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Ivy League educator will be UMES’ next provost

  • Nancy Niemi joins the university leadership team July 1.

    Monday, March 11, 2019

    A senior administrator at Yale University who is currently the Ivy League school's director of Faculty Teaching Initiatives will be UMES' next chief academic policymaker.

    Dr. Nancy S. Niemi joins President Heidi M. Anderson's cabinet July 1 as provost and vice president for academic affairs.  Her appointment completes five executive searches overseen by Anderson since she took office Sept. 1.  

    Niemi has 30-plus years' experience as an educator, including from 2009 to 2015, professor, chair and education department dean at the University of New Haven.  Across town, she has worked the past four years in Yale's provost office serving some 4,000 faculty members in 12 professional schools focusing on strategic development of programs across academic boundaries.  

    She has directed development of degree programs and curriculum as well as worked with colleagues to help them develop innovative teaching strategies. She also has been involved in a broad spectrum of community service experiences.

    UMES, Niemi wrote in her application cover letter, “represents the kind of school that, for me, defines what higher education should be: publicly funded, fiercely student-centered (and) committed to harnessing the world's curriculum to be the lever by which students can change their lives.”  

    She began her career in 1984 teaching English and social studies in Horseheads (N.Y.) Central Schools near Elmira.  

    Anderson noted Niemi's work as president of the Colleges of Teacher Education in Connecticut offered her opportunity to advocate for public and private school colleagues as well as work with the state's school board and legislature.

    A year ago, she completed an invited fellowship at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she lectured, taught and conducted workshops on the intersections of gender, race, and leadership.

    At Yale, Niemi crafted and "executed (a) comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion program for faculty" that included the creation of a small grants program focusing attention on classroom diversity initiatives as well as funding for undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and math to work alongside faculty researchers.

    "I think there is nothing more humbling than being responsible for helping students learn," her application letter says, "and maintaining that mindset oneself is crucial to that enterprise."

    Niemi holds two degrees from the University of Rochester; a bachelor's in English literature and a doctorate in education (with a concentration on curriculum and instruction), and a master's in education from Elmira College.