Nancy L. Zimpher

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Nancy L. Zimpher
12th Chancellor of the
State University of New York
In office
June 1, 2009 – September 4, 2017
Preceded byJohn J. O’Connor
(Officer in Charge)
Succeeded byKristina M. Johnson
Personal details
Born (1946-10-29) October 29, 1946 (age 73)
Gallipolis, Ohio, U.S.
Spouse(s)Kenneth R. Howey
ResidenceAlbany, New York, U.S.
Alma materThe Ohio State University
InstitutionsThe Ohio State University
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
University of Cincinnati
State University of New York
WebsiteOffice of the Chancellor

Nancy L. Zimpher (born October 29, 1946) is an American educator, state university leader, and former Chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY).[1] Prior to her service at SUNY, Zimpher was a dean and professor of education at Ohio State University (where she had earned her bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees); then Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee between 1998 and 2003; and President of the University of Cincinnati from 2003 through May 2009. Zimpher was the first woman to serve as Chancellor of SUNY, UWM's first woman chancellor, and UC's first female president. Zimpher is a native of the village of Gallipolis in southern Ohio.[2]

Administrative career[edit]

University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee[edit]

At UWM (where she was the first female chancellor of that university), Zimpher created the now-defunct "Milwaukee Idea", a deliberately derivative variation on the historical Wisconsin Idea that "the University's boundaries are the State's boundaries", with a strategic plan that tied UWM, with its faculty knowledge base and research facilities, to the economic health and strength of the Greater Milwaukee area,[3] and raised the profile of UWM in the region vis-a-vis crosstown rival Marquette University.[4]

University of Cincinnati[edit]

At UC, she worked to eliminate the previous divisions among the colleges (such as by creating a single university commencement) and continuously championed UC|21, an academic plan which redefined UC as a "new urban research university" for the 21st century. It has also positioned Cincinnati as a candidate for AAU status. Her work was complicated by controversy over her ousting of longtime basketball coach Bob Huggins. Shortly after her arrival at UC, Huggins had been arrested for driving under the influence. This arrest, combined with the poor performance of Huggins' players in the classroom, were among many factors that led Zimpher to force Huggins to resign in 2005.[5][6][7]

State University of New York[edit]

Soon after taking over at SUNY, Zimpher promised to visit all 64 campuses in the sprawling system—the largest university system in the nation under a single governing board.[8]

Eight months after being sworn in, Zimpher had to deal with another athletic controversy, this time at Binghamton University. After a rash of incidents involving the school's basketball team, Zimpher ordered an audit of Binghamton's athletic department—to be overseen by the SUNY board of trustees, not Binghamton.[9] The resulting report tallied what the New York Times described as "a litany of transgressions, including lowered admission standards and changed grades." In its wake, Binghamton president Lois B. DeFleur retired in July, athletic director Joel Thirer resigned and basketball coach Kevin Broadus, was placed on paid administrative leave and ultimately stripped of coaching duties.[10]

Zimpher eventually assigned SUNY’s interim provost, David K. Lavallee, to lead an overall effort for the SUNY system to ensure that academics remain the highest priority; and Charles R. Westgate, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Binghamton, as a special adviser for academics and athletics for the SUNY system: moves some critics of the over-emphasis on athletics decried as insufficient.[11]

Zimpher advocated the use of systemness to begin overhauling SUNY in her January 9, 2012 State of the University address.[12]

On May 31, 2016, Zimpher announced her intention to step down as SUNY chancellor on June 30, 2017.[13][14][15]


Zimpher's spouse is Kenneth R. Howey, Senior Fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a public policy research institute at the University at Albany. She was also married to Craig Zimpher, Director of OSU residence hall Scott House, while studying for their advanced degrees at The Ohio State University from c: 1968 through the early 1970s.

Key works[edit]

  • Percy, Stephen L., Nancy L. Zimpher, and Mary Jane Brukardt, eds. 2006. Creating a New Kind of University: Institutionalizing Community-University Engagement. Bolton, MA: Anker Publications. ISBN 9781882982882
  • Zimpher, Nancy L., and Kenneth R. Howey, eds. 2004. University Leadership in Urban School Renewal. Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 9780275980955
  • Zimpher, Nancy L., Stephen L. Percy, and Mary Jane Brukardt. 2002. A Time for Boldness: A Story of Institutional Change. Bolton, MA: Anker Publications. ISBN 9781882982547


  1. ^ "Challenges aplenty at SUNY". The Times Union. Albany, New York. 2009-02-11. p. 1A. Retrieved 2009-02-17.[dead link]
  2. ^ "Nancy Zimpher, UC's new president, at a glance". Retrieved 2008-09-04.
  3. ^ Business Courier of Cincinnati. "Zimpher to accept SUNY" top job". republished in The Business Journal of Milwaukee February 10, 2009
  4. ^ [Goetz, Kristina. "UC's new leader keeps fast pace, personal touch." Cincinnati Enquirer, July 27, 2003]
  5. ^ Rozin, Skip (March 30, 2006). "The Basketball Coach Vs. the College President". The Wall Street Journal.
  6. ^ " - SI on Campus - 2004-05 Hoops Preview: Least Rootable Teams - Thursday, November 11, 2004 @ 10:56AM". CNN.
  7. ^ UC Magazine
  8. ^ Foderaro, Lisa W. SUNY Chancellor to Build a Strategy by Consensus. New York Times, 2009-02-10.
  9. ^ Thamel, Pete. SUNY Board to Oversee an Audit of Binghamton. New York Times, 2009-10-03.
  10. ^ [At Binghamton, Concern That Sports Still a Focus Thamel, Pete. "At Binghamton, Concern That Sports Still a Focus" New York Times" February 27, 2010]
  11. ^ Thamel, Pete (March 23, 2010). "Binghamton Will Keep Men's Team in Limbo" – via
  12. ^ Zimpher, Nancy. "2012 State of the University Address". State University of New York. Archived from the original on 2012-12-12.
  13. ^ "5-31-16 Zimpher - SUNY".
  14. ^
  15. ^ Chen, David W. (May 31, 2016). "Nancy Zimpher to Resign as SUNY Chancellor in 2017" – via

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
John H. Schroeder
Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Succeeded by
Carlos E. Santiago
Preceded by
Joseph A. Steger
President of the University of Cincinnati
October 2003 – April 2009
Succeeded by
Monica Rimai (Interim)
Preceded by
John J. O'Connor (Officer in Charge)
Chancellor of the State University of New York
June 2009 – September 2017
Succeeded by
Kristina M. Johnson