Thomas C. Sorensen Seminar: Forum for Political Leadership 2002


This Forum for Political Leadership is an effort to address the difficulties in enabling capable men and women to enter public life. Each election cycle, residents of Nebraska express concern about the shortage of candidates for both elected public office and volunteer positions, while potential candidates express reluctance toward assuming the burdens of political office. Others who consider becoming active express the need for assistance in developing the abilities to be responsible and effective leaders, especially in the current environment where expensive, media-intensive campaigns have rendered the public increasingly distrustful and cynical about the election process. This seminar tackled these issues by providing potential public servants with the information necessary to enter public life.

Seminar leaders:
Stephen Buhler is an associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has been the project convener for the University’s Leadership for Institutional Change (LINC) initiative, funded by the Kellogg Foundation, since 1999. He received a Ph.D. in English from UCLA. Dr. Buhler is the author of Shakespeare in the Cinema: Ocular Proof and of several articles dealing with literature, performance, and teaching. He has given talks based on his research–and on his experiences as a high school and college educator–for local organizations, regional schools, and international conferences. His community involvement has included giving commentaries over the Nebraska Public Radio Network, along with serving on the Strategy Team of Nebraska Network 21, the Advisory Board for Prairie Schooner, and the Board of Directors for the Lincoln Community Playhouse. In 1999, he was inducted into UNL’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers and was the recipient of an Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA) from the University of Nebraska state-wide system.

Scott Moore is the director of Government Affairs for Union Pacific Corp. He is the former Nebraska Secretary of State from 1995 to 2000, serving as the chief election officer, chair of Nebraska Brand Committee, chair of the State Real Estate Commission, and secretary of the State Canvassing Board. Former Secretary of State Moore was a senate page who rose to be a state senator, representing the 24th district from 1986 to 1994. While in the Senate, he served as chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Mr. Moore has a B.A. in political science from the University of Nebraska­-Lincoln.

Irv Omtvedt is vice president emeritus for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska, vice chancellor emeritus for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska­-Lincoln, and professor emeritus of Animal Science. He received his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin­-Madison and M.S. and Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University. Dr. Omtvedt joined UNL in 1975 as head of the Department of Animal Science. Prior to being appointed IANR vice chancellor in 1988, he served five years as dean for Agricultural Research at UNL. In addition, he served as interim senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs in 1996­97 and served as the vice chancellor for Extended Education from 1997­99.

Kim Robak is the vice president for External Affairs and corporation secretary to the Nebraska University Board of Regents. She was Nebraska lieutenant governor from 1993 to 1998. Prior to her appointment, former Lieutenant Governor Robak was chief of staff to Governor Ben Nelson and legal counsel to the governor. She also was a partner in Remboldt, Ludtke, Parker, and Berger law firm and a teacher in the Lincoln Public School system. While lieutenant governor, she served as chair of the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors as well as director of the National Foundation of Women Legislators. Former Lieutenant Governor Robak was the 1998 winner of the George H. Turner Award for Public Service. Ms. Robak has a B.A. from the University of Nebraska-­Lincoln and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law.