Nancy Hensel became the first president of The New American Colleges and Universities on November 15, 2011.
During her tenure, NAC&U received a Teagle Foundation grant to develop the concepts of holistic departmental management and faculty evaluation. The study led to two monographs – Redefining the Paradigm: Faculty Models to Support Student Learning and Refining the Paradigm: Holistic Evaluation of Faculty to Support Faculty and Student Learning. Dr. Hensel also edited Exploring, Experiencing and Envisioning Integration in US Arts Education, which was primarily authored by NAC&U faculty, and Course-Based Undergraduate Research: Educational Equity and High Impact Practice, which also includes several chapters by NAC&U authors.
By encouraging members to participate in Congressional Briefings, the first of which occurred in 2016, Dr. Hensel has helped to share the stories of high quality undergraduate education that integrates liberal arts, professional studies, and civic engagement.
Dr. Hensel also oversaw the creation of the NAC&U ambassador program which has given rise to programs such as the NAC&U Award for Student Excellence. The engagement of constituency groups such as enrollment officers, civic engagement directors and others has also increased during her tenure.
Prior to coming to NAC&U, Dr. Hensel served as chief executive officer of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) in Washington, D.C. During her seven-year tenure, CUR experienced significant growth and secured a prominent place in higher education.
Dr. Hensel 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. Prior to joining CUR, she was the sixth president of the University of Maine at Presque Isle and strongly advocated for the inclusion of undergraduate research in the curriculum. Under her leadership the University Day undergraduate research symposium was established.
Previously Dr. Hensel served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of Maine at Farmington where she also served as dean of the College of Education. Before moving to Maine, she was department chair and professor of Education at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California.
Dr. 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, Dr. 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.