Board History

Nebraska’s State Colleges were established in 1867, when Nebraska became a state and Peru State College became Nebraska’s first public postsecondary institution. The Legislature provided for three more teacher education schools (normal schools) at Kearney in 1903, Wayne in 1910 and Chadron in 1911. In 1963, the Legislature officially designated these schools as Chadron State College, Peru State College and Wayne State College. Kearney State College became part of the University of Nebraska system on July 1, 1991.

The Board had its beginnings in an 1867 law. A 1909 act, later declared unconstitutional, created the Normal Board of Education. Through a 1921 constitutional amendment, normal school government was vested in a seven-member board called the Board of Education of State Normal Schools. Normal schools were renamed state schools by the 1936 Legislature. The board's name was changed to its current name in 1969. Later that year, the Legislature made the board a public corporation so it could issue bonds to build dormitories and other student service buildings.

Powers of the Board include but are not limited to the following:

  • Approves salary and benefits for all system employees
  • Reviews instructional courses and programs offered by the colleges, both on- and off-campus
  • Establishes system-wide tuition and fees annually
  • Inspects the physical properties of the state colleges to assure they are maintained in good repair and are accessible
  • Approves degrees awarded by colleges

Board Members

The board has seven members, six of whom are appointed by the governor to six-year terms with legislative approval. The commissioner of education serves as an ex-officio member. The governor also appoints annually a non-voting student board member from each of the state colleges.

Jess Zeiss - Chair
Appointed: 2014; Reappointed: 2021-2027

Office: 1620 Dodge Street, #1104, Omaha, NE  68197  (402) 602-7483

Trustee Zeiss is managing director at First National Capital Markets. He is a graduate of Doane College and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking. Trustee Zeiss was appointed in February 2014 to complete the term vacated by William Roskens.

John Chaney - Vice Chair and Fiscal, Facilities & Audit Committee Chair
Appointed: 2013; Reappointed: 2019 - 2025

2929 California Plaza, Apt. 3166, Omaha, NE 68131  (402) 274-7661

Trustee Chaney is retired CEO of Auburn State Bank.  He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin.  Trustee Chaney was appointed to the Board in January 2013.

Gary BieganskiGary Bieganski - Fiscal, Facilities & Audit Committee
Appointed: 2006; Reappointed: 2011, 2017- 2023

706 Bordeaux Road, Chadron, NE  69337  (308) 432-5201

Trustee BIeganski is the president emeritus of the Community Hospital in McCook. He has served on numerous boards throughout the state. Trustee Bieganski was appointed to the Board in May of 2006 to complete the term vacated by Steve Lewis. He is a graduate of Chadron State College.

Bob Engles - Student Affairs, Marketing & Enrollment Committee Chair
Appointed: 2011; Reappointed: 2013, 2019 - 2025

Office: 913 Central Avenue, Auburn, NE  68305  (402) 274-5100

Trustee Engles is owner of Engles Agency in Auburn, NE.  He was appointed to complete the term vacated by Floyd Vrtiska in March of 2011 and reappointed in January 2013.  Trustee Engles is a graduate of Peru State College.

Carter "Cap" Peterson - Student Affairs, Marketing & Enrollment Committee
Appointed: 2005; Reappointed: 2011, 2017- 2023

Office: Northeast NE Insurance Agency Inc., PO Box 100, Wayne, NE  68787  (402) 375-2696

Trustee Peterson is the owner of Northeast NE Insurance Agency, Inc. and Antiques on Main in Wayne.  Trustee Peterson is a graduate of Wayne State College and a former adjunct instructor. He was appointed to the Board in January of 2005.

Marjean Terrell - Academic & Personnel Committee Chair
Appointed: 2020; Reappointed 2021-2027

4412 436th Trail, Hay Springs, NE 69347  (308) 232-4408

Trustee Terrell is the co-owner and operator of their family farm and ranch. She has served on various boards including the Chadron State Foundation, the Northwest Rural Public Power District, the Western Nebraska Community College Board of Governors, and many other local and county boards and organizations. Marjean worked as a medical technologist and was an adjunct faculty member at Chadron State for several years. She was appointed to the Board in February of 2020 to complete the term of Michelle Suarez.

Matt Blomstedt -  Academic & Personnel Committee
Ex-Officio Member

Office: 301 Centennial Mall South, 6th Floor, Lincoln 68509  (402) 471-5020

Trustee Blomstedt is the State Commissioner of Education. As Commissioner of Education, Dr. Blomstedt is an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees.

2021-22 Student Trustees

Ruth MenciaRuth Mencia
Chadron State College Student Trustee

Mencia, a junior at Chadron State College, is a double major in social work and general business and administration and minoring in human biology.  She is the current chair of the campus activity board and serves on the student senate executive board, activities fee board, treasurer of the sports medicine club, and social work club. Ruth is also a PHEAST scholarship recipient.

Panashe JachaPanashe Jacha
Peru State College Student Trustee

Jacha a junior at Peru State College, is majoring in psychology. Panashe is a member of the student senate, a librarian’s aide, and an athletic trainer’s aide. 

Jackson RichlingJackson Richling
Wayne State College Student Trustee

Richling, a junior at Wayne State College, is majoring in business administration – marketing and minoring in English. He has served as Student Senate Vice President, a member of Philomathean Honor Society, a week of welcome ambassador, and residence hall association vice president. 

Board Meeting Schedule

The Board of Trustees holds public meetings five to eight times a year.

Board of Trustees  Meeting

January 11-12, 2022  |  VIEW BUSINESS MEETING AGENDA

Location:  Lincoln, Nebraska

Schedule for the Day (Central Time): TBD

Board of Trustees  Meeting


Location:  Peru State College, Peru, Nebraska

Schedule for the Day (Central Time): TBD