UNL’s new arts and sciences dean hails from Utah, knows importance of support in achieving success

UNL’s new arts and sciences dean hails from Utah, knows importance of support in achieving success
Mark Button was named Monday as the UNL College of Arts and Sciences’ dean. COURTESY/UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA-LINCOLN

The new dean of arts and sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln knows that support is essential to success in higher education.

Mark Button was a first-generation college student — the first of his family to attend college — in the late 1980s and early 1990s at the University of Oregon.

Button was named dean of arts and sciences Monday at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He will start on July 1, pending NU Board of Regents approval. He currently is chairman of political science at the University of Utah.

“Like many first-generation college students today, any successes that I have had can be attributed to the encouragement and support of many other people,” Button said in an email. Those people include his professors, staffers who provided academic and career advice, and his wife, Sarah, who taught special education while he earned his doctorate at Rutgers University in New Jersey, he said.

He pledged to be an advocate for first-generation students at UNL.

He succeeds Joseph Francisco, who resigned as dean of the college last year. Elizabeth Theiss-Morse has served as interim dean since Francisco left.

Donde Plowman, UNL’s executive vice chancellor, made the announcement. “Mark has deep experience as a department executive officer, is an acclaimed scholar, and is committed and passionate for the liberal arts and land-grant missions,” Plowman said in a press release. Button has published two books dealing with political science.

The UNL College of Arts and Sciences contains a broad sweep of subjects, including sociology, physics, psychology, math, biological sciences and English.

Button said in an email that he has no direct ties to Nebraska “beyond my love for the works of Willa Cather and my admiration for the enduring support that the University receives from the citizens and state of Nebraska.”

Button will be paid $320,000 a year.