Nancy Zimpher, Interim Executive Director of the National Association of System Heads, was honored today with the inaugural Peter McPherson Lifetime Achievement Award. The APLU award recognizes an individual whose career has been dedicated to the service and leadership of public and land-grant universities.
Dr. Zimpher’s contributions to higher education are exemplary and span over four decades. Her unwavering commitment to advancing public higher education and her relentless pursuit of excellence have transformed countless institutions and left an indelible mark on the field. Dr. Zimpher’s visionary leadership, coupled with her ability to inspire and empower others, has not only raised the profile of public universities but has also redefined the landscape of education.
Throughout her illustrious career, Zimpher has held several high-ranking positions, including her role as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, President of the University of Cincinnati, and Chancellor of the State University of New York. During her tenure, she spearheaded transformative initiatives that propelled SUNY to new heights of success and influence. Her leadership was instrumental in forging strong partnerships with various stakeholders, including policymakers, community leaders, and industry partners, fostering innovation and economic growth in the region. Under her guidance, SUNY experienced unprecedented growth in enrollment, increased research funding, and enhanced academic programs that addressed the needs of a diverse student body.
In addition to her remarkable accomplishments leading several APLU institutions, Nancy Zimpher’s impact extends far beyond a single institution. She has been an ardent advocate for public higher education on the national stage, serving as Chair of the APLU Board of Directors and as a member of numerous national commissions and committees.
To be eligible for the Peter McPherson Lifetime Achievement Award, recipients must have: served as president or chancellor of an APLU institution; have led a career dedicated to the ideals and mission of public higher education/embody the ideals of APLU; and been active in APLU and other higher education leadership communities. Peter McPherson was APLU president from 2006 to September 2022. During his tenure, he expanded membership by dozens of institutions, including allowing members from Canada and Mexico; oversaw the expansion of a sophisticated federal advocacy arm; and more than doubled the size of the association’s staff to work in partnership with member institutions on projects aimed at helping them better serve students, communities, their states, the nation, and the world.