Higher education expert Mark Nemec appointed Graham School dean

Mark Nemec, a political scientist, higher education expert and business leader, has been appointed the next dean of the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, effective July 1.

From roots in academia, Nemec turned to the use of data and analysis to help global organizations, including institutions of higher education, operate more strategically and effectively. He currently is president and chief executive officer of Eduventures, a Boston-based information services company providing research, data and advice to the higher education community. He previously served on the executive team of Forrester Research, a provider of similar offerings to the technology industry.

Nemec previously taught American politics as a visiting assistant professor at Davidson College, and as an instructor at the University of Michigan, where he earned his PhD. He wrote Ivory Towers and Nationalist Minds: Universities, Leadership and the Development of the American State (University of Michigan Press, 2006) and contributed to The Educational Legacy of Woodrow Wilson: From College to Nation (University of Virginia Press, 2012).

His appointment follows a national search, led by a faculty committee chaired by Deputy Provost Roy Weiss.

As dean, Nemec will lead the Graham School’s initiatives to bring University of Chicago educational experiences to non-traditional students and new constituents, in Chicago and around the world. His appointment comes at a moment of particular opportunity, as the University’s expanding outreach, global demographic changes, and educational and technological innovations combine to create new possibilities.

In announcing the appointment, President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Eric Isaacs cited the Graham School’s contribution to the University’s role as a catalyst and a destination.

“The Graham School has an important part to play in connecting the University to the world through our intellectual content,” Zimmer and Isaacs wrote in a message to Graham School instructors and staff. “Mark thinks actively about how new educational opportunities can grow from a traditional university setting, and how the lessons learned in non-traditional education may benefit the larger university. This thinking will help build on our connections to our local community, our growing global constituencies, our alumni and others.”

Graham School’s growing intellectual mission

Originally known as University Extension, the school of continuing education was a part of the University of Chicago at its founding. It quickly became a national model for making quality education accessible to a wide variety of students—through lecture courses around the city, correspondence courses for more distant students and mail-order access to University libraries.

Renamed in 1997 for alumnus and former Trustee William B. Graham and Catherine V. Graham, the school now serves more than 6,000 students in greater Chicago, and increasingly, around the globe. The Graham School offers master’s degree programs, certificate programs, non-credit courses, and a variety of seminars and online studies.

“The Graham School extends the University’s intellectual mission, as well as its rigorous approach to learning and scholarship, to a broad community of students who seek professional skills or personal development,” Zimmer and Isaacs wrote. “It is an important vehicle for the University’s impact.”

Nemec said he looks forward to working with deans and other leaders at the University to explore how Graham can support and extend their work, as well as providing opportunities for educational innovation.

“The University of Chicago has long been a model for making an outstanding education available to students who are not on a traditional path,” Nemec said. “Changing demographics, evolving technologies, and forces such as urbanization and globalization create new needs and opportunities. In this context, complementary forms of a UChicago education will play an important role in expanding the University’s reach. To advance this effort, I’m excited to partner with my colleagues across the University as well as with our broader local and global community.

“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to draw upon my deep belief in the societal importance of higher education, my global management experience and the lessons I’ve learned working with a variety of universities and colleges,” he said. “I’m particularly honored to be doing so at the University of Chicago.”

Nemec also earned an MA in education with a focus on higher education and public policy from the University of Michigan, and a BA in English from Yale University.

Nemec will succeed Dan Shannon, dean of the Graham School since 1996. Last summer Shannon, the longest-serving dean of continuing studies at the University, announced his plans to retire. Over almost two decades, Shannon developed many new degree and non-degree programs, pursuing new subjects and new venues, in Chicago and overseas.