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Native Nebraskan returns to head institute dedicated to a trending topic

September 30, 2018

LINCOLN - A native Nebraskan comes home to lead a University of Nebraska institute dedicated to educating students and the public on a topic much in the news these days.

Columbus native Jill O’Donnell becomes the first director of the Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance at a time when trade often lands at the top of newscasts.

As O’Donnell puts it; international trade once was a topic written about every few days and published inside newspapers. Now, it often hits the front page.

O’Donnell says the Yeutter Institute, located on the East Campus in Lincoln, seeks to be an objective, trusted source of analysis.

“The Yeutter Institute does not take stances on particular issues,” O’Donnell tells Nebraska Radio Network. “The Yeutter Institute, again I will underscore, is an objective source of information and analysis about trade.”

Trade has become front and center as President Donald Trump upends traditional trading stances, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and rejects others, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Trade disputes have become a staple of the daily diet of news.

O’Donnell says the institute will work with the faculties of the colleges of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Business, and Law to create programs. It will also bring in experts to lecture both to students and the public.

It will challenge students to better understand the complexities of trade. It will encourage students to participate in global trade and finance and it will push them to shape it, using former Agriculture Secretary Clayton Yeutter as a role model.

“A person who came from Eustis, Nebraska, from an agricultural production background and who went on to be extremely influential in the areas of international trade and finance,” O’Donnell says.

Yeutter was a trade representative in the Reagan administration. President George H.W. Bush chose him to be Agriculture Secretary. Yeutter went on to become CEO of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

O’Donnell became director July 1st. Prior to becoming director, she served as a consultant to the NATO Communications and Information Agency. She taught political science and foreign policy at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. O’Donnell also worked for the Council on Foreign Relations and U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

Yeutter and his wife, Cristy, donated $2.5 million to establish the institute, a gifted matched by the Nebraska legislature. The NU Board of Regents approved its creation late last year.

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