Elisabeth Zinser

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Elisabeth Ann Zinser (born 1940) is a retired university president, most recently at Southern Oregon University (2001–06) in Ashland, Oregon. Previously she was the chancellor of the Lexington campus of the University of Kentucky (1995–2001), and the first female president of the University of Idaho, serving from 1989–95 in Moscow.

She holds a bachelor's degree from Stanford, a master's from UCSF, and a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. She also received an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.[1]

Prior to Idaho, Zinser received national attention[2] in 1988 when she was named the seventh president of Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. She served for just six days, from March 6–11, then resigned due to protests over her selection in what came to be known as the "Deaf President Now" protest at Gallaudet, saying that the protest was "a monumental event in the history of deaf culture."[3] The protesters thanked her for making a graceful exit, noting that she had become an "innocent victim and an unfortunate target" of their collective anger.[4]

A native of Meadville, Pennsylvania,[5] she is a former board member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.


  1. ^ Oregon Shakespeare Festival - board bio - Elisabeth Zinser.
  2. ^ Nightline transcript, host: Ted Koppel, guests: Greg Hlibok, Marlee Matlin, and Elisabeth Ann Zinser.
  3. ^ Zinser, Elisabeth. 1988. What I tried to do at Gallaudet. The Washington Post. Sunday, March 13, 1988, p. C8.
  4. ^ Hlibok, Greg. 1988. Letter. March 12, 1988.
  5. ^ Galludet.edu - Elisabeth Zinser. Archived June 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Jerry C. Lee
President of Gallaudet University
March 6, 1988 – March 11, 1988
Succeeded by
I. King Jordan
Preceded by
Richard D. Gibb
President of University of Idaho
1989 – 1995
Succeeded by
Thomas O. Bell, (Acting)
Preceded by
Sara Hopkins-Powell (interim president, 2000–2001)
President of Southern Oregon University
2001 – 2006
Succeeded by
Mary Cullinan