The keynote speaker for the 2007 Athena Awards knows a thing or two about women emerging into leadership roles.
In October 2003, Nancy L. Zimpher became the first woman president of the University of Cincinnati. Under her guidance, the university embarked on an unprecedented consultation process that resulted in the strategic vision called “UC|21: Defining the New Urban Research University.” And she quickly immersed herself in countless community leadership roles, including co-chair of the steering committee for Pulse, the comprehensive community-based research study on the status of women and girls in Greater Cincinnati.

During her university tenure, UC has experienced enrollment growth to more than 35,000 students, increased retention and graduation rates, improved student satisfaction and enhanced national rankings, rising 12 places in the U.S. News & World Report rankings since the 2004 edition and breaking into the Princeton Review’s 2007 Best Colleges list.

Other accomplishments during her term include:
• Completion of the final phases of a $1.7 billion, 15-year capital transformation of the urban UC campus in uptown Cincinnati;
• Creation of a university Academy for Fellows in Teaching and Learning;
• Development of a framework for a major comprehensive campaign; and,
• The founding of Strive, a Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky partnership working toward student success from birth through entry into the workforce. Dr. Zimpher is a Strive co-founder and serves as a co-chair of its executive committee.

A native of Gallipolis, Ohio, President Zimpher holds a bachelor’s degree in English education and speech, a master’s degree in English literature, and a PhD in teacher education and administration in higher education, all from The Ohio State University.
Prior to her arrival at UC, she served as the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from 1998 to 2003, developing The Milwaukee Idea strategic vision. She had previously served as an executive dean of the Professional Colleges and dean of the College of Education at Ohio State.

She’s the co-author and co-editor of books on university leadership, teacher education and urban education. Her numerous professional and academic publications include work co-authored with her husband, Dr. Kenneth R. Howey, a research professor in education at UC.
Outside Cincinnati, Dr. Zimpher is in high demand as a speaker and to serve on various board and organizations. For example, she chairs the Board of Directors for NASULCC, the nation’s primary alliance of public universities, and the newly forming national network of presidents called the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU).

Closer to home, Dr. Zimpher participates on numerous state, regional, civic and community commissions and boards. Presently, she co-chairs the Ohio Board of Regents’ Articulation & Transfer Advisory Council. She also serves on the Cincinnati Business Committee and co-chairs its Education Task Force; she is chair-elect of the board of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce; and she serves on the boards of the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC), the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. Dr. Zimpher also chairs the Uptown Consortium, a five-way partnership in neighborhood development adjacent to UC and the consortium partners.

She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education’s Chief Executive Leadership Award; Ohio State University’s Alumni Association Professional Achievement Award; the Urban Appalachian Council’s Kinship Award; the Association of Teacher Educators’ Distinguished Research Award; the AACTE’s Edward C. Pomeroy Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teacher Education; and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Distinguished Woman Scholar Award. In 1998, she was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame, and she has been recognized with the YWCA’s Women of Achievement award in Columbus, Milwaukee and Cincinnati.