Nancy Hensel became the first president of The New American Colleges and Universities on November 15, 2011. Previously she served as chief executive officer of the Council on Undergraduate Research in Washington, D.C. for seven years.
As chief executive officer for CUR, an organization which now totals over 600 higher education institutions in its membership, Hensel oversaw significant growth as her leadership guided it to a prominent place in higher education. She has been a passionate supporter of undergraduate research throughout her career, including serving as principal (or co-principal) investigator on seven National Science Foundation (NSF) grants and publishing several papers on the topic. Prior to becoming CUR’s chief executive officer, Hensel was the sixth president of the University of Maine at Presque Isle, at which she strongly advocated for the inclusion of undergraduate research in the curriculum. Under her leadership the University Day undergraduate research symposium was established. During her tenure, the university also adopted a theme of adventurous learning which encompassed intellectual, cultural, and outdoor adventures.
Previously she served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Maine at Farmington where she also served as Dean of the College of Education. Before moving to Maine in 1992, she was Department Chair and Professor of Education at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California.
Hensel holds a doctorate degree in early childhood education from the University of Georgia, masters’ degrees in theater and early childhood education from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater also from San Francisco State. She is a former Commissioner of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, was a trustee of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, and served on the governor-appointed Maine Economic Growth Council.
In 2003, Hensel was inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame for her work in promoting higher education in Maine and supporting the role of women in higher education. She is the author of several articles on issues of family and work, creativity in young children, and diversity in education.