Saturday, July 19, 2003

Ohioan top choice to lead UC

Search panel picks Milwaukee chancellor

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Age: 56
Family: Married to Kenneth R. Howey. They have one son.
Born: Gallipolis, Ohio
Current position: She became the sixth chancellor (and first female chancellor) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in August 1998. She concurrently holds a faculty position in the School of Education.
Previous experience: Extensive career at Ohio State University. She served as the executive dean of the Professional Colleges there from 1994-1998; dean of the College of Education from 1993- July 1998; acting dean of the College of Education, 1992-1993; professor in the School of Educational Policy and Leadership, College of Education, 1991-July 1998; associate dean for academic affairs, College of Education, 1991-1992.
Education: Bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees from Ohio State.
Special Achievements: Inducted into Ohio Women's Hall of Fame.
The University of Cincinnati is poised to select its first female president in the school's 184-year history.

Tuesday morning, the 13-member presidential search committee is expected to recommend Nancy L. Zimpher, 56, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for the past five years, to replace longtime President Joseph Steger, UC officials said late Friday.

UC's Board of Trustees will vote at the joint meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. whether to hire Zimpher, who is the only finalist. Efforts to reach her Friday night were unsuccessful.

Hundreds of educators nationwide applied or were recommended for the position to lead Ohio's second-largest university (enrollment 33,000) and the city's largest employer (14,274 employees).

If approved, Zimpher will replace Steger eight months after he announced his retirement following 19 years in that position.

Zimpher would return to strong Ohio roots after a five-year leave from the Buckeye state. She is a native of Gallipolis in southeast Ohio along the Ohio River.

She began her professional career in 1991 at Ohio State University, where she also received her bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. in teacher education and administration.

She quickly moved from one prominent position to another, eventually becoming executive dean of the Professional Colleges, which placed her as the highest-ranking female academic in the OSU system.

Colleagues and city of Milwaukee officials have called Zimpher a dynamic bridge-builder.

After five years as chancellor, a recent magazine profile described Zimpher as a risk-taker who is Milwaukee's most powerful woman.

In a 2002 survey by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Zimpher was voted the most effective leader in the city. Pushing for a plan called the Milwaukee Idea, the expert in urban education advanced her university's involvement in city issues such as housing, economic development and education.

In that same survey, one respondent said if Zimpher were mayor, a lot more would be happening in Milwaukee. But many predicted then that she wouldn't stay long and would continue to rise in the ranks of American higher education.

"We've taken UWM to the streets, connecting you to this great and fascinating community with its diversity and culture," Zimpher told the 2002 graduating class. "We've imagined together a future for UWM that distinguishes us here in Wisconsin and in the nation as a leading research university.

"The idea of an engaged university is not a new one. It's as old as Wisconsin. But here at UWM, we are reinventing it for the 21st century, creating a new kind of university, deeply committed to our urban context.

"As one of our students said recently, 'Our campus is the city.' Increasingly, our campus is the world."

Zimpher is known as an advocate for universities joining in public and private partnerships. In the Milwaukee Idea, Zimpher brought together the university with social and public health agencies, community groups, corporate representatives and others to improve urban schools and regional economic development.

"What the Milwaukee Idea is, is a foundation or platform for launching conversations that are boundary spanning across municipalities, across chambers of commerce, across corporate entities, and across university," Zimpher said in a 2000 interview with The Business Journal.

At UWM, she oversees a 25,000-student campus in the northeast corner of the city, blocks from Lake Michigan.


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