NORFOLK, NE – The speaker of the Nebraska Legislature has been recognized for his work with the state’s two-year colleges.
Senator Jim Scheer, Norfolk, has received the Friend of Community Colleges Award from the Nebraska Community College Association (NCCA). The honor was presented to Scheer recently during a luncheon as part of the Northeast Community College Board of Governors’ monthly meeting in Norfolk.
The Association includes five of the community college systems in Nebraska – Central, Mid-Plains, Northeast, Southeast, and Western Nebraska. The Friend of Community Colleges award is the highest honor the NCCA bestows on a non-trustee and recognizes individuals and/or organizations for their on-going commitment and support of community college education.
“The Friend of Community Colleges award is presented to individuals who have been very supportive of the community colleges across Nebraska,” said Greg Adams, executive director of the NCCA. “Speaker Scheer has described himself as a “problem-solver and mediator” who is “not overly partisan.” It is fortuitous to have him serve as the leader in the statehouse at this point in time; advocating for the great work of Nebraska’s community colleges.”
Dr. Michael Chipps, president of Northeast Community College, nominated Scheer for the Friend award. He said the speaker understands the value of Nebraska’s community colleges.
“This was most evident as a result of his legislation that allowed the State of Nebraska to donate former Norfolk Regional Center land to Northeast Community College in Norfolk to be used for a Technology and Applied Research Park (TARP). While Northeast will serve as the primary driver leading this exciting venture, it has economic development implications that will be felt across the state, nation and globe for generations to come.”
Adams said, “The passage of this piece of legislation sets the stage, it creates a precedence, for any community college in the state that needs to acquire state land that is sitting idle, so the issue doesn’t have to be discussed and rephrased over and over again. Now the next senator will only need to hold up the Scheer bill and say that it worked this time, it can work for us.”
Scheer was modest in accepting the award.
“There are 48 other individuals (in the Legislature) that had to vote for this in order for it to be passed. I’m happy that maybe (this legislation) has opened up the process to make it a little easier for others.”
Chipps said Scheer works tirelessly to make sure that he is effectively representing his constituents across the state.
“His dedication to education has had a positive impact on several generations of Nebraskans.”
Scheer has a long history of working at several levels of education. He spent nearly two decades on the Norfolk Board of Education, eight years as president. He then was elected to the State Board of Education in 2005, and was chosen president in 2011. In 2012, Scheer was elected to the Nebraska Legislature and was re-elected in 2016.
He was a member of the Legislature’s Education Committee until he was chosen by his colleagues to serve as Speaker of the Legislature in 2017.
Scheer earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The insurance agency and small business owner has lived most of his life in Norfolk where he served as mayor from December 1984-June 1986. Scheer is a member of the boards of Liberty Center Services and Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk.
Scheer and his wife, Kristi, have three children: Keeli, Rachel and John and six grandchildren.