SUNY elects first female chancellor

It was a historic day for the SUNY system this Tuesday when the board of trustees unanimously voted Nancy Zimpher its first female chancellor.

The position of chancellor has been vacant for nearly two years following the resignation of John Ryan, who only briefly held the position.

"Nancy Zimpher brings to SUNY an outstanding national reputation earned through her many accomplishments in public higher education," said Carl T. Hayden, chairman of both the SUNY Board of Trustees and the chancellor search committee, in a press release located on the SUNY Web site. "It is with great pleasure that I welcome her to SUNY as chancellor."

According to the Web site, Zimpher served for five years as chancellor of the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin and has been the president of the University of Cincinnati since 2003, where she has been known for strengthening the system both academically and financially. She has been praised for improving UC's poor fiscal state as well as supporting research, technology and study abroad programs.

"Nancy deserves a good deal of credit for having brought in a fiscal team that operated very transparently about the university finances and the deficit spending," Steve Howe, a professor at UC, told The New York Times.

Her experience with financial matters could be a major asset in the SUNY system, as Zimpher assumes leadership June 1 amidst a growing financial crisis. Currently, the 64 SUNY campuses are operating on a $10 billion budget expected to be cut further in the coming year.

"Nancy Zimpher is an educator, scholar and administrator of the highest quality," H. Carl McCall, SUNY trustee and search committee member, said on the Web site. "She possesses the intelligence, determination and experience SUNY needs for the challenging times that confront us. I could not be more pleased with the results of our search."

Zimpher plans to travel to Albany frequently this spring to meet not only with SUNY senior staff and campus presidents, but also faculty and student government leaders, constituency groups and state legislators.

"Together with Gov. Paterson, the state Legislature, the Board of Trustees, campus presidents, students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, we will advance the educational, research and public service missions of the State University of New York," Zimpher stated on SUNY's Web site. "I look forward with great anticipation and excitement to beginning our work."