The University of Nebraska has made a remarkable commitment to advancing early childhood research and practice. The Buffett Early Childhood Institute believes strongly in strengthening those efforts and is committed to supporting and collaborating with early childhood faculty across disciplines and campuses.
Buffett Institute Endowed Community Chairs
The Buffett Institute is establishing four endowed community professorships on the NU campuses. Each professorship focuses on different aspects of early childhood development and reflects the interdisciplinary commitment of the Buffett Institute. The individual who holds this title is campus-based (Kearney, Lincoln, Omaha, and Medical Center), reporting to the chair of his or her home academic unit. Additionally, the holder of the endowed professorship will commit one-quarter of his/her professional effort to working with the Buffett Institute during the academic year. MORE
Buffett Institute Graduate Scholars
The Buffett Early Childhood Institute Graduate Scholars program awards 1- and 2-year grants—each worth up to $25,000 annually—to a maximum of four doctoral students every year. The program is designed to foster the growth of diverse, exceptional graduate students conducting research about young children and their families, with particular attention to children placed at risk as a consequence of poverty and social and environmental circumstances. The Buffett Institute Graduate Scholars program is the first financial support program for doctoral students who have reached Ph.D. candidacy at the University of Nebraska that focuses on young children and their development. MORE
Buffett Institute Graduate Assistantships
The Institute has been providing research assistantships to graduate students at UNO and UNL since 2015. Students have contributed research and technical support for special projects, including the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Survey, Community Risk Indicators Project, and Buffett Institute-sponsored conferences and seminars. Students are mentored by Institute leaders and gain valuable research experience, including grant and manuscript development, research-style presentations, and study design and analyses.
Buffett Institute Collaboratorium
Located on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Campus in Teachers College Hall, the Collaboratorium serves as a setting for multidisciplinary conversations about early childhood development that draw faculty and students from a range of different colleges and areas of interest on the UNL campus, as well as early childhood practitioners. The room is equipped with state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment to facilitate meetings between early childhood researchers and practitioners across the state and nation. Additionally, the Collaboratorium provides space for advanced graduate students and postdoctoral appointees to work together. To inquire about use of the space, please contact Machaela Cavanaugh.
Collaboration With University of Nebraska Faculty
The Buffett Institute is partnering with University of Nebraska faculty and staff to strengthen our programmatic work:
- The evaluation team for the Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan includes faculty from the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS) at UNL and the Interdisciplinary Center for Program Evaluation of the Munroe-Meyer Institute at UNMC.
- Professional development activities for the Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan are guided by an advisory committee that includes UNL assistant professor Tonia Durden.
- The work group that guided the design and continues to oversee the implementation of the Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan includes UNO associate professor Debora Wisneski.
- The Institute formed a research partnership with UNL professor Julia Torquati and the UNL Bureau of Sociological Research to develop and administer the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Survey.
- Leadership and faculty from UNK, UNL, UNMC and UNO participated in an advisory committee for the Buffett Institute/Gallup Survey on Early Care and Education in Nebraska.
- The Institute is working with UNL and UNMC faculty, along with the Nebraska Department of Education, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and private agencies and foundations, to develop the Nebraska Early Childhood Integrated Data System and an accompanying report.
- Institute leaders have collaborated on research grants, mentored students, and served on faculty search committees across the University of Nebraska system.
University of Nebraska Research Partnerships
Early Learning Network Grant
Iheoma Iruka, director of research and evaluation at the Buffet Institute, is co-principal investigator on an NU team that was awarded a $6.5 million federal grant to study Nebraska early childhood practices and policies and lead a national network committed to improving children's outcomes. The project is part of the multi-institutional Early Learning Network, a $26 million research initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. The team is led by UNL's CYFS.
Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Survey
The survey will provide the most comprehensive overview to date of the state’s early childhood workforce (birth to third grade). It is an initiative of the Buffett Institute’s Early Childhood Workforce Development Program and is being administered in conjunction with UNL’s Bureau of Sociological Research. A report will be available by summer 2016.
Child Care Evaluation Grant
Iruka is part of a multi-campus University of Nebraska team that has received funding to evaluate and inform childcare quality. The project, housed in UNL’s CYFS, will pinpoint the minimum thresholds of childcare quality needed to promote positive development and prevent negative outcomes for children birth to age 5. The funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families.
Classroom Assessment of Sociocultural Interactions-Preschool to 3rd (CASI-P3) Research Network
Iruka and UNL's Tonia Durden are among a group of researchers from multiple universities working to create a classroom assessment instrument that could be used by researchers and educators to evaluate the sociocultural interactions in early childhood classrooms.
University of Nebraska Conference Sponsorships and Co-Sponsorships
- 2015 Strengthening the Learning and Development of African American Children (UNO)
- 2015 Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce in Nebraska conference (UNL)
- 2016 CYFS Summit on Research in Early Childhood (UNL)
- 2016 Celebrating Young Children Conference (UNO)
- 2016 Conference on Bullying Prevention (UNL)