Former university president serves church

2013-03-28T10:00:00Z Former university president serves churchBy Tammy Real-McKeighan/News Editor Fremont Tribune
March 28, 2013 10:00 am  • 

His is a familiar face.

He is a former University of Nebraska president and a man whose international work has taken him around the globe.

Most recently, a call to ministry has brought Ronald Roskens of Omaha to the pulpit of First Congregational Church UCC in Fremont.

Roskens, a licensed minister in the United Church of Christ, has served as interim pastor at the local church. He will serve at the church through Easter, when he will give the sermon titled “Something Must Have Happened Here.”

The Sunday service starts at 10 a.m. in the church at 1550 N. Broad St.

Roskens has a doctorate from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. His first assignment was as a faculty member and administrator at Kent State University. He served there for 13 years during which time the Kent State shootings occurred and four people died in 1970.

“At its culmination, it was virtually a war zone, because the National Guard had been called in,” he said.

It was an extremely difficult time, one he describes as difficult to relay in a short time.

Roskens and his wife, Lois, and family moved to Nebraska. He became chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1972. Five years later, the board of regents asked Roskens to serve as interim president of the University of Nebraska system.

“After three months, they asked me to take the position and so I was president of the University of Nebraska for 13 years,” he said.

President George H.W. Bush then asked Roskens to administer the Agency for International Development, an arm of the national government which dispenses foreign aid.

“When I was there, we were dispensing $8 1/2 billion dollars to 110 countries so I have had extensive travel all over the world,” Roskens said. “I’ve been in 78 countries, doing work.”

Bush’s appointees, including Roskens, left their positions after the president lost the 1992 election to Democrat Bill Clinton.

Roskens returned to Omaha from Washington, D.C.

He eventually became a consultant in international commerce, which he still does on a part-time basis. He also is involved in ministry part time and has been giving sermons at churches since 1993.

Roskens credits a friend and former longtime pastor of First Plymouth Church in Lincoln for encouraging him in this endeavor.

“For me to become a licensed minister, I had to have instruction which was about a three-year proposition under the tutelage of Dr. Otis Young,” Roskens said. “He was the one who urged me to get into this and nurtured me, because he knew of my interest in religion.”

Roskens plans to continue serving churches.

“I will help where I can,” he said. “I’m especially interested in helping ministers who need to get a Sunday off now and then.”

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