The Board of Trustees at Mount Mercy University appointed Norm Nielsen, Ph.D., as the interim president. Nielsen currently serves as chair of the Buena Vista University Board of Trustees and was president of Kirkwood Community College from 1985 until he retired in 2005.
During his tenure as president, Kirkwood’s enrollment grew to more than 15,000, and the institution was continually recognized as a leading community college in the nation. Nielsen also proved to be instrumental in creating a partnership with Mount Mercy to ease accessibility for transfer students who wished to continue their education.
Nielsen has earned numerous awards and distinctions for his work in the educational community. In 1995 he received the Iowa State University's Laureate Award for prestigious service, education leadership and personal commitment to the teaching profession. He is also the recipient of the Henry Olson Distinguished Service Award. In 2001, the Association of Community College Trustees named Dr. Nielsen as the Central Region Chief Executive Officer and honored him with the Mary Y. Martin Chief Executive Officer of the Year award, which is the nation's most prestigious national community leadership award for Innovation in the Community College.
On the state and national levels, Nielsen has participated as a board member of Iowa Economic Development, Workforce Development Council, Iowa Student Loan Corporation (president), Iowa Association of Community College Presidents, American Association of Community Colleges, League for Innovation in the Community College (past president), and Community College for International Development. Nielsen also serves on the Executive Advisory Board of CampusWorks, a higher education IT evaluation firm.
With a full endorsement from Buena Vista University President Fred Moore, Nielsen will take on all responsibilities of the interim president and oversee day to day operations of Mount Mercy University. “We are honored that Dr. Nielsen will be serving as interim president at Mount Mercy,” said Chairman of the Board of Trustees Brandt Worley. “His experience and commitment to higher education will continue to push Mount Mercy to new levels of achievement.”
In addition to announcing Nielsen’s appointment, the Mount Mercy Board of Trustees confirmed that Dr. Christopher Blake will not be returning to his position as president following his one-year sabbatical, and a nationwide search for a permanent replacement will begin soon. Nielsen will play an active role in the presidential search.