Thomas C. Sorensen Seminar: Forum for Political Leadership 2003


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 in the current environment of expensive, media-intensive campaigns where the public is increasingly distrustful and cynical about the process and its participants. This seminar tackled these issues by providing potential public servants with the information necessary to enter public life.

Seminar leaders:
Stephen Buhler is a 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 numerous articles dealing with literature, performance, teaching, and outreach. 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, as well as over the Nebraska Public Radio Network. 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 served as vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources for the University of Nebraska, vice chancellor 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 1996-97 and served as the vice chancellor for Extended Education from 1997-99. He currently serves on the governing boards of the Nebraska Community Foundation, the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, the Agriculture Builders of Nebraska, and the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement.

Sandra K. Scofield is director of the Nebraska Rural Initiative at the University of Nebraska. Scofield has degrees in social sciences and education and in educational psychology and measurements. She has worked in education and in a major U.S. aerospace corporation; has been a partner in a small business and family farming and ranching operation; and has served in a variety of governmental positions, both appointed and elected. Scofield served as a state senator in the Nebraska Unicameral for eight years, where she was a leader on education, natural resources, and rural development issues. She was a member of the Appropriations Committee and chaired the Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families. She also served as vice-chair of the National Conference of State Legislators Committee on Agriculture, Food Policy and Rural Development. Upon leaving the legislature, Scofield served as chief of staff for the governor and as a special assistant to the governor for planning and budget, where she was responsible for directing the strategic planning and budget process. She is a member of Rotary and has participated in the Teammates Program. In addition, she continues to manage a small family farm and ranch in northwest Nebraska.