GALLIPOLIS — Dr. Nancy Zimpher has been named the 2014 Alumnus of the Year by the Gallia Academy High School Alumni Association’s board of directors.
Zimpher, a 1964 graduate of Gallia Academy High School, is currently serving as chancellor of The State University of New York, a network of 64 campuses throughout New York State. She will be presented with the award at noon Saturday during the annual Alumni Association luncheon at the high school in Centenary.
Zimpher has a bachelor’s degree in English education and speech, a master’s degree in English literature and a doctorate in teacher education and higher education administration. She earned all of her degrees from The Ohio State University.
On June 1, 2009, Zimpher became the 12th chancellor of SUNY — the largest comprehensive system of public higher education in the nation. Prior to SUNY, she served as president of the University of Cincinnati, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and dean of the College of Education at Ohio State.
Zimpher is the first female to serve as chancellor at SUNY, as she was the first female chancellor at UWM and first female president at Cincinnati.
According to a press release from the alumni association, Zimpher has attained international recognition for “her visionary institutional and community leadership.”
“Over the course of her distinguished career, Dr. Zimpher has pushed to new heights universities’ power as regional, state, and national economic engines; she has spearheaded community initiatives that improve education outcomes from cradle to career; she has been a leader in setting new standards for teacher preparation; and she has developed initiatives that ensure student mobility, shorten time to degree, and reduce student debt,” said Richard Northrup, of the alumni association. “A recent article in Politico magazine called her President Obama’s ‘favorite college leader.’
“These are extraordinary achievements over a career of exceptional public service.”
No matter where she has been, education has always been Zimpher’s focus.
She became a household name in throughout Ohio in the mid-2000s. While trying to eliminate divisions among the individual colleges within the University of Cincinnati — such as creating a single university commencement, among other things – she became embroiled in a controversy over her ouster of longtime Bearcats basketball coach Bob Huggins.
Huggins, who is now the men’s basketball coach at West Virginia University, had been arrested for allegedly driving under the influence shortly after Zimpher’s arrival as president of UC. Huggins’ arrest, combined with his players’ poor performance in the classroom, led her to force Huggins’ resignation in 2005
When she took over at SUNY, she had to deal with another athletic department controversy – this time at Binghamton University, one of the 64 campuses in the SUNY system. An investigation in that school’s athletic program uncovered such transgressions as lowered admission standards and changed grades.
Zimpher is active in numerous state and national education organizations, and has authored and co-authored numerous books, monographs and academic journal articles.
She currently serves as chair of the Board of Governors of the New York Academy of Sciences and the National Association of System Heads. From 2005–11 she led the national Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, and from 2012–2013 she was chair of CEOs for Cities.
“At each step in her career, Dr. Zimpher has crafted and refined a vision of higher education that is inclusive, encourages innovation, and is rooted in addressing the most pressing needs of our nation,” Northrup said.