of UNMC’s key initiatives including relations with China and in economic and community development.

Dr. Gold said a national search will be conducted to fill the vice chancellor position.

Among some of the highlights during Leuenberger’s tenure were:

  • Development of an academic campus in which all colleges/academic facilities were located on the east end of campus in close proximity to the Ruth and Bill Scott Student Plaza;
  • Complete overhaul of antiquated research facilities with the creation of two research towers on the west end of campus – the Durham Research Center and Durham Research Center II;
  • Ongoing construction of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, the largest construction project in the history of the University of Nebraska (the $323 million project is scheduled for completion in 2017);
  • Being instrumental in UNMC developing a strong presence in China by forging partnerships with several Chinese universities and institutions; and
  • Being instrumental in UNMC’s economic development role in Omaha and Nebraska.

“It’s been a privilege to be a part of the growth of the campus,” Leuenberger said. “We’ve transformed from a relatively small, Midwest academic medical center to one with a growing national and international presence. The physical growth of the campus is just emblematic of the growth in excellence in all areas on the campus and the overwhelming support we have received from the state and the community.

“When you look at anyone’s legacy, I think you have to look at the people with whom you have worked. I’ve been privileged to have worked with and recruited some outstanding leaders on campus. They, in turn, have recruited and mentored others – many of whom will have a significant impact on UNMC for decades to come.

“Most importantly, we have established a reputation within the entire university for innovation, capability and integrity – and always providing quality service. That means everything to me.”

Complacency will not be an issue in the next phase of his life, he said. An avid bicyclist, Leuenberger plans to ride in RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride across Iowa) on July 17-23. It will be the seventh consecutive year he has rode in the event.

A fixture in State Capitol

Don Leuenberger’s name is widely known in the halls of the Nebraska State Capitol building.

Working in the Nebraska State Budget Office and as state tax commissioner for the Nebraska Department of Revenue, he served on the staffs of five Nebraska governors and the cabinets of four. They included Norbert Tiemann (staff only), James Exon, Charles Thone, Kay Orr and Ben Nelson.

Between 1995-1998, Leuenberger took a leave of absence from UNMC to serve as director of social services/policy secretary for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. In this role, he led a massive reorganization effort involving the merger of five state agencies.

At UNMC, his career spanned five different chancellors – Charles Andrews, M.D., Carol Aschenbrener, M.D., William Berndt, Ph.D., Harold M. Maurer, M.D., and Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

The Leuenberger File


  • B.A., Indiana State University, 1967
  • M.A., University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1969

Work Experience:

  • 1969-1981, Nebraska State Budget Office
  • 1981-1983, state tax commissioner, Nebraska Department of Revenue
  • 1983-1986, assistant vice president and director of university-wide computing, University of Nebraska – Central Administration
  • 1987-1988, state tax commissioner, Nebraska Department of Revenue
  • 1988- present, vice chancellor for business and finance, UNMC
  • 1995-1998, director of social services/policy secretary, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (leave of absence from UNMC)


  • 1979 – Governor’s nominee for the National Governors Associated Distinguished Services to State Government Award
  • 1981 – Governor’s nominee for the Distinguished Leadership Award of the Association of Government Accountants
  • 1997 – First recipient, UNL College of Arts & Sciences Alumni Achievement Award
  • 2005 – William M. Kizer Leadership Award, Wellness Council of the Midlands

Professional Activities:

  • 2006-present, chairman of the board, UNeMed, UNMC’s technology transfer company
  • 2001-2010, board of directors, United Way of the Midlands (also served on Executive Committee and as chair of the Planning and Allocation Committee)
  • 2008 – board of directors, Biomedical Technology Transfer Corp. (BioTT)
  • 2003 – involved in the organization and launch of Destination Midtown, a program to help define future development and growth for the Midtown Omaha area
  • 1993-present, secretary/treasurer, board of directors of UNeHealth, a non-profit corporation involved in enhancing and supporting the clinical research mission of UNMC
  • 1988-1989, member, State School Finance Review Committee
  • 1990-1995, member and chair, State School Finance Commission

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