Thursday, October 2, 2003

Zimpher gets busy on Day 1



By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Nancy Zimpher (left), the new president of the University of Cincinnati, greets faculty and staff who turned out on the university pavilion plaza at 7:45 a.m. to welcome her to her first day on the job Wednesday.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
CORRYVILLE - They couldn't quite remember her name, but University of Cincinnati students knew for certain that the pep band, cheering and balloons were to welcome somebody important.

"I don't know her name, but I know her face," said Sarah Sprad-lin, 18, a freshman from St. Bernard. "I know she's the first female president (at UC), and today is her first day."

Her name is Nancy Zimpher, and she began her first day on the job as UC's 25th president Wednesday with a hug from the Bearcat mascot himself, who was decked out in a tuxedo.

Scores of students, employees and faculty met her on the university pavilion plaza for her morning arrival. She shook hands and chatted on the way to her new office.

"There's a great, great spirit on this campus," she told the crowd. "What do we do now? We go to work."

And to work she went, making phone calls almost nonstop to community activists, other university presidents and old friends from her days as an educator at Ohio State.

The official meetings started at 7:45 a.m., but Zimpher said she was up at 4:30 a.m.

The first-day agenda consisted of meetings with deans, receptions with faculty and conversations with students. She popped into a few classrooms. She also met with community leaders at an evening reception at the Queen City Club downtown.

"It's just exactly what I wanted to do today, to go to as many colleges as possible," Zimpher said. "I've met with faculty, and students have come from their classes to say hello. I just like everything we've seen."

Zimpher came to UC after five years as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Before that appointment, she was executive dean of the professional colleges at Ohio State University.

She replaces Joseph Steger, who retired Tuesday after 19 years as president. He will have an office in the business school, where he is to develop a center on nonprofit organizations.

On a tour through the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, Aramark food services manager Shirley McGinnis offered Zimpher a cup of coffee.

"That she's out talking to people working for the university, that's good," McGinnis said. "I've been on campus since 1979, and that's one of the first times I've seen a president coming around. It means she cares about the rest of us."

Pleasantries aside, Zimpher offered the campus and the public the first glimpse of her administration's agenda. It'll be built on a theme of engagement, she said.

Zimpher will soon lead an effort to frame a picture of how UC envisions itself over the next five to 10 years. That will include:

• Expanding the university's research capacity. UC officials reported Tuesday that funding grew from $260 million in the year ended June 2002 to $309 million through June 2003. Research funding grew nearly 19 percent in fiscal year 2003.

• Completing the campus construction plan, which includes a six-year, $185 million Main Street project designed to improve and consolidate student services in one area.

• Prioritizing academic programs.

• Enhancing connections with the Greater Cincinnati community.

"It's exciting to have a woman as president," said interior design professor Ann Black after meeting Zimpher.

"Everybody that I know who's had contact with her is very excited about it. From what little I know about her, it'll be a great change for UC."

Zimpher said her first day was busy, but positive.

"I'm the newcomer, so I have to learn a lot," she said. "We didn't let any grass grow, day one."

As for students knowing her name?

"Over time they'll know who I am," she said, adding that she plans to visit with honors societies, classrooms and clubs. "You've just got to go to the places where they are."

E-mail kgoetz@enquirer.com




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