Faculty profiles: Associate Dean of Student Life Nancy Nienhuis

By Sofia Bonin

Staff Writer

1. What is your role here at Simmons? I am the Associate Dean of Student Life and Secretary of the Honor Board. Although I will work with all students, I’ll have a primary focus on graduate students.


Nancy Nienhuis, Associate Dean of Student Life at Simmons College

2. What was your role before you came to the College? I’ve worked with graduate students for about 18 years, first at Harvard University in the Divinity and Education schools, and then at a small graduate school called Andover Newton Theological School. I was also part of the faculty, teaching classes on social justice and gender-based violence.

3. It’s the honeymoon phase of your time at Simmons. What is your favorite aspect of it so far? Everyone has been so warm and welcoming. The people I’m meeting seem genuinely pleased that I’m here, and I’m really enjoying beginning to get to know the remarkable Simmons students!

4. What are some of your hobbies or interests? I live on the Ipswich River so I love to kayak. I get out as much as I can. I also love to cook and host dinner parties, enjoying good food and laughter around a table with friends. I have a particular interest in training religious leaders to respond in helpful ways to gender based violence, so I do a lot of teaching and training in that area.

5. Tell us a fun fact about you. I have a treadmill desk, so when I’m not in meetings I’m walking very slowly as I do email, work on the computer, or take phone calls. Depending on how many meetings I’m in I walk anywhere from 3-9 miles a day. I haven’t brought it to Simmons yet, but I will be doing so. I highly recommend it!

6. What do you think your spirit animal would be? Can it be a spirit bird? I would choose a Great Blue Heron. I thoroughly enjoy walking in woods and forests, and any time I see a heron lift off from ponds or rivers it seems almost mystical. They are such majestic creatures and they remind me that however hectic my life may be there’s a whole other world out there. They help me keep perspective.

7. If you have one message for the Simmons community, what would it be? Enjoy the ride and find something to laugh at every day. I know college and graduate school can be very stressful, and students juggle many things and make great sacrifices to be here. But it is a remarkable privilege to be able to obtain an undergraduate or graduate degree, a privilege many people never get. And good humor can’t be overrated. It’s important to find joy in your journey every day.

8. Is there anything you would like to add? I find great joy in working with students, so I hope you will come and talk to me if I can ever help you or support you in some way. My door is open!

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