Walter “Ted” Carter Jr. can appreciate a good science experiment.

The University of Nebraska President Finalist visited the Panhandle Research and Extension Center on Tuesday where he shared his hopes for the university system’s future as well as some parts of his past.

“There idea here is to kind of give you some insight about me and my wife, Lynda,” said Carter.

Among his stories was one of a science experiment.

“I had a biology teacher that really inspired me in 10th grade,” said Carter.

As a sophomore, he began a science fair project that stretched to his senior year. It was similar, he said, to some of the research at the Extension Center.

“Most people got their water from wells,” said Carter. “Wells that were right there, coming from streams and lakes.”

He put dams in place to direct water into the wells and was able to reduce the time it took to find out what pollutants were in the water from “about two weeks at the State Institute ... to about two days.”

His senior year, he had the opportunity to attend the International Science Fair where he ended up winning a prize.

Shortly after, he found out he had been accepted into the Naval Academy where he would meet his wife. He graduated in 1981 and was designated a Naval Flight Office the following year.

In 1985, he graduated from the Navy Fighter Weapons School — better known as Top Gun — and went on to fly 125 combat missions and safely complete 2,016 carrier-arrested landings, which is a record among all active and retired Naval Aviation designators, according to the United States Navy.

He stepped into the roll of president at the U.S. Naval War College, and eventually took over as the superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he retired from this year.

Assuming the Board of Regents extends an offer to Carter, his next mission, should he choose to accept it, will be to fly the university toward growth.

One of the challenges is that potential students — particularly in rural areas — don’t always see a four year university as something worthwhile. Those who do want to go to a four year college often aren’t fully prepared, said Carter.

He hopes to form stronger bonds with community colleges that will encourage students to go on to four year programs and prepare them to be successful when they do.

He also wants to focus more on success stories — he wants the world to know when students excel during, and because of, their time in the University of Nebraska system.

Sharing those experiences, he said, could draw more students to programs throughout the system including those at the Extension Center.

“I want to empower the students to tell their story,” said Carter. “That’s the more powerful source of ambassadorship that we can create.”

Carter said he’s supportive of the research taking place at the various extension offices around the state and wants those stories to be told as well.Carter said the extension faculty and staff play a vital role in agriculture by providing important information to producers that they might not have access to other wise, as well as by carrying out numerous research projects with goals to ultimately make agriculture production more efficient.

“They’re making a big difference,” said Carter.

Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at

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