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Past President Nancy Zimpher

Dr. Nancy L. Zimpher - UC President, 2003-2009

 “Vision trumps everything. Organizations are most effective when a well-articulated and ambitious vision of the future exists.” - Dr. Nancy L. Zimpher

President Zimpher
 Dr. Nancy L. Zimpher

Nancy L. Zimpher – a widely recognized leader in higher education, civic engagement, economic development and urban education reform – served as the president of the University of Cincinnati from fall 2003 to May 2009.

She became UC’s 25th president and its first woman president in October 2003. Under her leadership, UC embarked on an unprecedented consultation process that involved a wide spectrum of the university’s stakeholders and resulted in the strategic vision, UC|21: Defining the New Urban Research University. On June 1, 2009, she  became the chancellor of the State University of New York system. 

Under President Zimpher’s direction, the University of Cincinnati made significant strides in its UC|21 vision to become a leading urban research institution for the 21st century. The university experienced enrollment growth to over 37,000 students, increased retention and graduation rates, improved student satisfaction and enhanced national rankings – including the Princeton Review’s 2009 best colleges list. These achievements were accomplished through a number of strategic actions that President Zimpher implemented, among them restructuring the university’s decision-making process and introducing comprehensive state-of-the-art business practices; raising admissions standards while growing enrollment and maintaining the university’s deep commitment to access and a diverse student body; introducing a series of academic reforms related to Strategic Enrollment Management, program offerings and performance-based budgeting; redesigning mechanisms for research support and opportunities for commercialization on intellectual property; as well as transforming decanal leadership through the completion of several national searches

Additional examples of President Zimpher’s achievements at UC include:

  • Completion of the final phases of a $1.7 billion, 15-year capital transformation of the urban UC campus in Uptown Cincinnati;
  • Creation of a university Academy of Fellows for Teaching and Learning.
  • Initiating the largest campaign in UC history ($1 billion); 
  • Stepping up freshman innovations, an assessment center and undergraduate research opportunities;
  • Establishment of UC’s new Center for the City, designed to facilitate innovative and productive partnerships that leverage university and public expertise to work toward the betterment of the community; 
  • Chairing the Uptown Consortium, a five-member partnership in neighborhood development that involves five of the largest employers in the Uptown area surrounding the UC campus; and
  • Founding of Strive, a Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky birth through career collaborative. President Zimpher was a co-founder of this partnership, which involves higher education institutions in the region, urban P-12 school districts in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, as well as business, civic and nonprofit organizations.

Prior to her arrival at UC, Dr. Zimpher served as the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she led the university from 1998 to 2003, developing The Milwaukee Idea strategic vision and holding a faculty position in the School of Education. Prior to her appointment in Wisconsin, she was the Executive Dean of the Professional Colleges and Dean of the College of Education at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. During her career at OSU, she worked in various administrative positions and engaged in research and development efforts concerned with improving the preparation of teachers, especially teachers for urban contexts.

President Zimpher is highly engaged on the national and regional level and remains committed to an active role as a thought-leader in the 21st century. During her time at UC, Dr. Zimpher participated on numerous state, regional, civic and community commissions and boards.

Dr. Zimpher is the co-author and co-editor of books on university leadership as well as books on teacher education and urban education. She also has authored and co-authored many monographs, book chapters, and academic journal articles related to academic leadership, school/university partnerships and teacher education, and in many instances her co-author has been her husband, Dr. Kenneth R. Howey, a research professor in education at UC. She often is sought after as a key participant at both national and international conferences, making numerous presentations for groups such as ACE,  NASULGC, American Educational Research Association (AERA), Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), and Association of Teacher Educators (ATE).

She is the recipient of numerous awards including the People of Vision Award from Prevent Blindness Ohio; the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education’s Chief Executive Leadership Award; the National Panhellenic Conference Foundation's Women in Higher Education Achievement Award; Ohio State University’s Alumni Association Professional Achievement Award; the Urban Appalachian Council’s Kinship Award; the Association of Teacher Educators’ Distinguished Research Award; the AACTE’s Edward C. Pomeroy Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teacher Education; and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Distinguished Woman Scholar Award. In 1998, she was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame, and she has been recognized with the YWCA’s Women of Achievement award in Columbus, Milwaukee and Cincinnati.

President Zimpher holds a bachelor’s degree in English education and speech, a master’s degree in English literature, and a PhD in teacher education and administration in higher education, all from The Ohio State University.