Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Nancy Zimpher: New UC president

New leader, new challenges

When Nancy L. Zimpher is appointed president of the University of Cincinnati today, she'll take on one of the most important leadership jobs in this region. From early indicators, Zimpher understands this better than many of us and relishes the challenges and opportunities of a public urban university.

With 33,000 students, 14,274 employees, an octupus network of healthcare, academics, research, arts and athletics, UC's presence is so prevalent in Greater Cincinnati that it's often taken for granted. And, some say, its potential to improve this area's social and economic health is underused. So it's good to hear Zimpher say that urban universities have a special responsibility to put their learning and study in service to their communities. Zimpher has been chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee the past five years. News reports quoting admirers in Milwaukee say she improved both the university and the community.

Zimpher faces several immediate, major challenges as she takes over the UC helm, namely money, building and neighborhood relationships.

With the state's share of funding shrinking, there is constant pressure on UC to develop new sources of revenue. It's imperative to keep up the momentum UC has started in attracting federal and private dollars in research and development.

The massive rebuilding program underway for more than a decade on the Clifton campus needs completion. And there's much work and collaboration to be done on projects and relationships with the city neighborhoods surrounding the campus.

Zimpher, who'll replace retiring UC President Joseph Steger in a few months, spent a quarter-century at Ohio State University. There she earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees and was dean of the College of Education before taking the Milwaukee job. She was a candidate to be Ohio State's president a year ago when Karen Holbrook was selected. Nationwide, 20 percent to 25 percent of university presidents are women. Zimpher is UC's first female president. In April, the UC Medical Center for the first time named a woman, Jane Henney, to its top post.

Zimpher is described as a high-energy, high-profile leader who is a positive, galvanzing force in both a university and its community. Sounds like the right match for the right time here.

We welcome her and wish her success.

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